• 1/2011: Slovak Music: Institutions and Personalities

    1/2011: Slovak Music: Institutions and Personalities


    ČIERNA, Alena: Preface
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 3 – 4


    ČIERNA, Alena: A Contribution to the History of Electroacoustic Music in Slovakia
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 5 – 29

    Infl uenced by historical and social factors and both European and domestic development of music the electroacoustic music (EAM) in Slovakia started to grow during the early 1960s. At the beginning it was related to experimental endeavours of the younger composers’ generation represented by Ilja Zeljenka, Roman Berger, Ladislav Kupkovič, Peter Kolman, Jozef Malovec, Ivan Parík and others, without the ambitions to become part of recovering avant-garde eff orts. As an “experiment” it was at fi rst only “tolerated” (later also persecuted) and pushed to the edge of the offi cial music culture. In the time when in Paris, Köln, Tokyo and Warsaw people worked in technically well equipped electroacoustic studios, in Slovakia we encountered the fi rst primitive experiments with audio technique mainly on the private basis.

    The fi rst impetus for the transformation from a passing intoxication by sound to an avant-garde artistic creation off ered fi lm production and the establishment of the Audio Department of the Czechoslovak Television (1961). In 1964 the second experimental department was formed in Slovakia – Special Eff ects of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava, which had at its disposal an accessible technical equipment of the period from the manufacture of the Developing Department of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava. The interest aroused among literary as well as music departments of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava has led to a gradual enlargement of the department and to the improvement of the technical equipment of the studio. In May 1965 music composer Peter Kolman was nominated the programme director of the studio (the executive staff was formed by sound engineers Ing. Peter Janík and Ján Backstuber) and in June the department was officially proclaimed the electroacoustic studio – Experimental Studio of the Czechoslovak Radio (EXS).

    Since its beginnings a universal character of the EXS activities has been profi led: the production of original electroacoustic compositions; the production of concrete sounds, audio eff ects and jingles for radio dramas; arrangement of spoken words; electroacoustic incidental music to radio dramas. In the development of the EXS (later Electroacoustic Studio, 1977–1990) we may observe several stages resulting from the restructuralization of its technological basis: the gradual change to stereo (1968/1969), gradual digitalization of all production stages – from recording, arrangements, cutting to a fi nal mix and reproduction (second half of the 1980s).

    In spite of a sound technological basis after 1997 the space for the creation of EAM was becoming more and more limited. On the one hand it was caused by the existing economic situation and a system of fi nancing, on the other hand it occurred due to the mass spreading of computer technologies. In the period 2001 to 2003 the EXS went through the fi nal principal rebuilding of its technological basis, however, neither the reinforcement of its statutory position (2002) has shielded the EXS from the intervention into its independency and exclusivity of its position in the organizational structure of the Slovak Radio. Since August 1, 2006 the EXS has been included into the Centre for Sound Creation and the term Experimental Studio has disappeared from the organizational structure of the SR. It has resulted in the gradual reduction of the production of original electroacoustic compositions. Despite the relocation of the creative human capacity in the present-day Radio and Television of Slovakia the activity of the EXS has not ceased. Presently due to the collaboration with the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (the contract from 2011) the accent of its creation has shifted to the cooperation in the artistic creation, to the realm of scientifi c and research activities (revitalization of music mono recordings and sound tracks of older movies) and to the fi eld of education. The activity of EXS is thus again joined with the film production similarly to the beginnings of the electroacoustic music genre in Slovakia.

    BREZINA, Pavol: The Conditions for the Origin of Stereo Sound System in the World and in Slovakia
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 30 – 47

    Stereophonic sound recording has gone through a number of changes either in the realm of its technical realization or in music-sound perception. The fi rst attempts in technical realization and demonstration of a two-channel sound recording were carried out by Clément Ader in 1881 at The International Exhibition and Congress of Electricity in Paris. Almost 50 years had to pass before the successful recording and reproduction of stereophonic sound was realized. Two signifi cant scientists claim the merit for it – Arthur Keller from Bell Laboratories in 1932 and Alan Blumlein from Columbia Graphophone Company in 1933. Remarkably, they both accomplished the invention approximately at the same time independently from each other. The stereophonic sound recording demanded not only the technical realization but also a new plan for placement of  the microphones, what encouraged the invention of new microphone techniques; in the Bell Labs they dealt with the special placement of microphones (AB technique) while Alan Blumlein worked with coincidence microphone technology (Blumlein’s stereo pair, XY technique). By the way of modifi cation of these two approaches to the microphone placement other techniques of stereophonic sound recording developed later (M/S, Decca tree, O.R.T.F., N.O.S. etc.).

