Reynaldo Hahn


Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Reynaldo Hahn's father was originally from Hamburg.  The family moved to Paris when Hahn was five years old.  He studied singing and entered the Conservatoire, studying with Dubois, Lavignac and Massenet.  In addition to composition he learnt to conduct, specialising in opera.  In 1906 he conducted alongside Mahler and Richard Strauss at the Mozart Festival in Salzburg, and recorded professionally as a singer in 1910.  He also wrote for Le Figaro as their music critic from 1934.  Hahn remained in hiding in France during the Second World War; considering that his music had been banned by the Nazis owing to his Jewish roots, this was exceptionally dangerous.  Following the war he was appointed director of the Paris Opera.

Although Hahn's love of opera seems to have been the focus of his life, his stage works are not greatly performed today.  Indeed he is regaining popularity after a generation dismissed him as lightweight; his settings of Verlaine and the like have done much to convince audiences otherwise, and it is possible that he will soon enjoy a fuller re-appraisal.

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