Johann Adolf Hasse (1699‐1783)
Biography of Johann Adolf Hasse
Johann Adolf Hasse was as a composer the undisputed idol of later baroque era. He was the musical representative of the final splendour of absolutism shortly before dawn which brought the radical changes of the French Revolution.
Although his works have almost faded into oblivion, in no small part due to their identification with the Ancien régime, Hasse's graceful, light-hearted and distinctively expressive music still has the power to please and to persuade and is rediscovered in our days more and more.
Hasse composed instrumental music, works for the church, oratorios, secular cantatas, serenades and intermezzi, but above all, he composed operas in the manner of the "Dramma per musica" as characterized by the libretti of Pietro Metastasio.
Hasse's creative output spanned almost 60 years and set high standards. It represented both stylistic change as well as the continuity of the baroque era.
Hasse was born in March 1699 in Bergedorf, which today is a part of Hamburg. After initial success as a singer he turned to composition. In Naples where he converted to Catholizism he was one of the last students of Alessandro Scarlatti. In 1730 he married the famous singer Faustina Bordoni in Venice. During his almost 30 year career as director of music at the Court of Dresden musical life flourished there under his guidance.
In his sacred works Hasse composed effective choral scores which in their level of difficulty do not pose performance problems for the majority of today's choirs and thus they are aptly suitable for a place in the church music as it is performed today (and of course it should be remembered that large choirs in the sense of oratorio singing of the 19th. century did not exist in Hasse's time).
Hasse's instrumental compositions do not comprise a major part of his creative output. Nonetheless, most of these works are pleasent, charming works with a predominalty cheerful character.