Válek, Jiří, notable Czech composer, writer, and teacher; b. Prague, May 28,1923. He was a composition student of fodky at the Prague Cons., graduating from its master school in 1947. He also received private training in philosophy, aesthetics, music history, and theory. After graduating from the Prague Coll. of Higher Education in 1950, he took his Ph.D. at the Charles Univ. in Prague in 1952. From 1949 to 1952 he held the position of creative secretary of the Union of Czech Composers. He was a senior staff member of the state publishing firm Panton from 1959 to 1973. In 1966 he became a prof, at the Prague Cons. He was also artistic director of the state recording firm Supraphon (1974-79) and an assoc. prof, of composition at the Prague Academy of Musical Arts (from 1979). Among his writings are literary works and monographs. In his 17 syms., Válek has traversed an extensive ideological and artistic landscape, embracing both historical and contemporary events. Several of his stage pieces are rich in topical and satirical expression.
dramatic: Shakespearean Variations,music drama for 9 Actors, Commentator, and Nonet (1967); Hour of Truth,opera (1980); Sonata on Auxiliary Lifefor Moderator, Violin, Piano, and Percussion (1983); Hamlet, our Contemporary,satirical opera (1985); Don’t let us stone pygmies,satirical opera (1991). ORCH.: Sinfonietta (1945); 17 syms.: No. 1, Year 1948,for Trumpet, Piano, and Orch. (1948), No. 2, Classical,for Chamber Orch. (1957; also for 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, and Chamber String Orch.), No. 3, Romantic,for Soprano, Tenor Saxophone, and Orch. (1957-63), No. 4, Dialogues with an Inner Voice,for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Wind Orch., Piano, and Percussion, after Shakespeare (1964-65), No. 5, Guernica,after the Picasso painting (1968), No. 6, Ekpyrosis,for Flute, Piano, Percussion Ensemble, and Chamber Orch. (1969), No. 7, Pompeian Frescoes,for Chamber Orch., Piano, and Percussion Ensemble (1970), No. 8, Hie sunt homines,for Soprano and Orch., after a novella by Stefan Zweig (1971), No. 9, Renaissance,sym.- triple concerto for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Orch. (1971), No. 10, Baroque,for Violin, Piano, and Orch. (1973), No. 11, Revolutionary,for Violin, Viola, Piano, Wind Quintet, and Orch. (1974), No. 12, Shakespearean,sym.-concerto for Violin, Viola, and Orch. (1975; also for Violin, Viola, String Orch., Piano, and Percussion), No. 13, Gothic,for Chorus and Orch., to commemorate the 600thanniversary of the death of the Czech King Charles IV (1978), No. 14, Trionfale,for 2 Pianos and Orch. (1983), No. 14, Sarcastic,sym.-oratorio for Baritone, Bass, Women’s Chorus, and Orch., after Karel Borovsky (1986), No. 16, Neter,for Bass-baritone and Orch. (1987), and No. 17, Station ofHradöany,sym.-opera for Soprano, Mezzos-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass-baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1992); The Dam,symphonic poem (1959); 3 Nocturnesfor Viola and Chamber String Orch. (1960); Beyond the Bounds of Tomorrow,ceremonial march (1972); Concerto drammaticofor Double Bass, Chamber Orch., and Percussion (1974); Violin Concerto, Hymn of the Sun (1975); Concerto for 2 Flutes and Chamber Orch. (1975); Marimba Concerto, Festivo (1975); Ceremonial Overture (1976); Piano Concerto, Eroico (1977); Viola Concerto, Lirico (1977); Concerto for Flute, Marimba, Harp, and Orch., Giocoso (1978); Ceremonial fresco (1979); Cathedralfor Viola and Chamber String Orch. (1979); Cello Concerto, Maestoso (1981); Concerto burlescofor Horn and Chamber Orch. (1986). CHAMBER: 4 string quartets (1943; 1945; 1960; Quattrocento,1972-73); 2 violin sonatas (1944,1960); Suite for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano (1946); 2 viola sonatas (1948; Tragic,1961); Concertino for 9 Winds and Piano (1960); Trumpet Sonata, Eroica (1960; also for Clarinet and Piano or String Orch.); Concerto notturnofor Violin, Viola, and Cello (1967); Suite drammaticafor Double Bass and Piano (1967); Flute Sonata (1969); 2 concertos for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Harpsichord (1970; Discovering the Day,1979); Villa dei Misterifor Violin and Piano (1971); 3 Sentences in Memory of A. Einsteinfor Violin, Cello, and Piano (1973); Cinque canzoni da sonarfor Oboe, Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1974); Revolutionary Quartetfor Violin, Viola, Clarinet, and Piano (1974); 5 Meditations on Themes from Czech Folk Songsfor Bass Clarinet and Piano (1974); Tre sorrisi in onore W.A. Mozartfor Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Harpsichord (1975); Fireworks and Fountainsfor Marimba and Piano (1976); 4 Sculpturesfor Renaissance Instruments (1977); Wind Quintet, Gaiaemente e degnamente (1977); Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1978); Cloudsfor Violin and Piano (1979); Dramasfor Cello and Guitar (1979); 4 Profiles after Shakespearefor Oboe and Bassoon (1979); Rectangular Circle,grotesque for 5 Flutes (1979); Concertant meditationfor Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1980); Dramatic Frescofor Viola (1980); 5 capricci concertifor Flute, Guitar, and Marimbaphone (1981); Burlesquefor Flute and Piano (1986); To be or not to befor 8 Winds and 3 Timpani (1990). P i a n o : 3 sonatas (The Year 1942,1942; 1965; 1970); To have or to be,concerto drammatico “in memory of Alexander Dubcek” (1993). VOCAL: The Glory ofNamesless People,cantata for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Piano (1958); 7 Monologues About Lovefor Soprano and Piano (1959); 5 Variations on the Theme VERITASfor Soprano and Piano (1970-76; also for Soprano, Men’s Chorus, Wind Quintet, and Percussion, or Soprano, Men’s Chorus, and Chamber Orch.); La partenza della primaverafor Soprano and Orch. (1971; also for Soprano and Piano); 7 Musical Fablesfor Low Voice and Piano (1972; also for Children’s Chorus, Reciter, Children’s Games, Flute, 2 Clarinets, Bassoon, and Percussion); Life,5 sonnets for Men’s Chorus (1975); Sonatine of the Universefor Children’s Chorus, Vibraphone, and Piano (1976); Virelais festivo in onore G. de Machaut et imperatore Bohemiae Carolus IVfor Soprano and Gothic Instruments (1978); 5 Shadows and Epiloguefor Bass Baritone, Piano, and Percussion (1978); Song of Praisefor Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and Piano (1981); Satirikonfor 1 or 2 Low Voices and Piano (1989); The Young Gypsy Played,song cycle for Woman’s Voice, Man’s Voice, and Instrumental Ensemble (1998).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
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