Hasse, Johann Adolph


Popular dramatic composer, who was also an excellent tenor and skilled pianist. Born at Bergedorf, near Hamburg; he received his first instruction from his father, who was an organist and schoolmaster. In 1717 he went to Hamburg, wnere he obtained a position as tenor in the theatre, going thence to Brunswick to sing. Here his first opera, Antigonus, the only one he ever wrote to a German text, appeared in 1723. Going to Italy the next year he studied first under Porpora, to whom he owed much of his success as a singer. He later studied composition with Alessandro Scarlatti. In 1726 appeared his Sesostrate, which made him popular and brought him the name of " II caro Sassone " (the beloved Saxon). The next year he went to Venice, where he was made professor of the Scuola degl' Incurabili and where he wrote his renowned Miserere. This work made him the most popular composer of the day and his fine voice and agreeable presence caused him to be much sought after. In 1829 he married the celebrated singer, Faustina Bordoni, and their careers were thereafter bound together. He was appointed chapelmaster and director of the Court Opera in Dresden, where his wife sang the leading soprano parts of his works. Here he found Porpora and his pupil, Regina Mingotti, established as favorites at Court, and the rivalry between them made Hasse leave the city for a time. He and his wife went to Venice, where they scored new success. Returning to Dresden they remained until 1763. On the evening of Frederick the Great's entrance into the city in 1745, Hasse's opera, Arminio, was performed by his command and he highly praised both the work and Faustina's performance. During his stay of nine days he obliged Hasse to attend Court every evening and conduct the music. Most of the manuscript prepared for a complete edition of Hasse's works was destroyed by fire at the siege of 1760, and after the war he and Faustina went to live in Vienna. The last ten years of his life were spent in Venice, where he worked hard, composing several new operas. His facility in composition was wonderful. He wrote more than a hundred operas, besides oratorios, masses, cantatas, psalms, symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and many smaller compositions. He set to music the whole of Metastasio's dramatic works. Though none more popular than he at his time he is almost forgotten now, possibly because his work is somewhat monotonous, being mostly in two parts with the inevitable repetition of the first strain.