O světě, který tu je i není - o věcech výjimečných i banálních, podivuhodných i trapných, temných i oslnivých, tristních i směšných, paradoxních i logických, stejně tak však i o věcech temně zářících, tragikomických, podivuhodně banálních,
výjimečně trapných či zcela logicky paradoxních. A o sobě, který tu je i není stejně tak.

neděle 15. července 2018

Vladimír Hirsch - Discography on Bandcamp


Bandcamp pages of the composer, instrumentalist and sound designer Vladimír Hirsch, integrating modern classical, industrial and dark ambient music with a genre overlap conception.

BANDCAMP albums - Solo works

Vladimír Hirsch - Bandcamp solo works


Besides creating solo works, he is the leading personality of bands and projects Skrol, Aghiatrias, Zygote (CZ), Luminar Ax, Subpop Squeeze, and Tiria, the former member of experimental post-punk group Der Marabu.






                                                                                                © Integrated Music Records 2018







Quora: "What the biggest contribution of Czechia to the world?

(Originally written Quora question: "What is the Czech Republic's biggest contribution to the world?")

The Czech Republic´s existence is only 25 years long and there is not anything special or substantial contribution to the world in the period between 1993 and today in my opinion.

But, Czechia´s - thus, the country in whole (both in contemporary and historical context) heritage is rich. What is the biggest one cannot judge. Everybody can choose :-)

1. Music - throughout more than one thousand years old history of Czechia - can be considered beneficial in both European and worldwide context, several times co-determined or determined a newly arriving era in musical art, above all in music of Classical era (Jan Václav Stamic, Jan K.Vaňhal, Josef Mysliveček, Antonín Rejcha), as well as by original attitudes in Baroque (Adam Michna, Jan Dismas Zelenka), Romantic era (Czech national music - Czech music school): Bedřich Smetana, in late Romanticism the greatest Czech composer Antonín Dvořák - among other things, the founder of American classical music and in Czechia born Gustav Mahler), and modern classical music (inimitable composer Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů), discovery in microtonal music (Alois Hába), high modern era (Miloslav Kabeláč, Petr Eben). More in my article: Czechia the heart of Europe | Music

2. Arts - in general, the Czech art is known worldwide for its individually made, mouth blown and decorated art glass and cut crystal, garnet and other gems jewelry, decorative and applied art. Painting: works of the Gothic era - Master of Vyšší Brod altar, the founder of the style, which dominated European painting around 1400. Baroque - An exceptional Czech artist Václav Hollar, the etcher of worldwide recognition. Art Nouveau and modernism - Alfons Mucha, world famous and one of the best known Czech artists. Abstract painting - František Kupka: a pioneer of abstract art, influencing substantially all modern painting movements. Interesting personalities in expressionism, cubism, and Cubo-expressionism, original post-war symbolism (Mikuláš Medek) and “explosionism” movement (Vladimír Boudník). Film and theatre: Karel Zeman, a pioneer with special effects (culminating in successful films such as artistically exceptional "Vynález zkázy" (A Deadly Invention, 1958); so-called Czech New Wave of the 1960s (linked with names of Miloš Forman, Věra Chytilová, Jiří Menzel, Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos, Evald Schorm, Vojtěch Jasný, Juraj Herz, etc.) and director František Vláčil with the original manuscript and the deep psychological impact with the extraordinary high-quality art received international acclaim; Jan Švankmajer - a filmmaker, known for his animations and features, which greatly influenced artists worldwide. Original Czech cultural phenomenon came into being at the end of the 1950s. This project called Laterna magika (The Magic Lantern) considered the first multimedia art project in international context.

3. Literature - Comenius (philosopher and writer), the innovator who first introduced pictorial textbooks, F.Kafka - widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature, humorist J.Hašek (The Good Soldier Švejk - the book which was translated into 60 languages). Names as B.Hrabal, K.Čapek and M.Kundera cannot be forgotten. Poetism - Czech literary avant-garde style and movement in poetry (main representant Jaroslav Seifert, Nobel Prize holder).

4. Architecture - Czechia is the country with rich architectural heritage from the Romanesque period until modern times, being the place of origin of several unique styles - unique mixture of Romanesque and Gothic style represents St. Procopius Basilica in Třebíč, considered to be the most bizarre work of the European architecture of the 13th century, Czech Baroque due to its complexity and uniqueness became an independent concept art history, an architectural singleton is the Baroque Gothic style (Jan Blažej Santini), a specifically Czech architectural style, called ‘Rondo-Cubism’, came into existence after 1918. Together with the pre-war Czech Cubist architecture, it is unparalleled elsewhere in the world. There are also contemporary Czech architects whose works can be found all over the world, e.g. works of Jan Kaplický.

