Individual Composer

Johann Adolph Hasse


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(b Bergedorf, nr Hamburg, bap. 25 March 1699; d Venice, 16 Dec 1783)

For several decades Hasse was the most widely admired composer of opera seria in Italy and German-speaking lands.

His finest operas, written between the mid-1720s and the late 1760s, represent a highly systematized, rational style; they were handsomely produced and sung at leading theatres.

Festival operas and vocal chamber works were composed for weddings and similar occasions at the Habsburg court in Vienna during the 1760s, by which time Hasse had come to be associated stylistically with the librettist Metastasio.

Qualities described today as neo-classical also pervade his Dresden oratorios, his Venetian sacred works and his later flute music probably for Berlin; much of his music exhibits dramatic effects of harmony, orchestration and vocal line.

He was able to compose at great speed, and his skill at adjusting to the voice of each singer was highly prized. Bel canto was for him always the sine qua non of great music, and to the beautiful display of the human voice all else was subordinated.

*** Paraphrased from the introduction to the New Grove article on Hasse whilst the official Hasse Project article is being completed

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