Divertimento in D Major for String Trio, Op.22
The famed chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for String Quartet Players describes Haas’s Divertimento for String Trio as follows:
“Joseph Haas’ Op.22 Divertimento in D Major for String Trio was published in 1909. Like Beethoven’s Op.8 Serenade for String Trio, Haas’ Divertimento is in the best tradition of such works. It is intended to be entertaining and amusing and certainly succeeds in this. Each of the five tightly written movements is fresh and inventive. But one must note that this is not merely “light music”, for it shows the composer’s complete grasp of chamber music style, understanding of tonal beauty and how to combine the three instruments to their best use. In the first movement, In gemässigtem Marschtempo mit Humor (in a moderate march tempo with humor), the use of humor is cleverly executed and never obvious or overdone. The inspired main theme is appealing and far above the ordinary. The second movement, Capriccio, is marked very lively and light, and is in fact fiery and piquant, while the beautiful, brief middle section provides a striking interlude. Next is an attractive Minuet, Graziõs, nich zu rasch (graceful and not too quick) in the rococo style. The slower trio section is also quite appealing and lovely. This in turn is followed by a Romance, Sehr ruhig und mit viel Ausdruck (very calm and with much expression). The finale, Sehr lebhaft and Humorvoll (very lively and humorous), is a rondo. As the title suggests it is full of unaffected humor and fine touches. This trio would make a fine program selection for the concert hall and is truly a ‘tasty morsel’ for amateurs.”
Joseph Haas (1879-1960) was born in the Bavarian town of Maihingen. Although he trained and worked as a school teacher, he wanted a career in music, and eventually took private lessons from Max Reger, then later at the Leipzig Conservatory. His success as a composer led to his becoming a professor at the Stuttgart Conservatory and then later in Munich. Among his many students were Eugen Jochum, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Karl Höller and Karl Amadeus Hartmann. Haas, like Reger, never abandoned tonality and many of his works, such as this Divertimento, are richly tonal though in an updated way. Haas wrote in most genres and left a number of chamber music works.