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HANS GAL - Composer, pianist, conductor and musicologist of international renown.


A Personal Tribute and Memoir

Hans Gal unquestionably merits a place among those who have brought honour to British music. Not that he was British by birth - only by adoption and choice. Nor, even in such works as the Two Scottish Rhapsodies for Cello and Piano (composed in 1960 by way of compliment to his adopted country), did his music ever lose the flavour of his central-European origins. But more than half Gal’s long and musically prolific life was spent in Britain, where he was a notable figure on the musical scene for nearly half a century. And the innumerable British musicians, younger and older, who came under his influence during those years, would readily testify to its abiding importance in their lives and musical careers.

To consider first Gal’s compositions: the catalogue is impressive, with the tally running to one hundred and ten opus numbers, eleven works published without opus number and thirteen unpublished works. The list also covers an astonishing range: solo works of many kinds; music for a huge variety of chamber-music ensembles - for both strings and wind instruments, with and without piano, and also for vocal groups; and numerous large-scale works: symphonies, operas, concertos and choral works. Moreover all this was achieved during a life when, as we shall see, there were always endless other demands on his time.

Hans Gal was born in Brunn am Gebirge, now a suburb of Vienna, on August 5th 1890, the second of the four children and the only son of a Viennese doctor. This was at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the name Gal is in fact Hungarian in origin, both sides of Gal’s family having come to Vienna from the eastern part of the great Habsburg empire only a couple of generations before.

The boy’s musical gifts were recognised early, and were encouraged especially by his aunt, Jenny Alt, the elder sister of his mother, who had herself been a singer and had worked with Richard Strauss during his early years in Weimar. It was through Aunt Jenny that Gal began studying the piano at about the age of eight - initially showing a scant enthusiasm for daily technical practice, quite normal in a small boy but amusing to recall in view of his later total dedication. In the course of time he became a pupil of Richard Robert, then one of the leading piano professors in Vienna, who numbered among his pupils Rudolf Serkin, Clara Haskil and George Szell; and by the time he left school in 1908 Gal was already an accomplished pianist.

From an early age he and his sisters were taken regularly to the Vienna Opera, and at fourteen or so Gal was becoming familiar with the operatic masterpieces of, among others, Mozart, Gluck, Wagner and Richard Strauss. And although at this stage he was given no technical training in composition he nevertheless managed unaided to complete around a hundred songs, four operatic sketches and many piano pieces - all of which he later destroyed as being merely ‘works of his apprenticeship’.

His further musical studies were financed by an appointment, obtained through Richard Robert, to teach harmony and piano at Vienna’s New Conservatoire. For two years, he worked intensively on Form and Counterpoint as a private student of the renowned Eusebius Mandyczewski, who had been a close friend of Brahms’ and whom Gal always regarded as his ‘spiritual father’. He also studied music history at Vienna University and succeeded in gaining his doctorate at the unusually early age of 23 with a thesis on the style of the young Beethoven; yet more unusually his thesis was actually published in a well-known series, Studien zur Musikwissenschaft. In the meantime Gal was also producing a stream of compositions, although many of these, like his other early works, were destroyed, including even a symphony which had gained the Austrian State Prize for Composition in 1915.

The advent of World War I brought many of his musical activities to a temporary end, for Gal was obliged to serve in the Austrian army, and was posted at different times to Serbia, the Carpathians and Italy. But he somehow managed to continue composing at intervals and among his works to have survived are the Serbian Dances for Piano Duet (Op.3), the opera, Der Arzt der Sobeide [Sobeide’s doctor] (Op.4), and the String Quartet in F minor (published as Op.16).

On returning to Vienna after the war he took up an appointment as lecturer at Vienna University; and in 1922, undaunted by the devastating insecurities of life in Austria at the time, both political and economic, he embarked on a marriage to the twenty-year-old Hanna Schick which was eventually to endure for 65 years, ending only with Gal’s death in 1987.

Until 1929 he remained in Vienna, adding a stream of works to the list of his compositions, which were now being played throughout Europe, and performed by, among others, such distinguished conductors as Furtwängler, Fritz Busch, and George Szell. He was also active himself in performance, both playing and conducting, as well as editing over a hundred miniature scores for the Philharmonia series and working with Mandyczewski on the Complete Edition of the works of Brahms.

