1874 — 1947
Reynaldo Hahn was born in Caracas, Venezuela, to parents of German and Spanish descent. But he made his career and his name as one of the most cosmopolitan creative stars in the already dazzling cultural firmament of belle-époque Paris, and as a master of French song. Arriving in France as an infant, he entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of eleven and had his first public success as a song composer at the age of 14. He befriended Verlaine, Mallarmé and his own teacher, Jules Massenet, and became the lover and confidant of Marcel Proust. His first stage work was premiered when he was just 19, and Hahn would go on to create a series of stylish and well-received stage works, including the ballet Le bal de Béatrice d'Este (1905) and the operettas Ciboulette (1923), Mozart (1925) and O mon bel inconnu (1933), which combined a graceful and sophisticated sensuality with a fresh melodic gift. Once seen as period pieces, they've enjoyed a revival of interest in the 21st century; meanwhile Hahn's extensive body of solo piano and chamber music, as well as his mélodies (over 100 in number) have long been part of the French repertoire: enjoyed for their poetic refinement, their sensitivity to mood and Hahn's elegant but deeply individual way with a tune.