City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Belated Recognition for Composer Hans Gal


By Editor - Posted on 30 October 2007

There are signs that Hans Gal, a composer who spent half his long life in Edinburgh, is gaining long overdue musical recognition.

Gal was an established composer with a large corpus of works to his credit when he
arrived in Edinburgh from his native Vienna in 1938. A talented
pianist who gave his first public performance in 1911, his career was blighted
by the Nazis.

Despite his prowess as a conductor and composer -- his published works included no less
than five operas and four symphonies and one comic opera had been performed in
several European cities -- he was dismissed instantly from his post as music director in a major German city when Hitler came to power in 1933.

His works were banned throughout Germany and he returned to Vienna, only to flee the Nazis a
second time when they took over Austria in 1938.

Edinburgh was his home for the rest of hislife, apart from internment as an "enemy alien" for part of the war, and he was a lecturer in music at Edinburgh University
for some 20 years from 1945.

A founder of the Edinburgh International Festival, it was deplored by many that none of his
compositions were performed in it -- though he did act as accompanist to the
great Kathleen Ferrier at a Festival concert.

Recently, however, there have been significant advances. Gal's complete works for solo
piano were issued on CD a couple of years ago and the Edinburgh Quartet have just recorded all his string quartets.

A talented group of young musicians have formed themselves into the Ensemble Hans Gal, with
the aim of gaining performances for more of his works,

Ensemble Hans Gal holds its first concert in Stockbridge Church on Thursday, November 1, the 20th anniversary of Gal's death at the age of 97.

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