In 1929, following many international successes, Gal was offered and accepted the highly prestigious post of Director at the Conservatoire in Mainz. At that time the Mainz Conservatoire numbered nearly 1000 students and a teaching staff of about 70, and the four years Gal spent here were both stimulating and productive, while his reputation at home and abroad continued to grow. But the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazi Party meant that in 1933 he was immediately dismissed from his post and obliged to flee from Germany. Neither performance nor publication of his works was now permitted; and, had he remained, he and his family, being Jewish, would have been in grave danger.

First he returned to Vienna, where for a time he was able to pick up some of the old threads and to continue composing and performing, although he was now mainly dependent for a livelihood on giving private lessons. To quote from the short biographical account provided in 1995 by Eva Fox-Gal and Anthony Fox: ‘The major composition of this period, the cantata De Profundis (Op.50) ... [a setting of 17th Century German words, for soloists, chorus and orchestra] ... reflects in its choice of texts Gal’s own sense of impending cataclysm; but the music unshakeably affirms his faith in the continuity of the musical tradition in which he was so deeply rooted’.

Life was becoming more precarious every day, and by 1938 it was clear, even before the Nazi annexation of Austria, that the Gals who now had two sons could no longer remain in Vienna. Early in March 1938 they began to organise their escape through Switzerland to England, with the various members of the family leaving separately in order not to arouse suspicion. Hanna went first, followed a week later by Hans; finally by the two boys, who stayed on for a while in the care of friends. Gal had left only just in time; soon after his departure two Gestapo officials arrived demanding to know his whereabouts. By a stroke of good fortune, a letter was found, confirming a musical engagement in Switzerland ...

Today it is strange to recall that the Gals’ original plan had been to travel onwards from England and seek refuge in America. How many lives in Britain would have been the poorer had they carried out this plan! But a chance meeting in London with Sir Donald Tovey, then Professor of Music at Edinburgh University, altered everything. Tovey and Gal had many friends in common, among them Rudolf Serkin and Fritz Busch; they had already met on at least one occasion in Vienna, and they would have had no problems in communicating since Tovey spoke excellent German. The two also shared many of the same Austro-German musical traditions; and Tovey, with characteristic generosity, at once offered to try and obtain a position for Gal in Edinburgh University’s Music Faculty. No opening was immediately available, but Tovey managed to persuade the University authorities to employ Gal for six months to catalogue the Music Faculty’s library - apparently it was in some disarray at the time. This work can hardly have been a challenging occupation for someone of Gal’s status and reputation, but it did provide the means for him, at least temporarily, to support himself and his family while looking for other work. And there were bonuses: during his researches Gal unearthed an unknown Haydn symphony! Moreover, six months working in a library offered him an opportunity to do some reading himself for almost the first time in his busy life.

At that point, I did not know Gal, but everything I have learnt since about him as a person makes me certain that he accepted the situation philosophically and simply got on with the job. He was always a complete realist (as demonstrated on an occasion many years later, when a women’s choir in the USA offered him a substantial commission for a choral work, provided he would set a text of quite horrendous and embarrassing banality. ‘My first reaction [he said afterwards] was of outright refusal. But then I thought to myself, "What would Mozart have done?" And I knew he would have set these words, horrible as they were. So I set them’).

Unfortunately the hoped for university post did not materialise, for not long after this Professor Tovey became terminally ill; and once the cataloguing was completed Gal had to return to London, where in the meantime his wife, who was a qualified speech therapist, had managed to find some occasional work. But the outbreak of World War II brought to an end any further possibility of finding work in London, and it was only the kindness of the late Sir Herbert Grierson (Emeritus Professor at Edinburgh University) that saved the day: he offered a temporary home to the Gals in exchange for Hanna’s services as housekeeper. The autumn of 1939 saw the family’s return to Edinburgh, where Gal quickly began to compose again, and to establish himself in performing and conducting (he started a madrigal choir and a ‘refugee’ orchestra).

All went well until Whitsun 1940. Then, following the fall of France, wide-spread fears of invasion led to the British authorities ordering the internment of those known as ‘Enemy Aliens’. Gal was sent first to Huyton, near Liverpool, and then to the Isle of Man. In both places conditions were primitive - akin to those in a POW camp. Moreover the authorities made no distinction between those Germans and others who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis and had come to Britain as genuine refugees, and those who were supporters - in some cases, to a fanatical degree - of Hitler and his regime. All were herded together.

