Michael Haas, (full name: Benjamin Michael Haas) was born in 1954 in Charlotte, North Carolina but grew up in both Raleigh NC and Vienna where he received much of his general education and most of his musical training. He is a British and Austrian citizen and studied piano performance at the Municipal Conservatory (now Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität der Stadt Wien) along with courses in composition, piano and organ at Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts (mdw). In addition to being bilingual in German and English, Haas speaks Italian, Spanish and French. He moved to London in 1977 to start employment with Decca Records.
Recording Producer: Michael Haas has continued to work as a recording producer since joining Decca, though since 2016, he has limited production to repertoire relevant to the centre he now co-chairs at Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts, (see below). From 1977 to 2000 he worked for Universal Music Group’s London/Decca and the Sony Classical labels. His projects have been recognised with a number of major recording awards, including four Grammys and the first ever Grammy Latinos.
While at London/Decca, he spent more than a decade as producer for Georg Solti before joining Sony to work with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1994, he was appointed Vice President of A&R at Sony Classical in New York.
Since 2000 he continued to produce recordings released by major and independent labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, EMI and Opera Rara.
During his years at London/Decca and Sony, he produced prize-winning recordings with major classical artists including conductors such as Rudolf Barshai, Richard Bonynge, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Kirill Kondrashin, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle and Mstislav Rostropovich, instrumentalists like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Lynn Harrell, Radu Lupu, Alicia de Larrocha, András Schiff, Maxim Vengerov and Pinchas Zukerman along with composer Hans Werner Henze.
He has worked closely on recordings with singers such as Roberto Alagna, Cecilia Bartoli, Hildegard Behrens, Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Monserat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Mirella Freni, Angela Gheorghiu, Matthias Goerne, Sumi Jo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Christa Ludwig, Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, Lucia Popp, Samuel Ramey, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Joan Sutherland and Bryn Terfel.
His most highly regarded work has been in the recovery of music lost during the Nazi era in Europe. In 1990, he initiated and produced London/Decca’s recording series “Entartete Musik” consisting of works that were banned, lost, forgotten or destroyed. The series won a number of major awards and launched many young artists.
Recognition of Haas’s work as recording producer has been confirmed by his contributions to the Cambridge Companion to Conducting (2003) and the Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (2009).
He has also held seminars for aspiring classical recording producers at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada and the Music University in Hamburg. Press coverage has been extensive on Mr. Haas’ work with “Entartete Musik” as well as on his more established activities such as his multi-award winning recordings with Renée Fleming of “Rusalka”, “Thais”, “Daphne” and “Strauss Heroines”. In December 1999, the “London Evening Standard” cited Michael Haas in their “Millennium List of London’s 300 most prominent Movers and Shakers”.
Exhibition Curator: From 2002 to 2010, Haas continued the recovery of composers lost during the years of the Third Reich with the exhibition series Musik des Aufbruchs (‘Music in Transition’) as Music Curator at Vienna’s Jewish Museum. He curated dedicated exhibitions on the lives and works of Hans Gál, Egon Wellesz, Erich Zeisl, Franz Schreker, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hanns Eisler and Ernst Toch.
The exhibitions were well reviewed internationally with the Korngold exhibition clocking some 45,000 visitors during its half-year run. He has also advised on large exhibitions at Vienna’s Jewish Museum including Quasi una Fantasie, Die Juden und die Musikstadt Wien (Vienna, Jews and City of Music, also shown at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York, 2004), Mahleriana – Vom Werden einer Ikone (Mahleriana – the making of an Icon) and the Jewish Museum’s exhibition on Lorenzo da Ponte for the Mozart year in 2005. He was editor of the accompanying exhibition catalogues as well as Vienna’s Jewish Museum Year Book in 2008, which featured a selection of papers presented at the Salzburg Easter Festival’s conference Music and Resistance. In recognition of his exhibition on the composer Hanns Eisler, Haas was awarded the Theodor Koerner Prize in 2009 for “cultural and historic excellence” by the president of Austria.
