ALOIS HÁBA (1893 - 1973)
Born in Moravia, Alois Hába is known particularly for his experiments with microtones, intervals of less than the diatonic semitone. He studied finally with Franz Schreker in Vienna and in Berlin and by about 1923 had developed a system of notation for quartertones, later expanded to deal with sixths of tones. He held a leading position among Czech avant-garde composers, although the wartime occupation of his country made performances of his music impossible and the Communist regime from 1948 proved equally restrictive.
Hába’s opera Matka (‘The Mother’) uses quartertones, and his third opera, Přijd’ království Tvé (‘Thy Kingdom Come’), uses sixths of tones. He makes use of micro intervals in other vocal works, even in children’s choruses.
Orchestral, Chamber and Instrumental Music
Hába’s orchestral music includes a Violin Concerto and a Viola Concerto. He makes full use of micro intervals in his string quartets, and had instruments constructed which made smaller division of the tone possible. He wrote a number of suites and fantasies for quartertone piano.