Meet Mr Haas

Opus Osm

The award-winning Pavel Haas Quartet performs in Prague April 2.

The composer who perished at Auschwitz is honored by the quartet bearing his name.

Pavel Haas was born into a Jewish family in 1899. From the mid 1920s, Haas was considered a forefront, avant garde composer. He did not write much, but what he wrote demonstrated his growth as a composer and eventually garnered him international attention.

Pavel Haas wrote music of all kinds including symphonic and choral works, lieder, chamber music, and scores for cinema and theatre. His music stemmed from his Moravian roots and sometimes incorporated Hebrew melody.

When the Germans came, he failed to get the necessary visas for his family in order to emigrate. Haas was deported to Terezín (Theresienstadt concentration camp). Prior to his arrest, he divorced his wife so that she and their young daughter would not suffer a similar fate.

Opus Osm

Pavel Haas

His compositions in Terezín reflect his attempt to maintain creative and personal integrity in the face of horrific conditions. He used the melodies of Saint Wenceslaus and Hussite chorales, or elements of Moravian folklore. In 1944 he was sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz.

Haas has an honored place among Czech composers who courageously sought new forms of expression without denying their roots. Even today his melodic and rhythmic music sounds very modern and captivating.

And that is what brings us to the Pavel Haas Quartet
The quartet chose his name for themselves after hearing American recordings of all three of his quartets. Of course they sought and received permission from his daughter to use her father’s name.

The Pavel Haas Quartet was thus founded in 2002. In 2004, they received the Vittorio E. Rimbotti award in Florence, and in 2005 won the Prague Spring International Music Competition. A mere month later, they won the prestigious Premio Paolo Borciani in Reggio Emilia, Italy. This opened the door to performances worldwide, as a part of this prize included 40 concerts throughout the USA, Japan, and Europe.

More @ …The Municipal Library of Prague has several CDs and scores of Haas’ music, plus one book (in English). The library also has several CDs recorded by the Pavel Haas Quartet.

More concerts, awards, and recordings followed. Their most recent album, a CD of Antonín Dvořák’s string quartets, won a 2011 Gramophone Award in the Chamber category as well as the most coveted prize, Recording of the Year.

You can hear The Pavel Haas Quartet – Veronika Jarůšková, Mark Zwiebel, violin; Pavel Nikl, viola; and Peter Jarůšek, cello – when they perform at the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude April 2 at 7:30 pm. The program includes compositions by Alfred Schnittke, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven. — oo

– Hana Trollman

Photo Credits: Top: Marco Borggreve, Pavel Haas Quartet website; bottom: Wikipedia

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