5. Science - Prokop Diviš: lightning rod inventor; Jan Evangelista Purkyně: anatomist and physiologist of the first half of 19th century, discoverer of Purkinje cells in the brain (1837), was the first to use a microtome to make wafer thin slices of tissue for microscopic examination. He is also known for his discovery in 1839 of Purkinje fibers, the fibrous tissue that conducts electrical impulses from the atrioventricular node to all parts of the ventricles of the heart. Other discoveries include Purkinje images, reflections of objects from structures of the eye, and the Purkinje shift, the change in the brightness of red and blue colors as light intensity decreases gradually at dusk. Purkyně also introduced the scientific terms plasma and protoplasm the substance found inside cells. He was one of the best-known scientists of his time. Josef Ressel: ships propeller inventor. Gregor Mendel: the founder of the modern science of genetics, in Czechia born and working; Bedřich Hrozný - orientalist and linguist who deciphered the ancient Hittite language and laid the groundwork for the development of Hittitology. Sigmund Freud, neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis; Jaroslav Heyrovský: the inventor of the polarographic method, father of the electroanalytical method. Otto Wichterle - inventor of soft contact lenses. Stanislav Grof: founder in the field of transpersonal psychology; Antonín Holý - chemist of world recognition, inventor of the most effective drugs in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

6. Statesmen and influential personalities - St.Adalbert of Prague (in Czech svatý Vojtěch): Czech priest, bishop of Prague, who brought Christianity to nations of Central Europe - Hungarians, Poles, and Prussians. Přemysl Otakar II: Czech king, ruler of seven other countries, his reign stretched from Silesia to the Adriatic coast, founder of many towns and cities not only in Czechia, but in contemporary Poland and Prussia (13th century). Charles IV: Holy Roman Emperor. probably the most famous personality of the Czech state ever. He rebuilt the city of Prague as the capital of Central Europe and one of the intellectual and cultural centers of Europe. In 1348, he founded the Charles University in Prague, which was named after him and was the first university in Central Europe and third in Europe. Jan Hus - theologian, a Catholic priest, philosopher, who became a church reformer, an inspirer of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism and a seminal figure in the Czech Reformation (14–15th cent). King George of Poděbrady (Jiří z Poděbrad) - well known for his idea and attempt to establish common European institutions and supranational insignia. It is seen as the first historical vision of a European unity forgoing the European Union (15th century). Above mentioned Comenius (Jan Ámos Komenský) - inventor in educational systems, the theory of education, practical educational work, methods of education (17th cent.); Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk - the main personality of the founding of free modern Czech (and Slovak) democratic state in 1918

7. Soldiers - Jan Žižka: controversial Czech general, a contemporary and follower of Jan Hus, successful Hussite military leader (died 1424). He is considered to be among the greatest military leaders and innovators of all time. His accomplishments in this regard are especially unique and noteworthy as he had to quickly train peasants to repeatedly face highly trained and armored opponents who usually severely outnumbered his own troops, and for this, some have considered him to be the greatest general in history. Žižka developed tactics of using wagon forts, called vozová hradba in Czech (wagons fortification) as mobile fortifications, predecessors of tanks, with an original multifunctional armament of soldiers; Josef Václav Radecký (known internationally as Joseph Radetzky von Radetz): Czech nobleman and field marshal, chief of Austrian army (Czech lands were at that time a part of Austrian empire) who is considered one of the best commanders of 19th-century Europe. During his military career, he actively participated in the defeat of Napoleonic France and the reform of the army. Josef František - fighter pilot of World War II, the highest-scoring Allied ace in the Battle of Britain (1940)

8. products - Czech beer, worldwide known product of Pilsener (Plzeň/Pilsen - the city in the western part of Czechia) types of beers brewed by original technology using Czech raw materials (Bohemian hop); Bohemian glass - glass products made by original technologies, cutting-edge design and inimitable craftsmanship (incl.co-called Bohemian crystal - hand cut glass products). porcelain and jewelry, using own raw-materials, e.g.Bohemian garnet in the jewelry; Tamara and Věra radar system (passive sensor) of third generation, able to recognize targets of “stealth” type; Semtex worldwide known explosives; some original products of the Czech cuisine - above all pastries (salty and sweet as “koláče” & “buchty”), Czech finger sandwiches, Prague ham: a type of brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked pork boneless ham, Shpikachki (špekáčky) - type of sausage, made from finely cured mixture of pork and beef with smoked bacon liner, Bohemian breaded dumplings, pickled sausages (called “utopenci”, which means “drowned”) and fishes (“zavináče”), cheeses and vegetables (well known Znojmo pickled cucumbers), beer cheese, ripened cheeses (well known “Olomoucké tvarůžky” etc.), Czech potato pancakes, etc.; liquors - Wallachian “Slivovice”: strong plum brandy and “Becherovka”: sweet herbal liqueur from Karlovy Vary.

