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Monique Haas

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Biography

Monique Haas is widely regarded as among the leading French pianists from the early and mid-twentieth century. She performed a broad repertory, from J.S. Bach, Haydn, and Mozart to Bartók, Prokofiev, and Messiaen. Not surprisingly, she played and recorded much French music, including the entire outputs of Debussy and Ravel. Her precise, elegant style fit well with Baroque, Classical, and modern music, leaving little wonder why, apart from a few works by Schumann and Chopin, she avoided the Romantic school. Haas concertized widely and frequently, her tours covering most European countries, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Australia. Much of her extensive discography is still available from several labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, BMG, Elektra, and Profil. Monique Haas was born in Paris on October 20, 1909. Her first advanced studies were at the Paris Conservatoire, where her most important teachers were Joseph Morpain and Lazare-Levy. Haas won first prize in piano performance as a student there in 1927, and later took private lessons from Rudolf Serkin and Robert Casadesus. Haas' husband was 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 Poulenc, Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Enescu, who was a friend and mentor of Mihalovici. In the postwar era, 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 Stravinsky Capriccio (1950). She would record the Ravel again, just as memorably, in 1965, along with the Concerto for the Left Hand. 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. In 2006 Deutsche Grammophon released an eight-disc set of Haas' complete recordings for the label, made between 1948 and 1965.

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