    In Slovakia the origins of stereo sound system are joined with the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava and its department – Experimental Studio. The Experimental Studio realized the fi rst attempt in the creation of the stereo sound recording at the end of 1966, when its sound engineer Peter Janík produced a stereo version of an autonomous electroacoustic composition Orthogenesis by Jozef Malovec. As this piece had been created and recorded in mono format, the original sound recording had to be reworked. Other departments of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava dealt with the idea to make a stereo recording. On the basis of a research in the phonoarchive of the Slovak Radio in Bratislava the fi rst stereo recording realized by the Department of Classical Music in 1967 has been found (the piece for a mixed choir Čože ma je po ňom…). Vladimír Marko co-operated in the technical realization. The Department for Entertaining Music accomplished the fi rst stereo recording in 1968 (Pavol Zelenay), the piece titled Starý známy performed by Dance Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava, again Vladimír Marko co-operated technically.

    KILIÇ, Lenka: Sofia Gubaidulina “Art as a Manifest of Intuition and Belief”
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 48 – 68

    “The whole world is threatened by spiritual passivity, an entropy of the soul, a transition from more complex energy to a simpler form… amorphousness. What puts the brakes on that process is the human spirit and in part, art and that is a matter for serious music.”

    Sofia Gubaidulina

    The music society will commemorate and celebrate Sofia Gubaidulina’s eightieth birthday this autumn.

    Sofia Azgatovna Gubaidulina was born on October 24, 1931 in Chistopol near Volga. She studied piano playing and composition at the Kazan Conservatory. In 1954 she changed for the Moscow Conservatory and became a student of Nikolay Peyko, Shostakovich’s student, and Vissarion Shebalin. At first she presented herself to the Moscow cultural society as a composer and piano performer of her own pieces, occasionally she collaborated on film music. This experience enabled her to experiment and equipped her with considerable skills. After one year in the Moscow experimental studio for electronic music she founded an improvisation group Astreja (together with Vyacheslav Artyomov and Viktor Suslin) at the beginning of the 1970s, exploring new technical and audio possibilities of traditional folk and ritual instruments from Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia.

    The performance of her first violin concerto Off ertorium by Gidon Kremer in 1981 in Vienna stood for a break to the West, in spite of obstacles from the conservative Composers’ Union. Together with Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov and Valentin Silvestrov she has represented the Soviet faction of New Music, characterized by a synthesis of New Music, early music from the era of several centuries ago and Russian folklore. In 1993 the composer decided to move to a small village near Hamburg for good.

    Sofia Gubaidulina has dedicated all her life to composing and music. She hasn’t been teaching, she hasn’t been conducting, she hasn’t been giving lectures, concentrating fully “only” on her creation.

    Regarding her choice of topics she has approached mostly religious themes. She does not avoid modern poetry (Tsvetaeva, Elliot) or ancient poets (ancient Egyptian verses, work by Omar Khayyám). Her goal is to combine sense and sensibility into something new, a spiritual whole. She utilizes Latin, Italian, German as well as Russian lyrics. Contrast is a structural element frequently used in many of her works. She resembles Anton Webern in impeccability of form and concentration of utterance. She searches for depth and mysticism of sound, she carefully builds and considers the architecture of a music form. She uses a wide range of  rhythmical systems, articulation structures (e.g. variable usage of bows at strings, or usage of inhalation and expiration at bayan) and non-usual acoustic possibilities. She comprehends the rests equally important to particular note durations, similarly to the contrast between silence and sound. According to her the rhythm is the basic creative principle today, a structural element. Besides the original 12-note material Sofia Gubaidulina uses the quarter tones and other micro-intervals, often both layers juxtaposing and thus  stressing their divergence. All this is always justified; there is a symbol, utterance, philosophical or religious implicit meaning hidden behind. Chromatic system – a symbol of darkness, diatonic system – a symbol of light, the divinity. The composer denies traditional tonal centres and triads in favour of clusters and intervals resulting from interactivity between melodical lines. The maximal possible utilization of instruments reveals her activities in improvisation group Astreja, experience with electronic music as well as cooperation with performers during the process of composition. She confirms that it is still possible to find something new in the realm of acoustic instruments.

    Thanks to the work of Sofia Gubaidulina the listeners return to their human origins, to truth and spirituality. And we need it in the present world more than anything else.

    BEZDĚK, Jiří: Composition as a Major Subject at Czech Conservatories and its Inclusion into State and Private System of Music Education in the Czech Republic
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 69 – 76

    The widest compositional basis in Bohemia is represented by the conservatories in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Teplice and Plzeň. The best students have an opportunity to continue their studies at academies in Prague, Brno as well as abroad. Considering their compositional methods the youngest Czech compositional generation is globalized; its continuity with genuinly Czech national music characteristics is not clearly verifi able in their creation. In spite of this a certain relationship to preceding generations of Czech composers has been maintained – a continuing interest in emotional aspects of music utterance and its expressive value.

