Hans Krása

30/11/1899 Praha, 18/10/1944 Osvětim  

Hans Krása was born into a family of a Czech Jewish lawyer. At the age of seven, he began taking violin and piano lessons (from Theresa Wallerstein). He went on to study composition at the German Music Academy. He was reputedly a pupil of Alexander Zemlinsky, yet there is no proof in this regard. Krása’s  music was featured within the philharmonic concert cycle at the Neues deutsches Theater, which, under the baton of Zemlinsky, hosted the premiere of his Orchestergrotesken, set to Christian Morgenstern’s poems. In the 1920s, Krása lived in Berlin and made frequent trips to Paris to study with Albert Roussel. His oeuvre includes songs, cantatas and string quartets, with the best-known works being the Symphony for Small Orchestra and the opera Betrothal in a Dream, based on F. M. Dostoyevsky’s Uncle’s Dream. Krása’s most popular piece is the children’s opera Brundibár, set to Karel Hoffmeister’s libretto, which was initially rehearsed in 1941 and first performed in 1942 at a Jewish orphanage in Prague. By the time of its premiere, Krása had been deported to Theresienstadt, where he would reconstruct the full score of the opera. After the premiere of the remade version at the camp in 1943, the opera was performed some 55 times! In October 1944, Krása was deported to Auschwitz, where he was soon murdered in a gas chamber. During his time in Theresienstadt, he also composed Three Songs for baritone, clarinet, viola and cello to Arthur Rimbaud’s texts, Overture for Small Orchestra, Dance for string trio, and Passacaglia and Fugue for string trio.