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Heribert Beissel

Heribert Beissel was born on 27 March 1933 in Wesel (Germany). He studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne conducting (under Günter Wand), composition (under Frank Martin) as well as piano and violin. After his studies Heribert Beissel first worked as Kapellmeister at the opera in Bonn. In 1958 he founded an own orchestra, the "Chur Cölnische Instrumentenensemble" (now called the "Klassische Philharmonie Bonn") and alter in 1968 also an choral ensemble, the "Chur Cölnische Chor Bonn". Both esembles were and are still directed by Heribert Beissel.


In 1971 Heribert Beissel became the prinicipal conductor of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and stayed in this position until 1986. In Hamburg he was also guest conductor at the State Opera and directed there several productions of John Neumeier. In addition to his positions in Bonn and Hamburg Heribert Beissel was also appointed director of the Folkwang Chamber Orchestra in Essen from 1979 to 1984 and in 1991 he became music director of the Staatskapelle Halle. Heribert Beissel is also co-founder of the state youth orchestra of Saxony-Anhalt in 1992 and was general director of the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester in Frankfurt (Oder).


Beside his permanent positions Heribert Beissel was a sought-after and renowned guest conductor and worked with such distinguished orchestra like the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra or the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra for example.


For his achievements Heribert Beissel was awarded with the German Cross of Merit, the Order of Saxony-Anhalt and the Brahms Medal together with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.


Heribert Beissel died on 21 June 2021.


There are no published compositions by Heribert Beissel. But Heribert Beissel told me that he had the order to compose stage music when he was Kapellmeister in Bonn at the very beginning of his career. The autograph manuscript in my possession dates from this time. It is an orchestration of the famous "Pas de Quatre" by Cesare Pugni (1802-1870).

Pas de Quatre, for orchestra


In my possession is the autograph manuscript of an orchestral version of "Pas de Quatre" by Heribert Beissel.

The original "Pas de Quatre" was composed by Cesare Pugni (1802-1870) in 1845. In that year the choreographer Jules Perrot created a ballet performance for "Her Majesty's Theatre" in London and invited the four greatest ballerinas of its time to dance together. Cesare Pugni created the music for this "Pas de Quatre" and in July 1845 the ballerinas Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Marie Taglioni premiered the work. The performance caused a sensation and was repeated three more times, one in the presence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But after these four performances in July 1845 the work was never done again for decades.

In the 1930s the original music by Cesare Pugni was rediscovered at the British Museum, but it seems that only a piano version had survived. Therefore over the years several composers created orchestral arrangements from the original piano composition by Cesare Pugni for modern performances of the "Pas de Quatre".


One of these orchestral arrangements was created by Heribert Beissel in 1957. At this time he was Kapellmeister at the Opera in Bonn. The premiere of his "Pas de Quatre" took place on 12 December 1957. The orchestration was also used some years later at the State Opera in Vienna.


I am pleased to have the permission from Heribert Beissel himself to publish his orchestral arrangement of the "Pas de Quatre" by Cesare Pugni:

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© Tobias Broeker