Author Topic: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced  (Read 9396 times)

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Offline offbeat

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2012, 01:12:44 PM »
Composer unknown to me but was just ambling thru y tube and came across Haas's Symphonia (1940/41)-on first listening rather lopsided but makes me want to hear more.....

Offline Scion7

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2012, 04:50:31 AM »
Erik Ericcson -

One of several Czech composers to have been first sent by the Nazis to Theresienstadt (Terezin in Czech) and later to his death at Auschwitz, Pavel Haas was undeniably gifted. Leoš Janácek's prize pupil, he had faced hardships before he was sent to Theresienstadt. After studying with Jaroslav Kunc and Vilem Petrzelka, Haas came into the orbit of Janácek from 1920 to 1922. In the elder composer's master class, Haas gained mastery of assembling various elements into a coherent style, first based largely on Moravian folk music and the jazz that had seeped into central Europe. Later, Haas found an icon in Stravinsky, whose irony he found congenial and whose colorful yet spare orchestration intrigued him. Still later, Haas forged ahead into the Czech avant garde, creating a modest oeuvre that was somewhat hampered by not being able to devote himself full-time to composition. Among works that attracted attention were his Saddened Scherzo, Op. 5; Fata Morgana, Op. 6; and From the Monkey Mountains, Op. 7. His Suite for Piano, Op. 13, drew attention abroad, establishing a reputation considerably enhanced by his opera The Charlatan (Sarlatán), which premiered in Brno in 1938. That score was awarded a prize by the Smetana Foundation. Following the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Germany, Haas was increasingly concerned with issues of survival. He felt compelled to divorce his Christian wife to protect her from the privations he understood to be inevitable. Yet he refused to succumb to injustices and psychological torture. Instead, especially after his imprisonment at Theresienstadt in 1941, he turned once again to Czech and Moravian sources, fashioning them into works of universal meaning. Of five works undertaken during his imprisonment, only three were preserved, and his Study for Strings required partial reconstruction. A Nazi propaganda film intended to show the world that Jews lived in positive conditions featured Haas leading a performance of this work by prison musicians. Only a month later, Haas and many of the other musicians were sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered. Haas died the same day as fellow composers Viktor Ullmann and Hans Krása.

I'll have to look into his stuff.
I have a mid'lin portion of Janacek's music, so I'm interested.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline Luke

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2012, 11:24:06 AM »
I've a pretty much complete portion of Janacek's music, and I'd say you are right to be interested - as I've said before, probably on this thread, Haas is the only truly important composition student of Janacek's, and he's also the only composer who writes in anything like a Janacek tone (barring the odd work of Jarmil Burghauser, IMO). Which is not to say that Janacek wasn't hugely influential - he was, but in the broadest of senses, not in specifics of individual style, as his own style was too personal for that. And nor is it to say that Haas is a mere Janacek copier - he has his own idiom, wth much more influence of the wider world, more bitterness and irony, more sophistication, indeed. Nevertheless, as a Janacek addict, the only composer I've ever found who has written anything which gives me a remotely comparable hit is Haas. So many composers are compared to Janacek, and the comparison almost always seems to me to massively miss the point of Janacek's music.

Above all, put Janacek's masterly Wind Sextet Mladi next to Haas's almost unknown Wind Quintet and the parallels - and differences - are obvious. I've said it ad nauseum, but that is a CD coupling made in heaven, and never yet set down on disc.

Offline Luke

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2012, 11:29:07 AM »
Looking back to page one - yes, I have indeed said all this already, long ago. Thought so. How annoyingly predictable I am. That's how it goes when you've been on the boards for so many years!

Another thing I've probably said before, to qualify the above - one more work which comes close to the Janacek spirit, for a few minutes, is the Gideon Klein string trio (I think Haas and Klein are the most interesting of the Terezin composers, and Klein's Trio maybe the best work to come out of that hell). The slow movement is what I am thinking of, but that is partly because it uses a Moravian folksong of an obviously Janacekian hue. The sound itself is of an exposed, emotional rawness which touches realms close to Janacek's quartets, too. But the harmony etc is much more 'advanced' than Janacek, whilst the variation form is more conventional. A little masterpiece, though, that Trio.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #24 on: February 29, 2012, 02:58:12 PM »
Thanks for alerting me to Haas' music. I will certainly listen to it. it sounds as if it should be good. Plus, I always try to read books and listen to music written by people who were murdered by the Nazis; it's something to do, even 65 years after the event, to negate the actions of Nazism.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2012, 03:11:44 PM »
I've listened to the String Quartets 2 (string orchestra version) and 3 and the Study for string orchestra.