9. Czech words, which became international - robot (invented by Karel Čapek in his stage-play R.U.R., derived from the word “robota”, which was a compulsory unpaid work for landowners in the past), pistol (from Czech word “píšťala”), houfnice (English “howitzer”), polka, dollar (from Czech word “tolar”), hocus-pocus, tunel (in the sense of “tunnel the bank” - to rob the bank's assets by transferring money elsewhere by its own owners)

10. Sportsmen - football: Josef Bican, the greatest goalscorer of football history in Europe (and probably in whole world), Emil Zátopek - long-distance runner, only person to win the 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres, and marathon in the same Olympics, Věra Čáslavská - seven Olympic gold medals holder in gymnastics, all in individual events, which is an all-time record among female Olympians, Martina Navrátilová - tennis player, arguably the best female tennis player of all time, multiple winner of women's singles title at Wimbledon, Jaromír Jágr - ice hockey player, the best European player in the history of Canadian-American National Hockey League, ranking overall 2nd in points, third in goal scores, and first in the number of game-winning goals in all history of NHL.

(I hope that the other great personalities of Czechia I did not mention will forgive me) :-)

                                                                                                    Vladimír Hirsch (Quora, 2018)

neděle 8. dubna 2018

Vladimír Hirsch - Impressiones (Scripta Soli)

Vladimír Hirsch / Scripta Soli 




















"Scripta Soli" (“The writings of the earth”) is a thematic album for integrated techniques & field recordings. 2011-2017. The album is based on a fictive experience during apocalyptic war catastrophe, perceived from the position of a person imprisoned in the bunker. In epic form, it consists in descriptions of his feelings, memories, fears, visions and expectation of inevitable in echoes of devastating actions on the surface, as though, all sonically interpretated by the ground. Musical idea and rendition of the figurative opus is carried out as "musique concrète intergrée" by the work with field recordings, electroacoustic and digital techniques through metamorphic musicalization of primarily non-musical elements, typical for the musician, in case of this album as an essential manner. 

1 Indictum
2 Omen
3 Impressiones
4 Exanima
5 Camera delusionis
6 Erebeum
7 Centuria
8 Fuga / Acquiesce
9 Dacryon
10 Amorphes
11 Guttae ultimae
12 Consummatum




Musicians: Vladimír Hirsch - electronic keyboards, synthesizers, samplers, pianos, digital technologies, field recordings, spoken word; Nadya Feir - vocals, Dominika Karčovská - vocals (soprano), production by Tom Saivon. Recorded at CatchArrow Rec ordings studio, Prague, Czechia
CD (© 2017 Old Captain - OCCD33)




úterý 23. ledna 2018

Básně o lásce a vínu (rozhovor pro magazín Full Moon)

Začínal s postpunkem, jeho hudební pouť ale záhy zamířila docela jinam. Už v počátcích 90. let minulého století se jméno Vladimír Hirsch stalo pevnou a významnou součástí naší a potažmo i evropské elektronické hudby. V Praze usazený skladatel a lékař zatím vydal více jak třicet alb, ať již sólových nebo jako člen souborů Der Marabu, Skrol, Aghiatrias a dalších. Je připomínán jako muž, který vynalezl pojem integrovaná hudba, půdorys, na němž plynule a originálně propojuje vlivy industriálu, dark ambientu a klasiky. Hudební a skladatelské rozpětí Vladimíra Hirsche je ale mnohem širší, jak ostatně napoví i následující rozhovor, vzniknuvší nedlouho před vydáním nové desky jednoho z jeho projektů Subpop Squeeze.



Projekt Subpop Squeeze je popisován jako zábavnější tvář vaší produkce. Znamená to, že si sem chodíte odpočinout a pročistit hlavu od hudebně těžších témat?

