Hans Krása was born in Prague on 30 November 1899. His affluent family encouraged and generously supported his musical studies, to the extent that his father hired instrumental ensembles in order for Hans to hear his compositions. Krása studied with Alexander Zemlinsky in Prague, and in 1921, even prior to the completion of his studies at the German Music Academy in that city, he began working as a vocal coach at the New German Opera. He spent considerable time in Paris, where he came to admire, among others, the works of Igor Stravinsky. Krása had some performances in the United States and France in the 1920s and several of his compositions were published in Vienna and Paris. A close or even casual acquaintance with his works reveals a composer of exceptionally beautiful music, and he merits attention by performers, audiences and musicologists. The fact that Krása led a rather Bohemian lifestyle, thereby missing opportunities of writing more works, is countered by the quality of those pieces that have been preserved. Indeed, had Krása died before the onset of the Second World War, his name would merit recognition as that of an artist who enriched the music of our era with a number of fresh, original and significant compositions. Krása, however, did not die before the war. After spending several years in Terezin, where he was active in its musical life, he left for Auschwitz on 16 October 1944 (along with Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas and Gideon Klein), and perished immediately in a gas chamber.
Krása's works dating from the 1920s and 1930s include several song cycles, both orchestral and with piano, a symphony for small orchestra, a string quartet, a cantata, Die Erde ist des Herrn (The Earth is the Lord's), an opera, Verlobung in Traum (Betrothed in a Dream, to a story by Dostoevsky) and a chamber work for harpsichord and seven instruments.
Although there are few extant writings by the composer, a comment on his opera in the programme booklet of its single performance in Prague applies equally to his music generally:
If I state that I was influenced by Schönberg, by that I wish to emphasise the fact that I am trying all the more to avoid the emptiness which is so favoured. I try to write in such a way that every bar, every recitative and every note is necessarily a solid part of the whole. This logic, without which every composition has no spirit, can, however, degenerate into mathematic-scientific music if the iron law of opera is not heeded, namely that the sense and aim of opera is the singing. I am sufficiently daring, as a modern composer, to write melodic music. This reflects my whole attitude to music, whether it is called modern or anything else. My music is strictly founded on the concept of accessible melodic character.