Historian: Now engaged as Senior Researcher, co-Founder and Chair of the Exilarte Center, based at Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts, Haas is responsible for finding, and overseeing the digitisation and dissemination of “exiled” musical estates acquired by Exilarte. (See below for more information on Exilarte.) Until 2017 he was director of the Jewish Music Institute’s International Committee of Suppressed Music, which following an invitation from Prof. David Cesarani, moved from its former base at SOAS to the Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, London University. Until 2015, he was also honorary research associate at the Department of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at University College London (UCL). Until 2016, he was consultant with the City of Vienna’s prestigious Music Collection, advising on the acquisition of Austria’s exiled composer estates. He was recording producer or initiator for exil.arte’s series of Exile Austro-Czech-Hungarian composers released in collaboration with Vienna’s Gramola label and Austrian Radio. He has just completed a book on the music of Exile for Yale University Press and is translating the articles from die Neue Freie Presse on Gustav Mahler for Routledge. He has also translated the memoirs of Korngold’s wife Luzi Korngold along with a volume of family correspondence, yet to be published.
Following publication of Forbidden Music – the Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis, by Yale University Press in 2013, Prof. David Cesarani advised that Haas be proposed for a PhD, and supported by London’s Jewish Music Institute, Haas completed a dissertation on the restitution of music as cultural legacy at Middlesex University. His doctorate was awarded in January 2017. Haas has organised and chaired many international conferences and is an active supporter of Musica Reanimata in Berlin, Les Voix etouffée in Paris and the Orel Foundation in Los Angeles. He was director of the Musica Prohibita festival of “Entartete Musik” in Barcelona in 2000 and principal advisor for Dutch Radio’s (‘Vara’) Saturday Concerts 2004/5 season at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. This involved the planning of 44 concerts focused on Music that was lost during the years of the Third Reich with concert performances of operas by Egon Wellesz, Erwin Schulhoff and Franz Schreker. He has been invited to speak at numerous events, and universities such as Columbia University’s Jewish Theological Institute and held seminars in Hamburg’s Music University, the Music University of Vienna, the University of Virginia and the Lincoln Centre Festival. In 2009 Haas was asked to participate in a Festival of music banned by the Third Reich in Taipei. Subsequent speaking engagements include the University in Johannesburg and UCLA in Los Angeles. In 1997 and 1998, he was consultant during the earliest planning stages of The Milken Family Foundation’s recording series, ‘The Jewish Experience in American Music’, now released on the Naxos label.
In 2002, the London Jewish Cultural Centre presented him with the coveted Music Award, an award he received alongside Roman Polanski for his film The Pianist and Steven Spielberg for lifetime achievement. From 2002, Haas received the David Uri Fellowship for five consecutive years in recognition of his work and research. In 2010, he was invited by David Pountney to deliver the opening address to the Mieczysław Weinberg Conference at the Bregenz Festival. Yale University Press published Haas’s Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis in April 2013 and he appeared at London’s Southbank Centre, as part of The Rest is Noise Festival.
Exilarte Centre: In 2015, it became apparent that Austria’s archives were no longer financially or logistically in a position to take on further musical estates of exiled Austrians. Archives in neighbouring Germany also confirmed that they were unable to take on more than the most well-known musical estates of exiles. Haas turned to Prof. Gerold Gruber, who founded the exil.arte Society in 2006, bringing Haas on board as co-chair the same year. Together, Haas and Gruber put forward plans for changing the society into a research centre. The plans were accepted by both the out-going and in-coming chancellors of Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts, with the incoming chancellor, Ms. Ulrike Sych, giving the centre greater prominence within the University’s structure, placing it directly under her supervision.
The historic building of the former Music Academy opened in 1913, as a wing of the Konzerthaus. Many musicians forced to flee Hitler had studied or taught at the Academy and its use as a venue for exil.arte offered space for an opening exhibition on the 1938 Nazi purge of the University called Wenn ich komponiere, bin ich wieder in Wien, (‘When I Compose, I return to Vienna’).
Existing vaults of the former Academy Library were modernised and brought up to the highest standards for the preservation of documents, manuscripts and even textiles and ephemera.
Rooms for lectures and recitals were added as well as generous office space for ever expanding personnel requirements. The exil.arte Centre was officially opened in May 2017, followed shortly afterwards with a documentary for Sky Arts made by Barry Humphries.