I tak se to dá říci, současně je to však odraz skutečnosti, že rockové principy jsou mi stále blízké a potřebuji se v nich občas pohybovat, jakkoli se o nich dá nejspíše mluvit jen v širších obrysech tohoto typu mé tvorby. Od roku 1996, kdy jsem projekt zavedl, a to spíše jako studiovou alternativu, jsem mu věnoval pozornost jen velmi okrajově a téměř patnáct let na něj nepomyslel. Až v poslední době – poněkud přesycen standardní koncertní produkcí – jsem se rozhodl ho reanimovat, a to tak, aby ho bylo možné prezentovat živě, měl souvislost s ostatní tvorbou a byl něčím víc než odpočinkovou boční kreací.

Vaše alba často vznikají na základě určitého konceptu či tématu. U novinky nazvané Anacreontics je to stejné, nebo jde o volnou kolekci skladeb?

Volné kolekce skladeb mi nejsou vlastní, album obyčejně považuji svým způsobem za jedinou skladbu, kde její jednotlivé části korespondují nejen způsobem práce, jak je obvyklé, ale též tematicky. Dosti často jde o příběh, celek epického charakteru, ale v tomto konkrétním případě tomu tak není a stmelujícím faktorem jsou ironizující parafráze témat inspirovaných zapomenutým antickým žánrem básní o lásce a vínu.

Už při domlouvání rozhovoru jste zmiňoval důležitou roli producenta Toma Saivona. V čem by deska Anacreontics byla jiná, nebýt jeho přítomnosti?

Tom Saivon se věnuje především dramaturgii a zvuku. Několik skladeb vzniklo na jeho popud s cílem oživit kolekci a dát věci v rámci tématu větší rozmanitost a co nejdynamičtejší průběh. Nejsem přítelem žánrových šuplíků, ale líbí se mi Tomova charakteristika alba coby „electro-industrial-thrash metal synthesis“, kde podíl kytarové složky – jakkoli více či méně zvukově manipulované – lze částečně považovat za výsledek jeho vlivu.

Tom Saivon byl producentem už několika vašich alb, léta s vámi hraje v souboru Skrol. Na jedné straně to přináší výhodu vzájemné důvěry, znáte se, víte, co jeden od druhé čekat. Dokážete se ale zároveň ubránit tomu, aby spolupráci neohrožoval stereotyp?

Naše přístupy nejsou a nikdy nebyly stejné, jakkoli mezi námi panuje důvěra. Názor producenta je proto a priori pohledem z jiného úhlu, čímž mě, který je zcela ponořen do věci, poskytuje odstup, možnost vidět věc zvenčí, objevit a revidovat zmíněné zažité stereotypy a třeba i nabídnout alternativní řešení konkrétní problematiky. V zásadě ke každému novému albu přistupujeme s cílem dosáhnout co nejsilnějšího výsledku v rámci podstaty sdělení. Jakkoli mnohdy na základě ostré konfrontace obyčejně dojdeme k řešení, které jsme oba schopni přijmout za své, aniž bychom ho museli považovat za mechanický kompromis. To je právě věc, které si na této spolupráci cením nejvíce.

Máte za sebou desítky let komponování a nahrávání a roli producenta nezpochybňujete, na druhou stranu část vaší produkce se obejde i bez něj. Co je klíčem k rozhodnutí, kdy je přítomnost producenta žádoucí a kdy nikoli?

Producent bývá často jakýmsi médiem komerční úspěšnosti desky, což u nás v úvahu nepřipadá. Obejdu se bez něj v té části tvorby, která se pohybuje v užší sféře soudobé klasické hudby. Čím více produkt směřuje k integrované, eventuálně výrazněji elektronické, industriální či podobné zvukové charakteristice, je producentova role významnější. Je to dáno jeho zaměřením, postupy klasické hudby mu nejsou blízké. To ovšem neznamená, že by se orientoval jen na uvedené formy, jde nám o celkově homogenní a přesvědčivou podobu výsledného tvaru, a tomu je vše podřízeno.

Se Subpop Squeeze jste v posledních měsících několikrát vystoupil i živě. Budete v tom pokračovat? 

Jako Subpop Squeeze vystupuji od prosince 2014, a jak vznikalo nové album, měnil jsem postupně i příslušný koncertní program výměnou starších skladeb za nové. V současné době bych rád živě představil jeho finální podobu, přičemž plánujeme vystoupení v Polsku a Německu a možná i v dalších evropských zemích, která jsou v jednání.

Mezi kultovní soubory, které jste založil, patří také Skrol. Jak vypadá jeho současnost či možná budoucnost?