No doubt as a result of all the stress, Gal suffered badly from eczema during this time, but he nevertheless continued to compose. One work to have survived from the period is the ‘Huyton Suite’ for 2 violins and flute (published many years later as Op.92); it, as so often happens with composers, having been written for this particular combination simply because these were the only instruments and players available.

Gal also, for the only time in his life, kept a diary; and this recorded both his day to day impressions of the internment camp and his thoughts on many subjects, musical and otherwise. Immediately after his return he typed out three copies, two being for his two particular friends in the camp; (and his daughter, Eva Fox-Gal, has prepared an edition of the diary for publication in Switzerland).

The coming of war, which had led to internment and the disruption of life for so many of those unfairly labelled ‘enemy aliens’, did in the end help the Gal family to solve one problem - that of accommodation in Edinburgh. For it turned out that a well-known girls’ school, which had been evacuated to the country at the beginning of the war, required a resident caretaker for their extensive premises in Rothesay Place - a street of handsome five-storey houses situated in what may be termed the second phase of Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’. Hanna Gal was recommended for this position of trust and was able to move here with her family following Hans’ release from the internment camp in September 1940.

To the best of my knowledge, the Gals lived mainly on the ground and basement floors of this vast house, where the lofty ceilings and spacious rooms certainly offered splendid conditions for music-making. I don’t recall ever seeing any of the upstairs rooms, and rather think they were kept closed possibly with any remaining furniture swathed in dust-sheets, as was customary in those days. But I did become very familiar with the ground-floor room at the back: this was where Gal did his teaching, and it housed his piano, his precious scores and all his other music - miraculously saved to follow the family after their flight from Vienna. The music included the complete Bachgesellschaft, and the original edition of all Brahms’s works, on which Gal in his youth had collaborated with Mandyczewski. (And - moving ahead for a moment, many years and to a different house - I remember that when I was preparing for a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto, Gal showed me in one of these volumes Brahms’s early version of the coda to the last movement - which, interestingly, is both longer and more elaborate than the final version.)

At first my acquaintance with Hans Gal, who was many decades my senior, not to mention being a person of international reputation, was naturally confined to a teacher-pupil context. I had lessons from him in harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and so on, and can testify that in teaching, as in all things, he was immensely thorough and endlessly interesting. Altogether a wonderful teacher, if at first a little awe-inspiring; for although Gal always wore his vast musical knowledge and expertise with great modesty, they were so obvious to even a young pupil as to be for a while somewhat overwhelming. Nor was Gal’s remarkable learning confined to musical matters: he was steeped in German poetry and writings of all periods, had a wide knowledge and great love of French literature, hugely admired Dickens among other English writers, and held Sir Walter Scott in particular esteem.

It was of some comfort to be assured at the first lesson that cellists usually had a very good natural sense of harmony - ‘far better than violinists who can become too accustomed to playing always the top line’, and apparently I was no exception. On the other hand, he described my sense of counterpoint as non-existent. How I envied the way he used to sit writing fugues as speedily and easily as some people write letters - more easily than some! It was fascinating to watch as he wrote, giving a running commentary the while; in no time at all, or so it seemed, a complete exposition would be there, demonstrating the use of whatever fugal devices had been selected. And no topic could be mentioned - musical or otherwise - where he did not have some striking and useful comment to offer.

His pianistic skills were also continually in evidence during the lessons, when any musical work of any kind that he mentioned - symphony, concerto, chamber-music, opera or whatever it might be - was always illustrated at the piano, either from the full score or from memory.

Later I learnt that the piano was an essential part of Gal’s daily life, and it was always to remain so. I remember on my last visit to him, not long before his death, being greeted by sounds of a Bach Fugue as I walked towards the front door, for Bach was his lifetime favourite. In earlier days, it could equally well have been Chopin, for whose music he expressed great enthusiasm: ‘As the years go by, I have come to admire Chopin more and more’. An admiration that was reflected in the 24 Piano Preludes (Op.83) he wrote in 1960, which follow Chopin’s scheme of having one prelude in each of the twelve major and minor keys. Gal’s Preludes also say much about his own pianistic skill - something else that always remained with him, despite problems caused at one point by ganglions, for which he underwent no fewer than six operations with complete nonchalance.