Great stuff. I see Amazon has copies of the 1994 orchestral works disk, might try that next.

Offline Luke

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2012, 02:04:43 AM »
Great stuff! And if by the 1994 disc you mean the one on Koch with the Symphony, yes, that's an essential listen, deeply impressive music, and a profoundly moving experience too. Please, though, someone apart from me listen to the Wind Quintet, as I did again yesterday. It's such fun, and to repeat myself tediously, it's such a close cousin to Mladi that it takes the breath away. Distinct enough to clearly not be by Janacek, but never have I heard a work by nother composer so filled with Janacek's techniques and intonations.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2012, 02:10:17 PM »
I've received the 1994 Koch orchestral music disk and wow!

I was immediately taken with the Suite from the Charlatan (his opera), so much so that I immediately ordered the CDs of the whole Opera.

The incomplete Symphony is an amazing work, I'll have to listen to it several times before I can say anything useful about it. But immensely compelling on first hearing.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2012, 08:07:34 PM »
Just been listening to Šarlatán. What an amazing opera, you have to try it!

It's not to long, lively, great music, amusing plot, lots of action, not pretentious. Just fun and very moving at the same time.

I think Czech is a great language for singing. Despite its formidable consonant clusters it seems to have a natural rhythm for singing, so even prose sounds like it should be sung. (Most settings of English leave me asking, 'why is this set to music'?)

Offline North Star

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2017, 12:24:30 PM »
Been touting Haas for years - nice to see him mentioned again! As you say, Janacek's best pupil, and also perhaps the only real Janacek follower in a more than general sense, though very much his own man. His most Janacek-like work is the utterly delightful Wind Quintet, which would make he ideal couplng for Mladi. The disc Harry posted is superb, too, and very moving indeed.
*bump* And it didn't take them more than 6½ years..
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Offline Dax

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2017, 03:24:41 PM »
I do strongly recommend the 2nd string quartet "From the Monkey mountains" - a real corker.

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #31 on: May 10, 2022, 01:14:09 PM »


I must say that this disc is simply tremendous!! All of the three pieces on it (Scherzo Triste, Suite from the opera 'Šarlatán' and his unfinished Symphony) have no waste whatsoever. The music has some influences by Janáček as Haas studied under him. The Scherzo Triste (Sad Scherzo) is not as much as its title says, it's more perky and somewhat sparkling, albeit reaching the ending the music becomes more wistful. The Suite is nothing but superb and it has a really wonderful tune in the Gaiamente movement that will stick in your mind for a while; the Symphony possesses airs of violence, struggle, piquant gestures and some references to Jewish folk music.

I'm already familiar with his three phenomenal String Quartets which have been recorded by Supraphon.

One of my most remarkable discoveries of this year so far.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #32 on: May 10, 2022, 10:03:52 PM »
I’m still a Haas fan after all these years. Only last week I was listening to the Resonus disc of four song cycles, highly recommended.

Offline kyjo

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2022, 07:30:18 AM »


I must say that this disc is simply tremendous!! All of the three pieces on it (Scherzo Triste, Suite from the opera 'Šarlatán' and his unfinished Symphony) have no waste whatsoever. The music has some influences by Janáček as Haas studied under him. The Scherzo Triste (Sad Scherzo) is not as much as its title says, it's more perky and somewhat sparkling, albeit reaching the ending the music becomes more wistful. The Suite is nothing but superb and it has a really wonderful tune in the Gaiamente movement that will stick in your mind for a while; the Symphony possesses airs of violence, struggle, piquant gestures and some references to Jewish folk music.

I'm already familiar with his three phenomenal String Quartets which have been recorded by Supraphon.

One of my most remarkable discoveries of this year so far.

Sounds like a must-hear to me! Thus far, the only Haas work I’ve heard is his remarkable SQ no. 2 From the Monkey Mountains (what a great subtitle!). I see that my now-local orchestra, the Indianapolis SO, is programming his Symphony next season!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Pavel Haas - neglected and silenced
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2022, 03:12:34 PM »
Sounds like a must-hear to me! Thus far, the only Haas work I’ve heard is his remarkable SQ no. 2 From the Monkey Mountains (what a great subtitle!). I see that my now-local orchestra, the Indianapolis SO, is programming his Symphony next season!

It's great music, Kyle. On the strength of the Šarlatán Suite, the complete opera seems an obliged listen to me in the future.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen