'For the third quartet alone, this disc is worth acquiring ...
an important musical document of one of those
who perished in the holocaust ...'
PETER LUNDIN listens to the
'undesired' quartets of Pavel Haas
Entartete Musik (a term coined by the Nazi propaganda machine
designating music undesired by the third reich) became a revitalised musical
symbol during the latter part of the 1990s - not least when the British
record label Decca started releasing a series of CDs labelled Entartete
Musik. Among the composers rediscovered by a large new audience were
Victor Ullmann, Franz Schreker, Erwin Schulhoff and Pavel Haas, whose string
quartets are under consideration here.
Pavel Hass was born on 21 June 1899 in the Moravian capital, Brünn
(today Brno). After serving in the first world war he entered the Brno conservatory
in 1919. There he studied music with Jan Kunc and Vilém Petrzelka,
and later with Leos Janácek for his masters degree in composition.
Haas was not able to sustain himself as a composer until 1935, when his
opera 'Sarlatán' (Charlatan, available in the Decca series) became
a tremendous success at the Brno Opera. Like many Jewish composers in Germany
and the annexed countries Haas was deported to the model camp Terezin in
October 1941. Then three years later, on the last train out, he was sent
to Auschwitz. There he and many other important Jewish artists were executed
on 17 December 1944. (Haas's total output is less than 25 works. Whilst
in the concentration camp he wrote an unfinished symphony and the studies
for string orchestra. The latter was performed by the Theresienstadt orchestra
under Karel Ancerl.)
Copyright © 10 June 2000 Peter Lundin,
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