Within its opening months, the Centre acquired as either legacy or permanent loan a number of important musical estates, including Hans Gál, Jan Urban, Richard Fuchs, Wilhelm Grosz, Walter Bricht, Richard Frey, Gustav Lewi and Julius Bürger along with full digital estates of Walter Arlen and Hans Winterberg. The daughter of Hans Heinsheimer, the publisher who signed some of Universal Editions most important names and one of the primary shapers of 20th century music passed on to exil.arte the opening chapters her father had begun of a history of the publishing house, ending in 1938. Haas was able to forward the incomplete manuscript to Universal Editions who published it as part of their centenary celebrations. As of 2022, there are more than thirty musical estates held by the Exilarte Center, with recent additions being the singers Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth along with the composers Walter Susskind, Eduard van Cleeff, Richard Hoffmann and Walter Wurzburger with another half dozen estates still under negotiation.
The Exilarte Centre does not restrict its interests to Austrians or those born in pre-1918 “Greater Austria”, but includes all musicians and people active in the music industry, who because of political or racial persecution were exiled or murdered. Nor does Exilarte focus on any specific genre of music, but takes the estates of any victim of political or “racial” persecution involved with popular music to the avant-garde, operetta, film or broadcast. The purpose of the centre is to preserve, digitise and disseminate to the present and coming generations of musicians and scholars. The University is ranked the highest performing arts institution in Europe and occupies a similar position to Juilliard in the United States, though with a considerably expanded curriculum and student body.
Michael Haas and Prof. Gerold Gruber were approached by the Korngold family, along with the music publishers Schott to oversee the critical edition of all of Korngold’s output, including film scores. There is now a dedicated “Korngold Room” in the centre where a source index is presently being compiled.
In November 2018 and at the invitation of Thomas Hampson, Michael Haas became a board member of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, an organisation presently producing the New Critical Edition of Mahler’s works, published by Universal Editions.
Michael Haas private details:
Father was Benjamin Leopold Haas (1926-1977) known as the author Ben Haas and was published exclusively by Simon & Schuster
His mother, born Douglas Thorton Taylor (b. 1927), theatrical costumier has recently released her own memoirs.
Older brother Joel Haas (b.1951) is an artist and published author, while younger brother John Thompson-Haas (b.1957) began life as a musician, entering Vienna’s Music Academy at the age of 13 before moving into stage direction. In the mid-1990s, he undertook a career change progressing through banking into technology: “leaving the circus to join the bank”, as he put it.
In 2006, Michael Haas and Kevin Bell became civil partners, cementing a relationship started in 1985. They live in the North Cotswolds in Gloucestershire (UK) Michael Haas is also a resident of Vienna Austria. Both Kevin and Michael are members of London’s Reform Club.
Contact Details: Dr. Michael Haas, exil.arte Center, mdw; Lothringerstraße 18, A-1030 Vienna
Haasfirstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Telephone: (Austria) +43 676 548 3090; UK: +44 7768465923
CV as of July 2017:
Benjamin Michael Haas (Known as Michael Haas)
Born 23.10.1954: Charlotte North Carolina, Father Ben Haas, novelist; Douglas Haas, (née Taylor), Theatrical designer
1960-1972: Volksschule: Klosterneuburg bei Wien; Gymnasium: Klosterneuburg bei Wien; Broughton High School, Raleigh North Carolina.
During these early American school years (1969-1971), attended numerous summer music courses in various universities and schools: Duke University as well as the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
1972-1974: Entrance to Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Wien (now University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna): Principle subjects: Piano, church music and composition
1975-1976: Konservatorium der Stadt Wien: Principle Subject: Concert Performance Piano
1974-1977: part time employment with The Decca Record Company for recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic.
1977: First engagement with Decca Records Ltd and relocation from Vienna to London
1978: First recording as producer: Radu Lupu plays Schubert Sonatas
1978 – 1982: Further recording production with Lupu; Alicia Delarrocha; Karl Muenchinger and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra; Various conductors in Geneva with the Orcestre de la Suisse Roman – numerous chamber and solo productions as well as assistant, principal or secondary producer in various recordings with Decca exclusive artists: Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Ashkenazy; First artist’s signing to Decca with Andras Schiff to recording Mozart and Bach
1983: First recording as principal producer with Sir Georg Solti in London; later further productions in Chicago, Vienna, Frankfurt, Budapest and Berlin. Producer of many historic recordings with Solti such as Bartok with the CSO or Otello with Pavarotti and Kiri te Kanawa. Solti’s return to Budapest and his farewell concert from Chicago. Produced Chailly’s first recording with the Concertgebouw; also assigned to Christoph von Dohnanyi as principal producer
1984: First encounter with music banned by the Third Reich with recordings with Riccardo Chailly in Berlin of various early works by Alexander Zemlinsky.