As well as having individual lessons with Gal, I was also fortunate enough to attend (as did my mother) the sessions he named his Collegium Musicum. These classes were, I think, originally established in the Rothesay Place house around the middle of World War II, and over the years they were to become a unique feature of Edinburgh’s musical life. In my day (mid-1940s) the meetings were held in the flat at No. 19 Warrender Park Crescent, overlooking the Meadows, to which the Gals had moved late in 1944, and each week the pattern was similar. First, at three o’clock, a group of instrumentalists would assemble to rehearse under Gal’s direction a work of his choice. This could sometimes be as relatively well-known as Bach’s Suite in B minor for Flute and Strings, or Schubert’s Trout Quintet, but was often something unknown to any of us. The time for rehearsal was necessarily limited, and I think the actual standard of performance must have been variable, for the players were mixed in both age and ability. But we all learnt a tremendous amount about getting to the heart of a piece of music as quickly as possible, as well as gaining much invaluable knowledge about points of style and interpretation. We also learnt to be always alert and ready to begin, for Gal was not someone - either as pianist or conductor - who liked to wait for dilatory colleagues, being indeed far more likely in his enthusiasm to plunge in regardless, while other players were still trying to sort out their music.

After the rehearsal the listeners would arrive, and performers and audience then enjoyed the splendid tea Hanna Gal always managed to provide for everyone, despite all the restrictions of food rationing (this, as some may recall, lasted until around 1954). Next came the actual lecture - for want of a better word - when Gal, seated at the piano, would take players and listeners on a guided tour of the chosen work, pointing out musical and historical features of special interest. Each step was illustrated with musical examples, and underlined with his own inimitable touches of humour. Who but Gal could have demanded particular attention to the bass at the opening of a Bach Cantata by saying ‘If ever I would be re-incarnated, I would like to be a passing seventh in the bass’? (The descending bass at the opening of Bach’s ‘Air in D’ - widely known in the version ‘Air on the G string’ - provides an example of the passing seventh.) Finally there would be a performance of the whole work. And I cannot imagine that anyone who attended those sessions failed to gain life-long benefits from them. How often I’ve wished that present-day students in our music colleges could have similar opportunities to acquire what the curriculum calls ‘practical skills’ in the preparation and performance of music. But then there has only been one Hans Gal.

Gal’s outward appearance was austere, for the delightful humour and humanity which were so characteristic of him did not always emerge immediately. As far as I can remember my first meeting with him in an off-duty situation happened one summer soon after the war, when I was invited, with two younger relatives, to visit the Gal family at St.Abbs Head - a place on Scotland’s east coast renowned for its bracing air. We three were accustomed to the chilly North Sea, and were delighted when, after lunch, a swim was proposed; but we were completely astonished when Dr Gal himself joined us and went striding into the waves, a figure spare to the point of skinniness in his old-fashioned bathing suit. Few of the adults in our family would have ventured into the sea at this exposed spot! But Gal appeared undaunted by either the cold or the considerable size of the breakers. It turned out that swimming was among his preferred recreations; and it was always to remain so, for (although I naturally couldn’t know this at the time) Gal continued, until well into his 80s, to swim regularly at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool.

A similar disciplined attitude characterised his whole approach to music and to life. Sometimes to quite an extraordinary degree: at the time of the tragic death of his younger son, Gal was plainly in a state of complete devastation, but he insisted on continuing with his usual schedule of lessons and other commitments. Many of the pupils failed to turn up, almost certainly out of a misplaced idea of being helpful, but my mother’s advice was: ‘If Dr Gal wishes the lessons to continue, then you should attend as usual’. It wasn’t an easy experience to be the only pupil present on the first day. But, looking back, I think this may have marked the point where our teacher-pupil relationship began slowly to grow into friendship.

Gal was unquestionably kind, although his comments sometimes belied this, for they were always direct and to the sharpest of points. He once remarked of a well-known singer: ‘Yes, yes, he has a beautiful voice - but he has the reactions of cattle’; and he dismissed the compositions that had eventually gained me an honours degree in music, with a shrug of the shoulders and a dry ‘Well - I would not perform them’ . Nor did he have much time for those who asked superficial questions: as on the occasion when Rostropovich was making his very first appearance in Edinburgh, where he was then unknown (unbelievable as it seems now), and Gal was asked by a worthy Edinburgh citizen: "Tell me, Dr Gal, how does this man compare with So-and-So (naming another cellist, well known in Edinburgh)?" The answer was a brusque: "He is perhaps five, perhaps ten times better." I recall, too, being a little surprised once, when I had enquired about his wife’s health in a letter, to read the reply: ‘Hanna is very well, except for a little concussion of the brain [!] which she got falling on the garden path during the snow’. The concept of being ‘very well’ apart from concussion was an interesting one.

