Theodor Hassek

1929 - 2009


Theodor Hassek composed approximately 40 musical works of various genres. Music which is supposed to entertain the listener without causing a headache. The variety of his works spreads from small piano works to multi movement chamber music of different instrumentations, from light entertainment, Chansons, “Wienerlieder” to festive chant for the holy mass. He avoided the large orchestra as well as profound „problematic” music.

Theodor Hassek was one of the composers – such as Friedrich Gulda – who dared the balancing act between serious and entertainment music without taking part in experiments of his time. Nonetheless his tonal expression is neither reactionary nor imitative. He does not demand high standards from the audience but wants to amuse and please it and it never becomes boring.

Musical ideas are looked at from various angles as the entertainment continues without being superficial or having interruptions. Sometimes the proximity to unconsciously inspiring examples can be heard – Milhaud, Lehár, Ravel, Puccini, Strawinsky, Prokoffief, Gershwin, Menotti, Françaix or Kattnigg – but only shortly and on the surface. Succinct compositions retain their distinct sound. The compositions are of high demand. Joseph Marx‘ classical school claimed to subjugate highest sophistication resulting in pieces or movements of concise expression and pleasant brevity compared with the expansive works of the late romantic age which Hassek was unable to get on. Noblesse interspersed with elements of jazz, catchy harmonies and melodic features, while his music never left the path of tonality.

Like a common thread, mystery and melancholy in his music often result the late romantic age which Hassek not only in unconventional harmonic progression but also in the titles reflecting the emotional condition of the composer.

From the piano writing one can see that Hassek was an excellent pianist as well. Like Chopin or Liszt pianistic and „holds in the hand” does neither demand physical nor psychological adjustments. Hassek’s passion, among others was for Johann Sebastian Bach especially for the Well Tempered Piano which he used to play at the beginning of every practice. Recording of some preludes and fugues exist.

Although Hassek being a pianist, paid high attention to piano writing – during his university studies he was concerned with finding which composer had the best writing – his compositions are predominantly committed to the form but less the soundscape. That is why in his chamber music as well as for piano transcriptions of earlier compositions for other instruments can be found. He devoted the last years of his life to the composition of spiritual choral music (mass). Only after diligent studies of works of other composers he wrote his own typical sound.

Catalogue of Works »