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Rainer Hass (1905 – 1943)

19 июня 2010, 13:14
Автор: buster

From German, the English translation of this name means Pure Hate. It is more or less a play on words i.e. Rainer (Reiner means pure) is an actual first name and the last name Haas is transformed into Hass (Hate) giving us the name Rainer Hass. Although it seems strange that a young musician would want to use a name like this, it was generally accepted as the arts in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic were often controversial. And controversial he was – but always indirectly. He sang most of his songs in English, which on the surface sounded perfectly fine to the average German. However, the themes and subjects of his songs dealt mainly with murder and death and the darker side of humanity’s psyche. Herr Hass wanted to fuse expressionism and jazz. This is particularly relevant during the time of the Weimar Republic in Germany, when for example; many German film directors were producing films that were nothing but shocking. Fritz Lang’s Film "M" dealt with a child murderer. F. W. Murnau’s famous piece "Nosferatu" infamized the modern vampire and the film "Die Büchse der Pandora" by director Georg Wilhem Pabst presented all the vices and corruption of man – subjects that were all but taboo in the arts until that time. The list goes on and on. Herr Hass seems to have been inspired by this movement and therefore transferred his ideas to music. The expressionist film "Das Cabinett des Doktor Caligari" (1920) by director Robert Wiene was used as a theme for a song by Rainer Hass entitled "Du Mußt Caligari Werden".

Rainer Hass never enjoyed a prosperous career and his talents were never appreciated outside of Europe until after his death. Although he was never met with sufficient success, Herr Hass led a very prolific musical career, performed many times on the radio and recorded somewhere around two hundred songs, many of which have been lost or were destroyed during the war. By the time he was twenty-six, Herr Hass was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia which progressively worsened in the latter years of his life. As the war in Europe raged on, Rainer Hass took his own life and was found in his flat on Christmas day of 1943 - he had hung himself to death. He left no final testimony and the reasons for him having committed suicide are to this day still unknown.

So, you’re probably asking yourself – How did GraveWax Records come across Rainer Hass’s Music? Well, this is another story that is just as interesting, if not more than Herr Hass’s Biography. The Nazi period in Germany (1932 – 1945) has a lot to do with Rainer Hass’s music having disappeared. Jazz, ragtime and many other styles of music during this time were seen as degenerate by the National Socialist movement. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1932, many artisans whether it be writers, musicians, playwrights etc. fled the country. This includes many well known artists such as Fritz Lang, Berthod Brecht and Marlene Dietrich to name a few. One of those who fled, a certain Frau Sophia Schmitz (1908 – 1979), who worked as a cabaret dancer in Berlin, was an acquaintance and love interest of Rainer Hass. She fled to the United States in 1933 due to the fact that she was a member of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany). As Hitler’s party, the NSDAP, made itself more apparent in German society, it became dangerous for those who had been members to stay. Rainer Hass who was already beginning to suffer more severely from his mental illness, remained in Germany. From what we know, he was never involved in the KPD, NSDAP or any other political party. Before she emigrated to the United States, Herr Hass requested that she take his records and recordings with her. This she did, and in 1933 left her homeland and never returned. They kept in contact by letter for a few years; this dwindled and the last letter Rainer Hass sent is dated July 17th 1935. In it, he states that he had given up on any future musical career in Germany and decided to wait to see if the political climate would change. Sadly for him, it never would.

In New York, Sophia met an American Frank O’Brian and was married in 1935. In 1936 they moved to Chicago where she spent the rest of her days. Here, the story sleeps for several decades until after Sophia’s death in 1979. Mr. O’Brian had died in 1975 and their house was left to their children John, Karl, and Joanna. John took the house and the rest of the property was divided amongst the children. Here, it seems that Rainer Hass’s music was laying in the basement where it stayed for about twenty more years until 2001 when Sophia’s grandson Andy O’Brien rediscovered the music in the basement while cleaning it for his father. Andy, being a big music fan, contacted us and since then has been working with us to get Rainer Hass’s music out there again. We are thrilled to have his music and be releasing it. We are sure that you won’t be disappointed.




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