Novák, Jan

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Novák, Jan

Novák, Jan, Czech composer; b. Nová Ŕiše na Morave, April 8, 1921; d. Ulm, Germany, Nov. 17, 1984. He studied composition with Petrželka at the Brno Cons. (1940–46; interrupted by the Nazi occupation) and BoŔkovec at the Prague Academy of Musical Arts (1946–47), then with Copland at the Berkshire Music Center at Tangle wood (summer, 1947) and Martinû in N.Y. (1947–48). He subsequently made his home in Brno; being outside his homeland at the time of the Soviet invasion (1968), he chose not to return, and went to Denmark before settling in Rovereto, Italy (1970), where he taught piano at the municipal music school. Predictably, his works ceased to be performed in his native land until the Communist regime collapsed in 1989. His early music is influenced by Martinû; with the Concertino for Wind Quintet (1957) and the Capriccio for Cello and Orch. (1958), he adopted jazz elements; beginning in 1958 he applied dodecaphonic techniques, and after 1960 his interest in all things Latin and vocal almost completely dominates his output.


dramatic:Svatebni Košile (The Specter’s Bride), ballet-ballad (1954; Plzeň, 1955); Komedie o umučenie a slavném vzkŔíšení Pána a spasitele našeho Ježíše Krista (Play of the Passion and Glorious Resurrection of the Lord Our Savior Jesus Christ; Brno, 1965); Dulcitius, lyric drama (1977); Aesopia, fable-cantata with introit and exit (1981; version for 2 Pianos and Orch. as Aesopia minora). orch.: Oboe Concerto (1953); Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch. (1954); Capriccio for Cello and Orch. (1958); Variations on a Theme of Martinû (1959; orchestration of a 1949 piece for 2 Pianos); Musica Caesariana for Wind Orch. (1960); Concentus Eurydicae for Guitar and Strings (1971); Odarum contentus, 5 Meditations for Strings (1973); Concentus biiugis for Piano, 4-Hands, and Small Orch. (1976); Ludi sympho-niaci I (1978); Choreae vernales for Flute, Harp, Celesta or Piano, and Small Orch. (1980); Ludi concentantes for 18 Instruments (1981); Symphonia bipartita (1983). chamber:loci pastorales for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon (1974); Rosarium, 9 divertimenti for 2 Guitars (1975); Quadricinium fidium I for String Quartet (1978); Sonata solis fidibus for Solo Violin (1980); Sonata da chiesa 1 for Violin and Organ and II for Flute and Organ (both 1981); Sonata rustica for Accordion and Piano (1982); Aeolia for 2 Flutes and Piano (1983); piano pieces, including Variations on a Theme of Martinû for 2 Pianos (1949; orchestrated 1959); harpsichord and organ works. vocal:Písen Závisova (Songs of Zavis) for Tenor and Orch. (1957); Passer Catulli for Bass and 9 Instruments (1961); loci vernales for Bass, 8 Instruments, and Bird Songs on Tape (1964); Testamen-tum for Chorus and 4 Horns (1966); Dido, oratorio (1967); Ignis pro Ioanne Palach, cantata (1968; Prague, April 15, 1969); Planctus Troadum, chamber cantata for Contralto, Women’s Chorus, 8 Cellos, 2 Double Basses, and 2 Percussionists (1969); Vernalis temporis symphonia for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1982); songs and choruses.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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