Soubor Skrol sice oficiálně svou existenci neukončil, ale je dlouhodobě nečinný. Naposledy jsme vystupovali v letech 2011 a 2012, z čehož vzniklo živé minialbum. Máme sice dostatek materiálu, na kterém by se dalo pracovat, ale časová tíseň spolu s dalšími ryze praktickými důvody nám momentálně brání v konkrétních plánech, i když na koncertní produkci rozhodně nerezignujeme.

Ve Skrol hraje důležitou roli zpěv Martiny Sanollové, vokál přidáváte i vy sám, přitom velká část vaší další produkce je instrumentální...

I v mé sólové produkci, kde instrumentální složka hraje nejvýznamnější roli, není výjimkou užití vokálů, právě naopak. Někdy však měním pomocí technologií jejich zvukové vlastnosti natolik, že nejsou odečteny primárně jako vokální party. Nicméně má spolupráce s řadou vokalistů (či spíše vokalistek) význam úlohy lidského hlasu v hudbě potvrzuje. Užívám v mnoha případech i mluvené slovo, jak tomu je též na novém albu Subpop Squeeze. Řeč jako takovou považuji za hudební projev, její rytmika, tonalita a barva jsou pro mne svébytným prvkem a příspěvkem hudebního sdělení.

A jsou zpěvy a vokály při vzniku skladeb pro Skrol dominantní, nebo mají doprovázet a doplňovat instrumentální složku?

Všechny skladby Skrol vznikly na základě původní instrumentální báze, která v mnoha případech funguje i jako samostatná jednotka, některá alba mají své plně instrumentálními alternativy. Vokální složka Skrol tedy prakticky vždy následovala nástrojovou, ale nikoli s cílem ji pouze doprovázet. I když některé skladby Skrol nejsou opatřeny vokálním partem, v případě ostatních nemůže být pochyb o tom, že Martinin sytý, výrazně expresivní a emočně vypjatý projev nehraje pouze doplňující úlohu. Naopak, tyto skladby tvoří jakési jádro a nejpodstatnější části desky. Vždy se jedná o rozvinutí tématu, mnohdy vokální part přebírá částečně dominantní roli – nicméně cílem byla vždy komplexně kompaktní věc, bez ohledu na to, jakou úlohu ten či onen jednotlivý prvek hraje.

TECHNIKA MANIPULUJE

V přípravě je také vaše sólové album Scripta Soli. Jak jste daleko? 

Na aůbu "Scripta Soli" pracuji průběžně již dlouho. Jedná se o titul poměrně rozsáhlý, založený na práci s terénními nahrávkami, získávanými v průběhu několika let. Podstatou projektu je transformace, respektive muzikalizace původně zdánlivě nehudebního tvaru. Mělo by to být výrazně ambientní album, zcela jistě nejtišší z mých produktů, ale zdá se být také nejpracnějším. Vzhledem k tomu, že vyžaduje naprosto specifický typ práce i koncentrace, čekám na chvíli, kdy mi čas dovolí plně se mu věnovat. V současné době je zpracovaná asi polovina materiálu.

Hudebně zpracováváte vážná témata, důležitou roli hrají emoce, různé stránky lidského konání, historie a bytí, i náboženství. Elektronika i další nástroje mají ale i své zvukové hranice. Narážíte často na to, že musíte přistoupit ke kompromisu mezi představou, jak mají dané emoce či pocity v kompozici znít, a tím, jaké jsou dané technické možnosti?

Práce se zvukem je podstatou vertikálního členění skladby a skýtá nepřeberné množství řešení. Je ovšem třeba zdůraznit, že ani ty nejdokonalejší technické možnosti neposkytnou hudebníkovi komfort, vše je, respektive musí být, vedeno jím. Technologie je dobrý sluha, ale špatný pán. Buď jste to vy, kdo vládne, nebo jste sám manipulován. V tom případně sklapne dokonalá past. Stává se, že se mi nepodaří uskutečnit svou představu, ale vidím to jako vlastní nedokonalost, nikoli jako technický problém daný limitací nástrojových a přístrojových zdrojů zvuku. Nejsem jimi omezen, zdrojem či inspirací mohou být teoreticky jakékoli sluchové vjemy, jež nás obklopují.

Hudebník může zabřednout až do mikroskopicky důsledné práce na jediném zvuku či momentu – kdy poznáte, že toto je ideální a konečný stav a je možné pokračovat dál?

Preferuji komplexitu. Zvuková charakteristika, jakkoli pro mne podstatná a významná, není jediným atributem skladby. Vždy to chápu jako vztah detailu a celku. Najdu-li kompatibilitu, souzvuk a výpovědní autenticitu, mohu pokračovat dál.