1985 – 1989: Zemlinsky recordings were followed by further projects such as Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder and a number of Kurt Weill recordings with Ute Lemper, Milva, and others; from 1990, these recordings were partially incorporated into the Decca Series “Entartete Musik”– a collection of music by composers banned by National Socialism; there also followed further Kurt Weill recordings: notably Kurt Weill’s Street Scene with Jerry Hadley, Josephine Barstow, Barbara Bonney, Samuel Ramey etc.
1986 and 1987: first two of four Grammy Awards for recordings with Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
1989 – 1993: Develops and records first instalments of Decca series “Entartete Musik” with co-productions in Berlin and Leipzig of works by Ernst Krenek, Erich Korngold and Berthold Goldschmidt; produced Riccardo Chailly’s first recording in Amsterdam as principal music director of Amsterdam Concertgebouw as well as co-producer of Cecilia Bartoli’s first recording: Barber of Seville in Bologna;
1993 – 1995: Move to Sony Classical as principal producer for Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic; continuation as executive producer for Decca’s ‘Entartete Musik’ series. During Sony years, produced Berthold Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci – the opera with which the Berlin Festival was opened in 1993. Goldschmidt recording of Der gewaltiger Hahnrei resulted in new productions at Berlin’s Comic Opera, and several other important venues throughout Germany and Switzerland.
1994-1995: Executive Vice President of Sony A&R in New York
1995 – 1999: Return to Decca to continue work with Solti, Dohnanyi, Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu; signed contract with baritone Matthias Goerne. Further recordings with Rostropovich; Haitink; Vengerov; Lynn Harrell etc.
1999: Named as one of 300 most influential ‘Movers and Shakers’ in London Evening Standard’s Millennium List in December 1999. With this public acknowledgement and the purchase of PolyGram by Universal Music resulting in a change of working conditions, sets up the production company Coralfox Ltd and goes independent
1999-2001: In addition to recording, sets up The International Forum (now Centre) for Suppressed Music at SOAS, which is established as a part of the Jewish Music Institute at SOAS College, London University. Numerous projects grow out of this association such as the symposium: The Composition Class of Franz Schreker at SOAS; two South Bank Days of “Suppressed Music” including the first UK staged performance of Max Brand’s Maschinist Hopkins.
2000 – 2002: further productions as free-lance producer for various major labels including winning two of first ever awarded classical ‘Grammy Latinos’ for productions with Placido Domingo as well as Midem Award for Rusalka with Renée Fleming. Further recordings in Cologne with Semyon Bytschkov and Renée Fleming: Daphne as well as Elektra with Deborah Polaski
2002: Is awarded the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s Music Award in gala event which also saw awards going to Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski
2002 – 2010: Music Curator at Vienna’s Jewish Museum. Curator of a number of exhibitions, with accompanying catalogues, on Viennese Jewish composers suppressed during the Nazi years: Hans Gál, Egon Wellesz, Erich Zeisl, Franz Schreker, Erich Korngold, Hanns Eisler and Ernst Toch. Participated as advisor and consultant on further exhibitions: Quasi una fantasia: Vienna, the city of Music and Jews which went on to New York; further exhibitions included Lorenzo Da Ponte and The Making of the Icon Gustav Mahler. The Exhibition on Erich Korngold in 2008 attracted more than 45,000 visitors. Awarded Austria’s highest prize for services to Science and History: The Theodor Körner Award, presented by Austria’s President Dr. Heinz Fischer; further activities during this period included organising and running Recording Production workshops in Banff’s Art Centre in Canada and contributing a number of chapters to various Cambridge University publications: The Cambridge Book of Records and Recording and the Cambridge Book on Conductors and Conducting.
2004 – 2005: Artistic and repertoire advisor to VARA (Dutch Broadcasting) for their season of 40 Saturday concerts devoted to music banned by the III Reich. Concerts took place in Amersterdam’s Concertgebouw and involved all of Holland’s orchestras and many chamber ensembles. In addition to orchestral and chamber works, three operas were performed ‘concertante’: Schulhoff’s Flammen; Wellesz’s Bakchantinnen; Schreker’s Der Ferne Klang along with two chamber operas by Wilhelm Grosz and Walter Goehr.