Into the bargain, Gal’s comments were sometimes voiced in an outspoken way that could appear almost ruthless. At one point, when the West was first making contact with conservatoires behind the now defunct ‘Iron Curtain’, there was much controversy about the emphasis placed by these institutions on the paramount importance of a rigorous technical training for music students. By some in Britain, this intense concentration on technique was seen as damaging to the students’ musical development, but Gal disagreed. No-one could have set greater store than he did on the value of all-round musical culture, but he nevertheless was clear that to provide young players with technical expertise could only help any who really had something musical to say, because it would ensure they then had the means with which to say it. ‘As for the others - if in the process the very little musicality they have is squeezed out, it is no great matter.’ However he could also be generous: I treasure a memory of his saying after a Wigmore Hall recital ‘Your Beethoven was glorious’; and he was always ready to praise the achievements of others.

Thinking of Gal always brings back memories of his particular and very personal mode of speech; for although his command of English both written and spoken was outstanding, he always retained a certain idiosyncratic turn of phrase. Perhaps this was partly because he had arrived in Britain at the relatively late age of 48, and partly because he and Hanna did, I gather, almost always speak German together at home. But I can’t help wondering whether Gal’s German may also have had a strongly individual flavour. My own knowledge of German hardly qualifies me to pronounce on this; and in any case I only ever heard Gal speaking German on one occasion, which was during rehearsals for a performance at the Austrian Institute of a duo for Viola D’Amore and Cello, when the excellent Viennese viola player, Professor Hans Slumpf, spoke almost no English.

One phrase that Gal often used about, for example, a wrong chord or progression in a piece of harmony, was "In such a way does it not sound". This presumably was a direct translation of the German ‘es stimmt nicht’, meaning simply that it didn’t make sense; but the English words always produced a picture in my mind of the music being suddenly and mysteriously silenced by the errors.

A whole chapter could be filled with Gal’s memorable comments and remarks, both humorous and serious. Some were down to earth and practical: ‘One only learns to play at concerts by playing at concerts’; or [referring to the first movement repeat in the Schubert B flat Trio which contains some notoriously awkward corners] ‘One should never play this repeat, because if all has gone well one should not risk it again; and if all has not gone well, one should not risk it again.’ Some, perceptive: [said of a talented young player with very small hands] ‘One does not make music with the fingers alone’. Some quirky, like the ending of the letter he wrote me when my late husband, the Scottish pianist Alexander Kelly, and I were getting married: ‘Tell Alexander that if he is not good to you I will come personally and hit him on the head with a big bass clef!’ Or his dismissal of some part-improvised modern works: ‘In the music where there are no wrong notes, it follows there can be no right notes either’. Some unexpected: ‘The older I get, the more I agree with the Apostle Paul that love is the only thing that matters.’

Another unexpected side to Gal was his great fondness for children - at least, this was something of which I hadn’t been consciously aware before I was married with my own family. My daughters (now long since grown up), used from an early age to join me on visits to Hans and Hanna; and they remember them both today as being among those gifted adults who never talk down to children but always address them as equals. Nor did Hanna ever fail to have some particularly delicious goodies available for them to sample.

Turning now for a moment from more personal memories, to consider some of Hans Gal’s compositions: the fact that Gal had extraordinary technical facility in writing music, as demonstrated for instance during his counterpoint lessons, should not mislead anyone into thinking he had a facile approach to composition. Undoubtedly, as the size of his output alone makes clear, he did possess immense fluency as a composer. But no one hearing, for example, the slow movement of his Sonata for Cello and Piano (Op.89) could fail to recognise the deep feeling that underlies the music - sparely written and simple as it is. This sonata was one that my late husband and I frequently performed (there is a recording in the Scottish Archives); and I had the privilege of playing it at the concerts organised in 1970 and 1980 by the Austrian Institute in London, to celebrate respectively Gal’s 80th and 90th birthdays. On the first occasion the pianist was my husband, but on the second Gal himself played the piano part. And his comment afterwards was typical: ‘Well - I am modest. So I will only say, I never hope to hear it better played.’

