Pavel Haas – Fata Morgana Op. 6
(b. Brünn, 21. June – d. Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, 17. or 18. October)
The Jewish Czech composer Pavel Haas was born in Brno in Moravia in 1899, where he continued to live for most of his life. His father ran a small chain of shoe shops and the family spoke Czech at home. Pavel and his younger brother Hugo, later to become a film actor, went to a German primary school, to ensure that they knew German. Pavel then attended a technical school, where he had piano lessons and where he first started thinking of becoming a composer. His parents allowed him to leave school to concentrate on his musical education. After the founding of the Czechoslovak republic in 1918, a conservatory was established in Brno by the composer Leoš Janáček. There Haas joined Janáček’s composition masterclass in September 1920 and was awarded a diploma in 1922. He was considered Janáček’s most promising pupil. While continuing to compose, Haas earned his living by working in his father’s business until 1935, when he first became a private teacher of musical theory, later a teacher at the Jewish secondary school in Brno.
In 1935 Haas married a doctor, Sofia Jakobsonova, who had previously been married to the Russian linguist Roman Jakobson. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, when those married to Jews had their rights reduced, he applied for a divorce to protect his wife and daughter. This saved their lives. (Actually, Sofia may also have been Jewish, but this was never questioned.) Haas was deported to the show camp or ghetto of Theresienstadt (Terezín) in Bohemia on 2 December 1941. Also there were the composers Gideon Klein, Hans Krása and Viktor Ullmann among others. Haas remained in the ghetto until 16 October 1944 when he was taken to Auschwitz with the other Theresienstadt composers. He was murdered two days later. In the concentration camp. The conductor Karel Ančerl said that Haas was standing next to him at Auschwitz. Dr Mengele was about to send Ančerl to the gas chambers but Haas coughed, showing a sign of weakness, so he was sent instead. …
Full preface / Komplettes Vorwort > HERE