Hans Gál Recordings

Hans Gál was born to a Jewish family outside of Vienna on August 5th, 1890. He was not extremely serious about music until his early teens, and once he became immersed in it, he studied under Richard Robert at the New Vienna Conservatory. This is where his efforts in composition began, resulting in his finished cantata Von ewiger Freude in 1912. He wrote a series of works from then up until 1915, where he won the State Prize for Composition. He joined the army in 1915, but continued to compose and was inspired for his important opera Der Artz der Sobeide (Sobeide’s Doctor) during this time.

In the decade that followed, Gál rose to fame as a composer. He created many brilliant works including his prize winning first completed symphony, and his international success Overture to a Puppet Play. He became a key player in German musical life, and earned the honor of becoming Directory of the Conservatory in Mainz in 1929.

At the height of his success of this period, Gál’s career suffered catastrohically when he was fired from his position in Mainz after the Nazis took power in Germany. Not initially realising the gravity of the situation, Gál actually lobbied for a year to get his old job back. He then returned to Austria to dire circumstances of poverty within his family, but continued to compose there until he realised he must leave Germany.

Gál moved to England, where he was detained in an internment camp through Churchill’s “enemy aliens” program. This controversial program detained Nazi soldiers alongside Jewish refugees. All this chaos did not slow him down, however, as he continued to compose while in the internment camp from March of 1940 until the autumn of that year. After leaving the camp, Gál moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he took a position at the University of Edinburgh. Gál spent the rest of his life in Edinburgh, composing for the remaining 40 years of his life, and finished his last listed composition, a Moment Musical for treble recorder at the age of ninety-six, one year before his death.