Georg Friedrich Haas

Georg Friedrich Haas (born 16 August 1953 in Graz, Austria) is an Austrian composer.

Education and career

Georg Friedrich Haas grew up in Tschagguns (Vorarlberg) and studied composition with Gösta Neuwirth, Iván Erőd, and piano with Doris Wolf at the Musikhochschule in Graz, the capital of the Austrian federal state of Styria. Since 1978, he has been teaching at the Hochschule as an instructor, and since 1989 as an associate professor in counterpoint, contemporary composition techniques, analysis, and introduction to microtonal music. Haas is a founding member of the Graz composers' collective Die andere Seite. He composes in a cottage in Fischbach, Styria.

Haas completed two years of postgraduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna with Friedrich Cerha, participated in the Darmstädter Ferienkurse (1980, 1988 and 1990), and the computer music course at IRCAM (1991). He received a fellowship from the Salzburg Festival (1992–93), was awarded the Sandoz Prize (1992) and a music grant from the National Ministry of Science, Research, and Culture (1995). Works by Haas have been on the programs of the following festivals: Wien Modern (Vienna), Musikprotokoll (Graz), Witten, Huddersfield, Royaumont, Venice Biennale, Festival d'Automne (Paris), as well as at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse and the Salzburg Festival 2011. Since 2005, he has lectured at the Hochschule in Basel, Switzerland; from September 2013 on, Haas has been a Professor of Composition at Columbia University, New York.

Aesthetics and work

Haas' style recalls that of György Ligeti in its use of micropolyphony, microintervals and the exploitation of the overtone series; he is often characterized as a leading exponent of spectral music. His aesthetics is guided by the idea that music is able "to articulate a human being's emotions and states of the soul in such a way that other human beings can embrace these emotions and states of the soul as their own" ("Emotionen und seelische Zustände von Menschen so zu formulieren, daß sie auch von anderen Menschen als die ihren angenommen werden können").[1] Thus Haas has disavowed the intellectualism of some strands of the modernist musical avantgarde (such as serialism and deconstructivism). The emotional atmosphere of many of his works is sombre.[2] Haas' operas have been criticized for evoking themes like suffering, illness and death to aesthetic voyeurism: "the piece [Haas' opera Thomas (2013)] comes dangerously close to a kind of palliative care ward tourism."[3]

In a similar vein, his orchestral works have been compared to film music: "[Dark dreams for symphony orchestra] lets us think of a soundtrack ready-made for a suspense movie" ("lässt aber auch an einen probaten Soundtrack zum Suspense-Streifen denken").[4]

Haas's opera Morgen und Abend, to a libretto by the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, was jointly commissioned by the Royal Opera House, London, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. It was premiered on the main stage of the Royal Opera House on 13 November 2015.

Personal life

Haas is the dominant partner in a BDSM relationship with his wife, Mollena Williams-Haas.[5]

Writings and compositions

Haas has published musicological articles on the works of Luigi Nono, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Alois Hába, Pierre Boulez, and Franz Schubert.


  • Adolf Wölfli, chamber opera (Graz 1981)
  • Nacht, chamber opera in 24 scenes; libretto by the composer after texts by Friedrich Hölderlin (concert performance in Bregenz 1996, staged in Bregenz 1998)
  • Die schöne Wunde, opera after Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe and others (Bregenz 2003)
  • Melancholia, opera in 3 parts; libretto by Jon Fosse after his own novel (Palais Garnier, Paris, 2008)
  • Bluthaus, opera in 10 scenes (composed 2010/11); libretto by Klaus Händl; world premiere: April 2011, Schwetzingen Festival; premiere of revised version (45 minutes new music): Kampnagel, Hamburg, June 2014.[6]
  • Thomas, opera. Libretto by Klaus Händl; world premiere: May 2013, Schwetzingen Festival
  • Morgen und Abend. Libretto Jon Fosse; world premiere: Royal Opera House, 13 November 2015
  • Koma. Libretto Klaus Händl; world premiere: Schwetzingen Festival, 27 May 2016

Other works

  • Sextet for 3 violas and 3 cellos (1982)
  • Drei Hommages für einen Pianisten und zwei im Abstand eines Vierteltons gestimmte Klaviere (1985)
  • ...Schatten...durch unausdenkliche Wälder for 2 pianos and 2 percussionists (1992)
  • Descendiendo for orchestra (1993)
  • ...., double concerto for accordion, viola and chamber ensemble (1994)
  • ...Einklang freier Wesen... for various instrumentations, each titled ...aus freier Lust...verbunden... (1994)
  • Nacht-Schatten (1994 Bregenz)
  • Fremde Welten, concerto for piano and 20 stringed instruments (1997)
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra (1998)
  • String Quartet No.2 (1998)
  • Nach-ruf...ent-gleitend... for ensemble (1999)
  • Torso for large orchestra after the unfinished Piano Sonata in C major, D.840 by Franz Schubert (1999–2000)
  • in vain for 24 instruments (2000/02)
  • ...sodass ich’s hernach mit einem Blick gleichsam wie ein schönes Bild... im Geist übersehe (2001)
  • tria ex uno for ensemble (2001–2002)
  • de terrae fine for violin solo (2001)
  • Blumenstück (2001)
  • flow and friction for sixteenth-tone piano 4-hands (2001)
  • String Quartet No.3 "In iij. Noct" (2003)
  • Natures mortes for orchestra and accordion (UA Donaueschingen Festival 2003)
  • String Quartet No.4 (2003)
  • Opus 68 for large orchestra after Piano Sonata No.9 by Alexander Scriabin (2004)
  • Concerto for cello and large orchestra (2004)
  • Haiku for baritone and 10 instruments (2005)
  • Ritual for 12 bass drums and 3 wind ensembles (2005)
  • Sieben Klangräume (UA Salzburg 2005)
  • ....... for viola and 6 voices (2006)
  • Hyperion, Konzert für Lichtstimme und Orchester (UA Donaueschingen Festival 2006)
  • Bruchstück for large orchestra (2007)
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (2007)
  • Les temps tiraillés for 2 violas, bassoon and electronics (2008)
  • Concerto for baritone saxophone and orchestra (2008)
  • Blumenwiese for saxophone, piano and percussion (2017-18) - composed for Trio Accanto


  1. Georg Friedrich Haas, 'These shadows of memory'. Über das Finale des ersten Abschnitts meiner Oper die schöne Wunde, in Andreas Dorschel (ed.), Resonanzen. Vom Erinnern in der Musik (Vienna – London – New York: Universal Edition, 2007) (Studien zur Wertungsforschung 47), pp. 197−204, p. 203
  2. Alex Ross (2010-11-29). "Darkness Audible". Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  3. Shirley Apthorp, 'Première of Georg Friedrich Haas, Thomas, Schwetzingen Festival, Germany', Financial Times (Europe), Tues. 28 May 2013, p. 13
  4. Stefan Musil, 'Musikverein: So dunkel sind die Träume nicht', Die Presse (Vienna), Sun. 9 March 2014, p. 43
  6. Musik Fest Hamburg, page for premiere of Bluthaus revision Archived 2 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine.

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