Born in Caracas, Reynaldo Hahn moved with his family to Paris at the age of three. There he studied at the Conservatoire under Massenet and made a particular impression with his songs, which he sang himself. His interest in the theatre led to his appointment in 1945 as director of the Paris Opéra.
Hahn wrote a considerable amount of music for the theatre: operas, ballets and incidental music. Of these the operetta Ciboulette remains in popular repertoire. Ballets include Le Dieu bleu (‘The Blue God’), written for Diaghilev, with a scenario by Cocteau and Madrazo.
Orchestral music by Reynaldo Hahn has proved less durable, but his concertos for piano and for violin repay study.
Chamber music by Hahn includes two string quartets, and a Piano Quintet that stands comparison with Fauré.
Reynaldo Hahn’s songs deserve an honoured place in French vocal repertoire, with the songs of Gabriel Fauré. They include settings of poems from Victor Hugo to Verlaine, with a curious group of songs in Venetian dialect and the ever popular Si mes vers avaient des ailes (‘If my verses had wings’).