Karl Haas (conductor)

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Karl Wilhelm Jacob Haas (27 December 1900 – London, 7 July 1970), musician, musicologist and conductor, was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he studied at the Classical College, then at the Universities of Munich and Heidelberg.

His first work was at the Dumont Theatre in Düsseldorf; then as Music advisor for Karlsruhe and Stuttgart radio stations.[1] He escaped Nazi persecution of Jews and settled in Britain in 1939. He worked as Music Director of Old Vic in Bristol, where he composed incidental music and stage scores.

Karl was an enthusiast of Baroque music and a player of the viola d'amore. He edited works of Cherubini, Boccherini, Dittersdorf, Handel, Haydn and others.

In 1941 he founded the London Baroque Ensemble, which had its public debut in 1943, and continued to play until 1966. Members of the Ensemble between 1952 and 1954 included Sidney Sutcliffe, Terence MacDonagh, Natalie James (aka Natalie Caine), Roger Lord on oboe; Frederick Thurston, Jack Brymer, Gervase de Peyer, Basil Tschaikov on clarinet; Cecil James, Paul Draper, Edward Wilson on bassoons; James O'Loughlin on contra-bassoon; Dennis Brain, Neill Sanders, Ian Beers on horns; Vivian Joseph (cellist) on cello; and James Merritt on double-bass. They have accompanied keyboardists Lionel Salter, Charles Spinks and George Malcolm in works of J. S. Bach and C. P. E. Bach.[2] They made a number of recordings of Handel, Bach and Boyce,some produced by George Martin.[3]

According to Basil Tschaikov, Karl Haas was a fine instrumentalist but a poor conductor. This was evidenced when playing the Richard Strauss Sonatina No 2 for the BBC on two occasions, as the second was by far the better performance. The difference was attributed to his taking a fall after the first, which left his arms in a sling.[4]

A recording containing Dvořák's Serenade in D minor Op. 44, Mozart's Serenade No. 11 in E flat, K.375 and Serenade No. 12 in C minor, K.388/384a is available on the Testament label. Other recordings of the London Baroque Ensemble were made on the Westminster label, now part of Deutsche Grammophon, Parlophone, Decca and Pye.

He had been working on a book 300 Years of Military Music at the time of his death.


  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music 1996 ed. Michael Kennedy and Joyce Bourne
  1. ^ http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Haas-Karl.htm
  2. ^ http://www.pristineclassical.com/LargeWorks/Orchestral/PASC034.php
  3. ^ "Produced by George Martin". Arena. 25 April 2011. BBC. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  4. ^ http://www.musicweb-international.com/Tschaikov/Chapter23_page1.htm