Clara Haskil, her life, her work.

Portrait of Clara Haskil, anonymous, n.d.
Clara Haskil Fund, BCU Lausanne

A fund containing the Clara Haskil archives is housed at the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne:

The Clara Haskil Association financed the work of sorting and cataloging this collection, as well as the development of two databases, one devoted to the concerts given by the pianist during her career, the other to the recordings that she realized. These two databases make it possible to know the repertoire played by Clara Haskil.

This work was carried out by two musicologists, Nancy Rieben, lecturer at the Musicology Unit of the University of Geneva who is currently carrying out research on Clara Haskil, and Camille Dinkel.

her life


Birth of Clara Haskil on January 7 in Bucharest.


On July 2, death of Clara’s father from pneumonia contracted during a fire in the building where the family lives.


After studying the piano with her mother Berthe, Clara Haskil entered the Bucharest Conservatory.


Departure for Vienna where Clara Haskil studies the piano with Richard Robert. She now lives with her uncle Avram Moscuna. On November 16, she gave her first concert.


Departure for Paris. Clara Haskil entered the Conservatory where she became, in 1907, a pupil of Alfred Cortot. Often absent, the latter is regularly replaced by Lazare-Lévy. Haskil also works with Joseph Morpain with whom she will maintain a long friendship.


On June 13, Clara Haskil won first prize for violin at the Union française de la jeunesse. The jury is chaired by Jacques Thibaud. At the Conservatory, she only won a second prize for piano.


Clara Haskil wins her first piano prize at the Paris Conservatoire.


In Switzerland, Ferruccio Busoni heard Clara Haskil play and suggested to his mother that the young pianist come to study with him in Berlin. The mother refuses, which Clara will regret all her life.


Clara Haskil is sent to Berck, in the north of France, to treat a deforming scoliosis. She remained there, imprisoned in a corset, until the end of the war in 1918.


Her mother died of cancer on December 31.


At the end of the war, Clara Haskil returned to Paris and met Mme Gélis-Didot and Mme Desmarais, who would become her patrons.


Passing through Switzerland to rest, Clara Haskil met Werner Reinhart who invited her several times to perform in Winterthur and Emile-William Rossier, member of the committee of the Orchester de la Suisse Romande and president of the Association Arts et Letters to Vevey.

She finds the scene left in December 1913.


First tour in the United States and Canada.


Second tour in the United States.


On April 7, in Lausanne, Clara Haskil gives her first concert with cellist Pablo Casals. Their friendship will last all the life of Clara Haskil and they will give about fifteen concerts together.

Third tour in the United States.


Clara Haskil signs a contract with the firm Polydor for which she records some 78 laps.

From 1934, and during the years preceding the war, Clara Haskil played several times with the Orchester National de France under the direction of Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht.


On June 12, Clara Haskil gives a duo concert with the Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti, to whom she is very close. Clara places a lot of hope in this duo, but they will only give five concerts together in the end.


Jewish, Clara Haskil is no longer safe in Paris. Inghelbrecht allows him to go into the free zone with the members of the Orchester National de France. Thanks to her friend Youra Guller, she stayed, like many other artists, in Montredon (Marseille) with Countess Lily Pastré.


Clara Haskil is operated on by trepanation of a tumor on the optic nerve. To celebrate the pianist’s “return to life”, the Countess Pastré organized a concert for her in the gardens of Montredon. She plays Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 in D minor K.466. But the free zone is no longer safe: Clara Haskil obtains a visa for Switzerland and arrives in Geneva, at the Eaux-Vives station, on November 7. On November 11, the free zone was occupied by the Germans.


Clara Haskil befriends Michel Rossier, a marble worker from Vevey, who will become her friend and her manager.


First collaboration with Bernhard Paumgartner, the conductor with whom Haskil gave the greatest number of concerts.


Clara Haskil obtains Swiss nationality.


Clara Haskil meets Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux in Prades. They will give about fifty concerts together.

On December 2, Dinu Lipatti dies of cancer at the age of 33.


On April 7, Clara Haskil signs an exclusive contract with Philips.

In May, she stays in Ascona in the same hotel as Herbert von Karajan but she does not dare approach him.

On July 10, she moves into an apartment on Quai Perdonnet in Vevey.


On October 15, she gave her first concert with Herbert von Karajan, at the Musikverein in Vienna. Their collaboration will be renewed about twenty times.


Clara Haskil meets Charlie Chaplin. The latter buys a Steinway so that she can play a good piano when she comes to the Manoir de Ban.

She received the Grand Prix du Disque from the Charles Cros Academy for her recording of the Sonata in B flat major D.960 by Schubert.


On September 29, Clara Haskil gives her only concert in Italy with Isaac Stern.

United States tour.


Clara Haskil receives with Arthur Grumiaux the Grand Prix du Disque from the Charles Cros Academy for their recording of Mozart sonatas.

From November 1957 to March 1958, she was prevented by illness and stayed in a room at the Hotel Cayré in Paris. She has to cancel many concerts as well as a tour of the United States.


In September, Clara Haskil receives the Legion of Honor. On this occasion, Oona and Charlie Chaplin organize a party at Ban’s mansion.


In September, the Vevey theater turns into a recording studio for a few days. The municipality prohibits traffic to guarantee silence. Clara Haskil records Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas op.31 n°2 and 3 for Philips.

In October and November, she recorded Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 with Igor Markevitch in Paris, Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, as well as Mozart’s Concertos K.466 and K.491.

On December 1, Clara Haskil gives her very last concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with Arthur Grumiaux. She died on December 7 following a fall on the stairs of Brussels station.