Předpokládám, že jste nejen hudebník a skladatel, ale také posluchač. Co poslední dobou v hudbě nejvíce potěšilo Vladimíra Hirsche?

V poslední době mne hodně potěšilo, že byl konečně nahrán komplet všech symfonií mého oblíbeného skladatele Miloslava Kabeláče. Nejsem sice úplně nadšen ze některých provedení, ale byla tím zaplněna ostudná mezera v diskografii české moderní klasické hudby a jejích významných představitelů.

ROZHOVOR VLADIMÍR HIRSCH
TEXT RICHARD KUTĚJ
duben 2017

Vladimír Hirsch




neděle 21. ledna 2018

A brief history of Czech music


Czech music - throughout more than one thousand years old history - can be considered beneficial in both European and worldwide context, several times co-determined or determined a newly arriving era in musical art, above all in music of Classical era, as well as by original attitudes in Baroque, Romantic and modern classical music.



Early music

The musical tradition of Czechia arose from first church hymns, whose first evidence is suggested at the break of 10th and 11th century. The first significant pieces of Czech music include two chorales, which in their time performed the function of anthems: “Hospodine pomiluj ny” (Lord, Have Mercy on Us) from around 1050 (the authorship is sometimes ascribed to Svatý Vojtěch (St.Adalbert of Prague), bishop of Prague snd missionaire, living between 956 and 997), unmistakably the oldest and most faithfully preserved popular spiritual song to have survived to the present, and the hymn "Saint Wenceslas" ("Svatý Václave") from around 1250. Its roots can be found in the 12th century and it still belongs to the most popular religious songs to this day. In 1918, the song was discussed as one of the possible choices for the national anthem.

First documented personalities and records appear in Czechia in the 14th century, following the founding of a department of musicology operated from the very start of the Charles University in Prague in 1348, e.g. the composer of liturgical songs Záviš of Zápy or hymnographer Domoslav. They are several records of Czech love songs from the 14th century of courtly type "Dřěvo se listem odievá" (Trees Are Putting on Leaves) or "Jižť mne všě radost ostává" (All My Joy is Waning). As an example of the record of medieval notation can serve Gradual of Arnošt of Pardubice from 1363. Important insight into the beginnings of Czech music brings Jistebnice hymn book from 1430, which contains representative collection of liturgical, martial and spiritual songs, created until that time, including Christmas carols. The Czech carol "Di est leticie" was  known in the Middle Ages all over Europe, another one with the origin in the beginning of 15th century, "Virgo partit filium" (Narodil se Kristus Pán) is regularly sung even today. In the book, we can find also famous Hussite battle hymn "Ktož jsú boží bojovníci" (Ye Who Are Warriors of God).



Baroque and Renaissance

The most important composers and musicians of Czech renaissance - predominantly of various forms of sacred music - were Jiří Rychnovský, using advanced renaissance vocal polyphony, Šimon Bar Madelka, Ondřej Chrysoponus Jevíčský, Jan Trojan Turnovský, remarkable for his well-handled polyphony technique and careful work with words in relation to music, Jan Simonides Montanus, Pavel Spongopaeus Jistebnický, Kryštof Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice, combining his music with oldier compositional techniques, and Jan Blahoslav, music theorist emphasizing the need for the musical rhythm to correspond with the chronometric system of prosody of the verses.

To the most notable Czech composers in Baroque era - and also in general - belongs Adam Michna (all name Adam Václav Michna, Chevalier from Otradovice) working  in early Baroque, also organist, choir leader and poet who initiated the development of Czech music and became a significant inspiration for Czech artists of future generations. His works content pieces, which cannot deny Renaissance echoes. His music acts with remarkable vivacity, comprising both humour and tragic of daily life. About 230 of his compositions from three Czech and two Latin collections are known today. Best known are his 3 hymn cycles, Česká mariánská muzika, Loutna česká and Svatoroční muzika. His poetry remains very vivid with intense influence of senses.

The most important Czech figure of the Baroque Period was the composer Jan Dismas Zelenka, the personality of outstanding innovative spirit, next eras anticipating harmonic invention and mastery of counterpoint. He is called "catholic counterpart" of Johann Sebastian Bach, who studied Zelenka's works and was influenced by him. From Zelenka's opuses belong to most the important an extensive collection of sacred music (masses - above all his last six, called "Missae Ultimae", oratoria and cantatas). From other works are notable his concertos and sonatas. The works of Zelenka remained unknown for a very long time, because they were in the possession of the Saxon king. In 19th century, Bedřich Smetana copied some of them, but the real appreciation of the composer and his opuses started only in the 1960s with the boom from the turn of the 20th and the 21st centuries. Gradually, many of his compositions have been performed and recorded in world premieres, above all by new Czech, German and Swiss ensembles and soloists, using original instruments and vocal techniques of Baroque period with a great success.

