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Monique Haas (Piano)

Born: October 20, 1909 - Paris, France
Died: June 9, 1987 - Paris, France

The French pianist, Monique Haas, tudied at the Paris Conservatoire with Joseph Morpain and Lazare Lévy (piano), taking a Premier Prix in Piano in 1927. Her other teachers there were Tournemire (chamber music), Demarquez (harmony), and Emmanuel (music history). She went on to study privately with Rudolf Serkin, Robert Casadesus and George Enescu.

Following her debut in 1927, Monique Haas concertized widely and frequently, her tours covering most European countries, the USA, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Australia. She performed as a soloist with orchestras, as a recitalist and in duo recitals with George Enescu and Fournier. She is widely regarded as among the leading French pianists from the early and mid-20th century. She performed a broad repertoire, from J.S. Bach, Haydn, and Mozart to Béla Bartók, Prokofiev, and Messiaen.

Like many of the French pianists who grew up in the aftermath of World War I, Monique Haas's repertoire was characterised by an avoidance of Romantic composers and a significant representation of French music. Pieces by François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau appeared regularly on her programmes. Her interpretations of Debussy and Ravel were particularly notable. Her recordings of Debussy include the comparatively neglected Douze Études, which won a Grand Prix du Disque, and the Préludes. She also recorded both of the Ravel concertos, the G major twice, as well as his complete solo piano music. The composer Francis Poulenc, himself an accomplished pianist, praised her as "the adorable Monique Haas who plays the piano ravishingly", and Henri Dutilleux described her as "a celebrated interpreter of the music of Ravel"

Monique Haas became known primarily for her performances of music of the 20th century. She was a noted interpreter of Béla Bartók's music, and narrowly missed giving the world première of his 3rd Piano Concerto (the honour went to György Sándor, though only by a matter of days). Another non-French composer whose works appealed to her was Paul Hindemith; she made a valuable recording of his Suite for Piano and Strings The Four Temperaments.

Her precise, elegant style fit well with Baroque, Classical, and modern music, leaving little wonder why she avoided the Romantic school. The music of Schumann was the significant exception to her neglect of romanticism, though she also included Chopin's studies in her repertoire. French piano players of Haas's generation were moving away from the facile and often brittle technique associated with Marguerite Long (frequently referred to as the "diggy-diggy-dee" style). Haas combined the cleanness and precision associated with the older school with a warmth of tone colour that reflected the influence of Alfred Cortot. Her unsentimental readings, especially of Debussy and Ravel, give a different view of their music, presenting them as both modern and as inheritors of the tradition of François Couperin and the clavecinistes of the 18th century.

Monique Haas was married to the French-Romanian composer Marcel Mihalovici, who wrote many of his piano compositions for her, including sonatas and several works for piano and orchestra. She made notable recordings of his Op. 45 Sonata for Violin and Piano (No. 2) and his Op. 46 Ricercari. In the pre-war and wartime eras, Haas performed on occasion with some of the most prominent composers of the day, among them Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, and George Enescu, who was a friend and mentor of Mihalovici.

In the post-war era, Monique Haas concertized regularly throughout Europe and abroad and made numerous recordings, mostly for Deutsche Grammophon. Among her earlier efforts from this period was a memorable Ravel G major (1948), and a Igor Stravinsky Capriccio (1950). She would record the Ravel again, just as memorably, in 1965, along with the Concerto for the Left Hand.

Monique Haas remained active on the concert stage and in the recording studio even while she took up teaching (1967-1970) at the Paris Conservatoire and conducted master-classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum. In her last years, Haas was less active. Her husband died in 1985 and she died in Paris two years later, regarded as one of the most influential and highly praised pianists of her generation.

Much of her extensive discography is still available from several labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, BMG, Elektra, and Profil. In 2006 Deutsche Grammophon released an eight-disc set of Haas' complete recordings for the label, made between 1948 and 1965. Fascinating contrasts can be found between her two recordings of the Ravel Concerto in G. The earlier one, made in 1948, makes much of the work's connections with the jazz idiom of the twenties. The later recording, made in 1965, on the other hand, is far more "Mozartean", reflecting Ravel's self-confessed debt to Mozart when he wrote the concerto.



Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Wikipedia Website (August 2011); All Music Guide (Author: Robert Cummings)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2011)

Monique Haas: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Mionique Haas (Wikipedia)
Monique Haas - Biography (AMG)

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Last update: żAugust 20, 2011 ż14:29:45