1875-08-09

REYNALDO HAHN, Venezuelan composer, born (d: 1947); One rarely hears the name of Reynaldo Hahn today, although, as a student of Massenet, he became one of the most popular composers in turn-of-the-century Paris. Because of his popularity, Diaghilev commissioned him to create, with the young Jean Cocteau, the ballet Le Dieu Bleu (1912), one of the few failures of the Ballets Russes.

As interest in this period of cultural history increases, Hahn is seen more and more in books (about Diaghilev, about Cocteau, about Proust) as a figure of some importance. He was a key member of the Paris Gay set, which included, among others, Diaghilev, Lucien Daudet, Marcel Proust, and the young Jean Cocteau. He was a student and a close friend of Saint-Saens, himself homosexual, and was Proust’s first lover.

It is said, in fact, that the musical battles of Hahn and Proust – Hahn championed the traditional Saint Saëns and Proust favored the radical Debussy – led eventually to their separation. Had Hahn’s musical tastes been those of his lover, the chances are that he might not have gone out of fashion so very soon.