Adolph Hallis

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Adolph Hallis (4 July 1896 – 1987) was a South African pianist, composer and teacher.


Hallis was born in Port Elizabeth and travelled to England in his twenties, where he studied at the Royal Academy of Music; his teachers there included Tobias Matthay and Oscar Beringer. He made his debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1919, and after a wide-ranging European career settled back in South Africa in 1939,[1] where he became a teacher at the University of the Witwatersrand. He died in South Africa in 1987.


During his career Hallis premiered numerous works, including piano concertos by Alan Rawsthorne and Erik Chisholm.[2] He gave the first British performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto in Birmingham in 1936. In 1938 he made, for Decca Records, the first complete recording of the piano Préludes of Claude Debussy.[3] With Sophie Wyss, Rawsthorne, Christian Darnton and Benjamin Britten he formed the Hallis Concert Society, which gave a number of innovative concerts in London in the period 1936–1939. These included British premieres of both contemporary and historical British and European music, including works of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, François Couperin, Alban Berg, Paul Hindemith, Elisabeth Lutyens and Elizabeth Maconchy.[4]

Amongst Hallis's compositions were film music, (sometimes under the pseudonym of 'Hal Dolphe'), including music for two films of Alfred Hitchcock, Rich and Strange (1931) and Number Seventeen (1932).[5] His other works include a piano concerto and various piano pieces.[6]

His students included many South African keyboard players of the postwar generations, amongst them Petronel Malan,[7] Anton Nel, Elizabeth de la Porte, and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph.[8]


  1. ^ Mears (n.d.)
  2. ^ Mears (n.d.)
  3. ^ Siek (2011), 324–5.
  4. ^ Plant (n.d.) Details of the programmes of these concerts are given at the Concert Programmes: Darnton collection site of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (accessed 10 June 2014).
  5. ^ Sloan (1995), 104, 109; Anon, "Adolph Hallis" in The Hitchcock Zone website, accessed 10 June 2014.
  6. ^ Mears (n.d.)
  7. ^ Petronel Malan website, accessed 10 June 2014.
  8. ^ Ferreira (n.d.)