To the other prominent Czech Baroque personalities belong trumpet virtuoso and composer of sonatas and other technically brilliant pieces with main role of brass and wind instruments, Pavel Josef Vejvanovský, the most important in hymnal tradition of Czechia, composer and organist of Middle Baroque Václav Karel Holan Rovenský, whose magnum opus, "Cappella Regia Musicalis" from 1693, massive collection of hymns and sacred songs (772 pieces) of the Roman-Catholic liturgy in the Czech language was continually reprinted throughout the ensuing centuries and has been the basis for many Czech hymnals and mainly, a representative of the late baroque style, composer and organist Bohuslav Matěj Černohorský, deeply influencing the musical evolution in Czechia not only as a composer, but also as a teacher. His fugue "Laudeatur Jesus Christus" is cited by the Baroque Music Library as an excellent example of its kind, He composed fugues and toccatas for organ, as well as vocal works. In Czechia born Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, very beneficial composer for the violin in the history of the instrument cannot be forgotten.

Composer, stylistically of the late Baroque, but important also for the development of early classicism was František Ignác Antonín Tůma. His sacred works, which were known to Haydn and Mozart, were noted by his contemporaries for their solidity of texture and their chromaticism. Among them we find some 65 masses, 29 psalms and five settings of Stabat Mater. He composed also instrumental music, predominantly trio and quartet sonatas, sinfonias and partitas with preferred role of string instruments.



Classical and Romantic era

Czech composers significantly contributed to the birth and development of Classicism in music. The style developed already deep in Baroque era from sources, created by local musicians thanks to exceptional activity of musical life at that time (the English music historian and traveller Charles Burney called Czechia “European conservatory”).

Among all Czech contributive musical personalities excelled symphonist and one of founders of classicist composition Jan Václav Antonín Stamic (generally known by germanized name Johann Stamitz), the father of famous Mannheim school, substantially innovating structure of symphonic works and sonata form. His main innovation is the four-movement structure of symphony. He was the first composer to use it consistently - more than  half of his 58 symphonies and nine of his ten orchestral trios are in four movements. He also contributed to the development of sonata form, most often used in symphonic first movements but occasionally in finales and even slow movements as well.

To other Czech composers who significantly contributed to the development of classical music belong Jiří Antonín Benda in bringing the musical form of melodrama to life, the author of over 70 symphonies and almost 100 sacred works Jan Křtitel Vaňhal (generally known as Johann Baptist Vanhal), being considered highly influential to Mozart, making use of many features, which appeared later in large scale of famous composer's works, being also substantially discoverable in symphonies, prefiguring Beethoven's works.

Josef Mysliveček, a pioneer in the composition of music for wind ensemble and the master of compositional models in the genres of symphony, Italian opera, and violin concerto, called "Il Divino Boemo" (A Divine Czech) or Antonín Rejcha, whose work directed from classicism to romanticism, but his innovative methods of composition, which he applied in a variety of works, leaving their mark on the works of Beethoven and Schubert, and techniques such as bitonality and polyrhythm, derived often from folk music, directly anticipates that of modern composers far in advance.

Also Jan Ladislav Dussek (baptized Václav Jan Dusík) is considered a predecessor of the Romantic composers for piano, especially Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn. He composed large scale of piano sonatas and concertos, and also the highly unusual chamber sonata with percussion, an extremely rare example of pre-20th-century chamber music that includes percussion.

Romantic era in works of Czech composers started also with Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek by melodically inventive early Romantic idioms in his music, e.g. "impromptu", which term was used for the first time in relation to his piano pieces and subsequently used by Schubert, Chopin and numerous other composers.



In later Romanticism begun the period, which brought Czech music an international fame. It was practically initiated by Bedřich Smetana, the pioneer of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is considered the founder of the Czech national school of music and the truly Czech nationalist composer. To his major works belong symphonic poem "Má Vlast" (My Country), operas with dominating themes from Czech legends, history and traditions, above all "Libuše" and "Prodaná nevěsta" (Bartered Bride) and an extensive collection of solo piano works, including many folk dances, especially polkas. Smetana had been a virtuoso performer on the piano, and those compositions, augmented by the more mature piano pieces of his difficult last years, constitute an important body of piano literature.

