Karl Haas

Karl Haas bigraphy, stories - American conductor

Karl Haas : biography

06 December 1913 – 06 February 2005

Karl Haas (December 6, 1913February 6, 2005) was a German-American classical music radio host, whose distinctively sonorous voice and humanistic approach to making music appreciation contagious made him well received by many. He was the host of the classical music radio program Adventures in Good Music, which was syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world. He also published a book, Inside Music. In addition to being a musicologist, Haas was also an accomplished pianist and conductor.

Personal life

Haas and his wife Trudie, who died in 1974, had two sons, Jeffrey and Andrew, and one daughter, Alyce. He married his second wife, Maria, in 1976.

Adventures in Good Music

Haas began his radio program Adventures in Good Music on WJR in Detroit, Michigan in 1959. Syndicated broadcasts of the show across the United States began in 1970 on WCLV, a Cleveland, Ohio radio station. Eventually syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world, the show became the world’s most widely listened-to classical music radio program.

The theme music for Adventures in Good Music was the 2nd movement from Beethoven’s "Pathétique" Sonata (Sonata No. 8 in C minor), performed by Haas himself. Haas started every show with his trademark greeting "Hello everyone," and even titled a track of his CD as such. For several years, the program had the most listeners of any classical music radio show in the world.

Haas received the Charles Frankel Award of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1991. President George H. W. Bush personally presented the award to Haas at the White House. Haas also twice won the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. In 1997 he became the first classical music broadcaster to be named to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Haas did not produce any new episodes of the show in the last two years of his life. WCLV continued to syndicate recordings of his previous shows until June 2007. That month, WCLV announced "with great regret" that it would broadcast and syndicate its last Adventures in Good Music program on June 29, 2007. The announcement explained that the number of stations that carried the show had dropped from well over 400 to fewer than 20, which made it unfeasible to continue the program’s national distribution.

Although most episodes of Adventures in Good Music are not available publicly because of copyright restrictions, three CDs featuring Haas and his commentary have been issued: The Romantic Piano, The Story of the Bells, and Song and Dance.

Early life

Haas was born in Speyer, Palatinate in 1913, the youngest of four children. He studied at the Mannheim Conservatory, and earned a doctorate in music literature from Heidelberg University. He studied piano with Artur Schnabel. Haas, who was Jewish, left Germany in 1936 with the rise of Nazism. He first settled in Detroit, Michigan, but lived in other places before returning to Detroit near the end of his life.