Hannah Horovitz

HANNAH HOROVITZ, who died in March at the age of 73, was a much loved and highly respected music promoter, entrepreneur and enabler.

Born in Vienna in 1936, the youngest child of the international art publisher Bela Horovitz, founder of the Phaidon Press, and his wife Lotte, Hannah came to Britain with her family in 1938. Such roots gave Hannah a passionate  internationalist outlook on the arts  which remained throughout her life.

As a music agent, she helped launch the careers of artists such as András Schiff as well as representing leading performers like Jean-Pierre Rampal.  At the British Council’s Visiting Arts Unit, as deputy director between 1978 and 1996, she forged vital links between British and international cultural communities. She made `a big difference’ according to Thelma Holt with whom she worked closely during her time at the Roundhouse and later on Holt’s International season of foreign companies at the National Theatre in 1987. Other fledgling organisations who saw their fortunes flourish during her time included Dance Umbrella, the London International Mime Festival and Rose de Wend Fenton and her colleague Lucy Neal, founders of LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) who gained their first public grant thanks to Hannah’s support.

Hannah also initiated  the UK’s first Day of Yiddish Culture on the South Bank (1986), an event that, with the appearance of the Californian ensemble, `The Klezmorim’ helped trigger the klezmer revival in the UK.

Hannah will also be remembered for the Sunday morning concerts she helped develop at the Wigmore Hall. Later, she produced similar concerts at the Wallace Collection which, in characteristic style, she presented with more than a touch of Viennese panache.  She was in the process of developing another series linking music and science when illness overtook her, preventing  the realisation of her  final vision.

One of Hannah’s lasting achievements and one of which she was most proud was the premiere of the opera, Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) at the Nederlands Opera Studio in Amsterdam in 1975. Written by Czech composer Viktor Ullmann and poet Peter Klein in  Theresienstadt in 1943 (who both later perished in Auschwitz), Hannah was instrumental in introducing conductor Kerry Woodward to American director Rhoda Levine. The opera has since been filmed, recorded and performed worldwide – a fitting legacy to someone whose especial gift was to bring people together, artists and audiences alike, to the mutual enrichment of both.

 Hannah Horovitz: born 21 October, 1936 in Vienna; died 4 March 2010, London

First published in The Stage, 2010

see also The Guardian, May 2010