2007: Co-Chair of Vienna’s exil.arte based at the city’s Performing Arts University. exil.arte devotes its energies to bringing composers banned during the Hitler years back into the consciousness of Austrian scholars, music lovers and musicians.
2013: published Forbidden Music – the Jewish Composers Banned by the Third Reich with Yale University.
2013/2014: Consultancy at the Musiksammlung der Wienbibliothek (Music Collection of the Vienna Library) home to Austria’s largest ‘Exile Composer’ collection. Established contacts between the archive and the following exile musician estates (not all of which have been taken or archived): Walter Arlen; Hans Gál; Walter Bricht; David, Rosi and Toni Grünschlag; Julius Bürger; Hilde Föde; Franz Schreker (Paris estate); Wilhelm Grosz; Peter Hamburger; Michael Graubart
2013/14: For the Archive of Vienna’s University of Music and Dramatic Arts: facilitating the acquisition of musical estates the “Musiksammlung der Stadt Wien” was unable to take
2014: Forbidden Music was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research by the Association of Recorded sound Collections
2013: Co-chair of the Erich Wolfgang Korngold Society in preparation for Korngold critical edition to be jointly administered by the Music University in Vienna and Schott Music Publishers
2011-2015: Honorary Research Fellow UCL Hebrew and Judaic Studies
2014 – present: Advisory Board member of Wittgenstein Initiative – an initiative to restore Vienna’s intellectual inheritance
2007 – present: Recording producer for the label ‘Opera Rara’; also productions for DGG and various independent labels
2014- present: Honorary Research Fellow: Royal Holloway University of London
2016 Ph.D submission at Middlesex University, London on Music Resitution (to be accorded in April 2017)
2017: January 1st, Senior Researcher at Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts’ exil.arte centre
Contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Conducting, 2003 and the Cambridge Companion to Recording 2009; Editor of Exhibition catalogues for the Jewish Museum house publisher/Mandelbaum Verlag: Continental Britons – Österreichische Musiker im britischen Exil (2002); Franz Schreker: Grenzgänge – Grenzklänge (2004); Erich Zeisl – Endstation Scheinheiligenstadt (2005); Die Korngolds (2008); Hanns Eisler – Mensch und Masse (2009); Ernst Toch Das Leben als Geographische Fuge 2010); Contributor to catalogues Mahleriana – das Werden einer Ikone (2005); Lorenzo Da Ponte Aufbruch in die neue Welt (2006) and Quasi una Fantasia (2002); Das Jahrbuch des Jüdischen Museums Wien 2006 Musik und Widerstand; Das Jüdische Wien und Richard Wagner (2013);
Regular contributions to Orel Foundation website
Contributions to exil.arte Publications: Und werde in allen Lexika als “British” aufgeführt…” (von Bockel Verlag 2015)
Music-Lost and Found, (Appel Verlag, Wien, 2017)
Forbidden Music – The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis Yale University Press 2013
Presently translating into English the memoirs of Luzi Korngold and Korngold family correspondence to be published by Toccata Press, London
Forbidden Music – The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis Yale University Press 2013
Bilingual in written and spoken German/English; Fluent Italian and Spanish; Serviceable French (meaning the conducting of recording sessions and/or press and television interviews); Russian studied for four years in 1980s with considerable spoken and written fluency – at best, now only revivable.
25 years of working for major recording labels at a time when there was little competition from independents, means that barely a year passed without nominations or awards coming for one or more Michael Haas recordings. A partial discography can be viewed at: http://www.coralfox.com/discography.php
A selection of the most important awards, prizes and notices are listed below:
Grammys in 1986, 1987, 2000, 2001
Ranked in London Evening Standard’s ‘Millennium List’ of 300 must influential Londoners: 1999
First awarded Grammy Latinos in 2000 & 2001
Midem Classical Award: Rusalka 2000
Brit Award: Otello with Solti and Pavarotti 1992
Gramophone: Entartete Musik series 1993
First awarded Echo Preis: Boris Godunov Claudio Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic 1995
LJCC (London Jewish Cultural Centre) Award together with Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski: 2001
Theodor Körner Preis for services in Austria to Science and History: 2009