The most famous Czech composer and one of the leading world composers of all time was Antonín Dvořák. Dvořák’s own compositional style, usually denoted as Classical-Romantic synthesis, is considered the fullest recreation of a national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them. Dvořák was also substantially influential for the growth of American classical music (being the director of Conservatory in New York between 1892-5), where he composed the most famous work "Symphony No.9 From The New World", in which he also showed the way how to work with genuine American music in classical rank. This symphony belongs among the most favourite compositions of this kind in the world. Neil Armstrong took a recording of the New World Symphony to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the first Moon landing, in 1969, and left it there as some  representative  document  of  the  culture  of  human
civilization. To Dvořák’s most important works belong also Symphonies No.7 & 8, funeral mass "Requiem", considered to be one of the best compositions of that kind ever, oratorial work "Stabat Mater", a spiritual hymn "Te Deum", "Concerto for violoncello", two collections of "Slavonic Dances", string quartets and "Rusalka", the most famous operatic work.

Other famous late romantic composers were Zdeněk Fibich, the author of symphonic poems and scenic melodramas, and in Czechia born symphonist and one of leading conductors of his generation Gustav Mahler. Also some of leading composers of Czech Modernism, Josef Suk, Vítězslav Novák (both pupils of Antonín Dvořák) and Leoš Janáček, had their roots or beginnings in Romantic era.

The period between second half of 19th century and first half of 20th century, can be considered the golden age of Czech music, represented mainly by so-called "The Great Four" of personalities of already mentioned Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák also modernists Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů, but with inconsiderable role of several other, lesser known, but for the development of modern and contemporary music important composers.



Modern era

Leoš Janáček, composer of an original, inimitable modern musical style, inspired by Czech (above all of Moravian and Silesian region of Czechia) and other Slavic folk music and musical characteristics of folk speech, which is a major sign of his rendition of opera singing. He presented a previously unheard world of music, sometimes even almost from otherworldly spheres, which major example is his "Glagolitic Mass". Janáček's music employs a vastly expanded view of tonality, using unorthodox chord spacings, structures, and modality. To his other distinctive works belong "Sinfonietta", operas "Káťa Kabanová", "Jenufa"  and "The Cunning Little Vixen",  rhapsody "Taras Bulba", string quartets, and other chamber works.

Josef Suk was influenced first by Late romanticism, but in later pieces he uses more extended harmonies to create a personal and complex style, based on chromatic polyphony with a direction towards the freedom of atonal music. This concentration on dissonance created music which always showed a tension due to the absence of any musical relaxation. To his best works belong the symphony "Asrael", written in response to the deaths of his wife and Dvořák, "Fairy Tale Suite", the cycle of piano works "Things Lived and Dreamed", and the trilogy of symphonic poems A Summer's Tale", "The Ripening" and "Epilog". Suk won a silver medal at the Art competitions at the Olympic Games 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with his work "Into a New Life".

Bohuslav Martinů, a prolific modern symphonist and opera composer, moving in many distinctive directions with neoclassicism, expressionism and jazz music in veins. He usually belongs to the so-called "Great Four" (as they are sometimes called altogether with Dvořák, Smetana, and Janáček). Martinů created over 400 musical work during his life, from which 6 symphonies, "Concerto for violoncello and orchestra", "Field Mass", "Gilgamesh" oratorial work, the extensive collection of piano concertos and chamber music have to be mentioned. From operatic works  stand out "Juliette", "Plays about Mary" & "The Greek Passion".



In the first half of 20th century started his career the discoverer and one of major world composers of microtonal music, Alois Hába. To the most important personalities in high modern era belong original keys creator and symphonist Miloslav Kabeláč and a composer of modern sacred works (above all for organ) Petr Eben.


Musical events in Czechia

Already in 13th century, Czech King Wenceslas II organised the first major musical event in the country, that was to draw the attention of all of Europe. He held a musical competition in Prague, inviting the most famous European musicians and the king also took part personally, as a minstrel. The most famous music festival in the country of today is Prague Spring International Music Festival of classical music, founded 1946, a permanent showcase for outstanding performing artists, symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles of the world.



The wealth of musical culture in Czechia lies in the long-term high-culture classical music tradition during all historical periods, especially in the Baroque, Classicism, Romantic, modern classical music and in the traditional folk music of particular Czech lands. Since the early eras of artificial music, Czech musicians and composers have often been influenced by genuine folk music, which is can be recognized already in records of Czech music since 14th - 15th century, and dances.


Vladimír Hirsch (2014)
published in Czechia - the Heart of Europe