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Johann Adolf Hasse

born: 1699
died: 16 December 1783
country: Germany

Hasse’s outstanding popularity in both Italy (where he studied for a time with Alessandro Scarlatti) and Germany as a composer of opera seria was almost unparallelled in the eighteenth century, yet immediately after his death his name sank into obscurity. Fétis observed of Hasse that few composers have been as famous and yet as quickly forgotten. Hasse’s principal employment in his early years was as a tenor with the Hamburg opera, which may in part account for the lyrical style in which he wrote. He seems to have transferred from singing to composition around 1730, when he travelled to Italy and eventually settled in Naples for six years. His operas became extremely popular with Italian audiences while his arias were thought to be excellent vehicles for vocal displays. Hasse also maintained a great following in the opera at Dresden and eventually his work was much acclaimed in Vienna. Handel too admired Hasse’s music, arranging it for performance in London concerts.

from notes by Robert King © 1996

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