The New York Times - February 8, 2005
Karl Haas, Radio Ambassador of Classical Music, Dies at 91
By ANNE MIDGETTE
Karl Haas, the popular classical music commentator whose
program "Adventures in Good Music" was once the most listened
to classical music radio show in the world, died on Sunday
at a hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. He was 91.
Bridgett Emerson, a syndication associate of WCLV-FM in
Cleveland, which began producing his nationally syndicated
program in 1970, attributed the death to natural causes.
Trained as a concert pianist, Mr. Haas gave recitals and
conducted throughout his life, and from 1967 to 1971 served
as president of the institution now known as the Interlochen
Center for the Arts. He wrote a book, "Inside Music," that
is now in its 10th printing, and he produced three CD's with
But his primary legacy is his show, which began in 1959 in
Detroit and which he continued to produce until two years
ago. (It is still broadcast in reruns on about 100 stations.)
For it, Mr. Haas received two Peabody Awards for excellence
in broadcasting, among many other awards. In 1997, it became
the first classical music program inducted into the Radio
Hall of Fame.
Hallmarks of "Adventures in Good Music" included a snippet
of Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata played at the beginning
and end of each broadcast (sometimes by Mr. Haas himself),
Mr. Haas's slightly accented English, and the punning titles
he thought up for his programs, including "Haydn, Go Seek,"
"From Stern to Bow" (about the violinist Isaac Stern), "Baroque
and in Debt" and "The Joy of Sax."
One listener wrote Haas in the 1960's to say that it was a
"longhair program with a crew cut," a description he was happy
to repeat. Some longhairs looked down their noses a bit at
Mr. Haas, but that didn't matter to thousands of regular
Mr. Haas was born in Speyer-am-Rhein, Germany, on Dec. 6,
1913, and began piano lessons at 6 with his mother; later
teachers included the eminent pianist Arthur Schnabel. In
1936, denied a job because he was Jewish, he left Germany and
emigrated to the United States, settling in Detroit and working
for a year to earn the money to help his family and his future
wife, Trudie, follow him a year later.
Mr. Haas's broadcasting career began in Detroit in 1950,
when he was host of weekly previews of Detroit Symphony
concerts. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation then asked
him to play piano and conduct a chamber orchestra for a weekly
program, and gradually encouraged him to talk about the music
he was playing during the broadcast. By 1959, WJR in Detroit
offered him a weekly hourlong show of music and commentary;
it became Detroit's No. 1 show in its time slot for two
Mr. Haas, who still lived in Michigan at the time of his
death, was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by the French
government and received eight honorary doctorates.
His wife died in 1974. He is survived by a daughter, Alyce,
and two sons, Jeffrey and Andrew, all of Michigan; and two
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