Other works of Gal’s that I came to know well as a performer include the Serenade for Clarinet, Violin and Cello (Op.93) - a work written much earlier than the opus number suggests, and with a strongly romantic tinge; the Suite for Cello and Piano (Op.6) - one of Gal’s earlier surviving works, with a particularly beautiful slow movement in B major, which I remember being invited to play with him at a party in Edinburgh to celebrate his 60th birthday (and being greatly intimidated to learn that for a much earlier birthday performance the cellist had been Casals!); the Trio for Violin, Viola D’Amore and Cello (Op.104), commissioned in 1971 by Montague Cleeve and the Viola D’Amore Society; and the Variations on a ‘Wiener Heurigenmelodie’ for Piano Trio. This last is a charming light-hearted piece, based on the tune a local singer at a Heurigen in Grinzing (a suburb of Vienna) had used when extemporising verses, complimentary and otherwise, about well-known local personalities - thus making it a natural theme for variations. (I also have vivid recollections of performing a piece for viola d’amore and cello, but to date it has not been possible to find the manuscript of this.)

Then, as a listener, I became very familiar with the 24 Preludes for Solo Piano; these were particular favourites of my late husband, who frequently performed them, and he included a selection in at least one of his broadcasts. Some of the Preludes were also on the programme at the Austrian Institute’s celebratory concert for Gal’s 90th birthday, being played then by the ninety-year-old composer himself - quite a remarkable achievement as they are by no means easy.

However, an intimate knowledge of a few works, and some acquaintance with a handful of others - among them, the Cello Concerto and the Scottish Rhapsodies - leaves me deeply aware of the vast number of Gal’s compositions I have never even heard. There are, too, all his critical writings which include a number of important books - about Brahms, Schubert, Wagner and Verdi, among others - and many articles. The list given in the catalogue of Gal’s works (originally compiled to mark his 95th birthday in 1985, by Eva Fox-Gal and Anthony Fox) mentions nineteen titles, in both English and German, published between 1913 and 1982 - and I think there have been others since then. But the aim of this article has been to produce, not a piece of academic criticism but a personal tribute and memoir, as well as some record of Gal’s life and achievements. And to fill in the latter, it becomes necessary at this point to go back some years, to the period between 1945 and 1987.

It was in the autumn of 1945 that Professor Sidney Newman, Tovey’s successor in the Chair of Music at Edinburgh University, invited Hans Gal to become a lecturer in the Music Faculty. And over the years - to quote again from the account by Eva Fox-Gal and Anthony Fox: ‘He became a well-known and respected figure in the musical life of Edinburgh, as composer, performer, scholar and teacher, and was involved in establishing the Edinburgh International Festival. Numerous honours were awarded him for his services to music. They include honorary doctorates in Edinburgh and Mainz, the OBE in 1964, and, from his native Austria. a further state prize (1958) [the first award had been in 1915] and, in 1981, the highest and most prestigious Austrian state honour, Litteris et Artibus. In the meantime his compositions were once again being regularly performed in Britain, Europe and the USA.

The celebrations of Gal’s 80th and 90th birthdays have already been mentioned; and in April 1982 a large gathering was held at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall in honour of Hans and Hanna’s Diamond Wedding; it was attended by relatives and friends from around the globe, and those taking part in the musical programme included the Gals’ daughter Eva, and their two very young grandchildren, Simon and Tanya Fox.

For some people, living to a great old age can bring more problems than blessings; but to the end of his life Gal remained active, and it was only during the very last days that he had to leave home and go into a hospice. Even then, although he was very weak, his mind was still full of lively interest in the world beyond his bedside; on the last afternoon, when his wife arrived, he greeted her with some impatience because he had been trying vainly to remember the name of a particular play by Grillparzer. Fortunately Hanna was able to tell him the title.

The following day, the 3rd of October 1987, he died peacefully at the splendid age of 97 years and two months. Truly a remarkable life.


Hans Gal was always convinced that our life in this world is the only one we have, and that beyond the grave lies nothing. I hope he would forgive me if I end by saying that, as a firm believer in a better world to come, I think he may now be enjoying a glorious surprise.

Margaret Moncrieff Kelly

see also Three emigrés: Gál, Gerhard and Goldschmidt by Guy Rickards


I am greatly indebted to Eva Fox-Gal for all her invaluable help; especially for so generously supplying information, and for reading and correcting my MSS. Other source material was provided by HANS GAL - a Catalogue of His Works, compiled 1995 by Eva Fox-Gal and Anthony Fox; and in Wilhelm Waldstein’s biographical study, ‘Hans Gal’, published 1965 in Vienna by VERLAG ELISABETH LAFITE.

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