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Hans Krása

Hans Krása was born in Prague on November 30, 1899. His affluent family encouraged and generously sup­ported his musical studies, to the extent that his father hired instrumental ensembles in order for Hans to hear his composi­tions. Krása studied with Alexander Zemlinsky in Prague, and in 1921, even prior to the completion of his studies at the German Music Academy in that city, he began working as a vocal coach at the New German Opera. He spent considerable time in Paris, where he learned to admire, among others, the works of Igor Stravinsky. Krása had some performances in the United States and France in the 1920s and several of his compositions were published in Vienna and Paris. A close or even casual acquaintance with his works reveals a composer of exceptionally beautiful music, and he merits attention by performers, audiences and musicologists. The fact that Krása led a rather Bohemian life­style, thereby missing opportunities of writing more works, is countered by the quality of those pieces that have been pre­served. Indeed, had Krása died before the onset of the Second World War, his name would merit recognition as that of an artist who enriched the music of our era with a number of fresh, original, and significant compositions. Krása, however, did not die before the war. After spending several years in Terezin, where he was active in its musical life, he left for Auschwitz on October 16, 1944 (along with Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas and Gideon Klein), and perished immediately in a gas chamber.

 

Krása’s works dating from the 1920s and 1930s include several song cycles, both orchestral and with piano, a symphony for small orchestra, a string quartet, a cantata, Die Erde ist des Herrn (The Earth is the Lord’s), an opera, Verlobung in Traum (Betrothed in a Dream, to a story by Dostoevsky) and a chamber work for harpsichord and seven instruments.