    The composers Eduard Douša, Jiří Gemrot, Otomar Kvěch and Pavel Trojan teach at Prague Conservatory. Among the promising students from the recent years we may fi nd e.g. Marios Christou, who in his choral cycle Missa canonica exploits unusual harmonic progression of a modal character. He is attractive not only by details but also by the structural (tectonic) arrangement of the whole unit (A Prayer for solo clarinet). In his pieces Jiří Lukeš uses Arabian vocalizations (A Woman of Sand) and extraordinary instrumental combinations (Preludes for guitar and accordion, Axion for marimba and bassclarinet). Valentina Šaklina has impressed by her Requiem, Pavel Trojan Jr. by his vocal symphony RUR and Karel Smékal by his Concerto for two pianos and orchestra.

    At Brno Conservatory the teachers in compositional class are Radomír Ištván, Pavel Novák-Zemek and Tomáš Pálka. From the graduates especially Martin Vízner has attracted attention; in his praised composition In the Candy Store he joins modern timbre instrumental layers with declamational eff ects of comic character and with singing. The pieces by Judita Piknerová are characteristic by impressive poetics. In her work The Light for soprano, guitar and cello on verses by Jiří Wolker she avoids non-traditional treatment with individual voices.

    The composers Milan Báchorek and Edvard Schiff auer, as well as Markéta Dvořáková and Michal Jánošík teach at Janáček Conservatory in Ostrava. Among the students we may mention Marek Kozák (fi lling his melodies with rich emotional content), Jiří Najvar (who accentuates oddities in the relations between particular structural layers, even in his electroacoustic music), Jakub Pachol or Jan Kafka (who work with traditional tone systems). However, generally Jan Novobilský and Darina Bromková dominate the others, their works sharing a similar poetics resulting from the tension between sound and silence (Novobilský – Lamb the Moon; Bromková – Telephone Wires).

    Professor Václav Bůžek teaches at the conservatory in Teplice. He has prepared several successful students for music colleges (Michal Nejtka, Tomáš Pospíšil, Roman Pallas, Jan Kavan, Jan Trojan, Jan Duška Petr Hora or Jakub Rataj). Petr Hora composes fully in accordance with contemporary music (piano cycle In a Grain of Sand), using not only classical instrumentarium but also rock and jazz instruments (Snake Skin Jacket Suite). Jakub Rataj is a composer of a more subtle character (Morning Fragments, Sphinx Moth). From other students Jan Valenta, Jan Buňata or Peter Valenta deserve to be mentioned.

    The Plzeň Conservatory has just completed its fi ve-year existence. The compositional class is led by Jiří Bezděk. Pavel Samiec (excelling in instrumental music – A Whisperer) or Martin Červenka (particularly in vocal realm – Three Sacred Chants for mixed choir a cappella) belong to the most distinctive talents.


    CSEHIOVÁ, Agáta: Twenty Years of the Existence of Hungarian Friends of Music Society in Slovakia
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 77 – 98

    The Hungarian Friends of Music Society in Slovakia was founded on December 7, 1990 in Bratislava as part of Csemadok. Main tasks of the society include the organization of seminars, symposia and conferences, co-organization of nationwide music festivals and cultural events, cooperation with domestic and foreign institutions, associations and personalities. The aim and mission of the society is to develop the music culture and choral movement in Slovakia and to spread the creation and heritage of those signifi cant, mostly Hungarian music exponents whose life and creation were and/or are to a certain extent connected with certain towns or regions in Slovakia. On the basis of this plan various events began to arise: Piano Competition of Pál Kadosa in Levice (nine years during the period 1993–2009), festival Musical Encounter with Béla Bartók (Komárno 1991, Šahy 1994, 2001, Lučenec 1997, Rimavská Sobota 2006) and a conference with a concert Hommage à Bartók in Bratislava (2006). After its foundation the Hungarian Society of Music Friends in Slovakia started to collaborate on the development and spreading of choral movement in Slovakia. In 1992 it became the main organizer of the nationwide festival of Hungarian children’s and youths’ choirs in Slovakia The Sounding Song in Nové Zámky and since 1992 it has cooperated on a nationwide festival of singing choirs of adults in Slovakia Kodály’s Days in Galanta.

    In two decades of its existence the Hungarian Friends of Music Society in Slovakia has taken active part in cultural and music life in Slovakia. During the period 1990–2010 it organized 28 nationwide events as well as events with international participation. It has signifi cantly infl uenced the cultural and music life in Slovakia by its activities, various artistic and pedagogic events. It off ers the participants the space for an active presentation at home as well as abroad and at the same time it mediates meetings with important domestic and foreign music personalities. Its two-decades-long existence has been valuable and successful, therefore it ranges among important music societies at home as well as abroad.


    KRÁK, Egon: Honey, Ink and Peppermint… Some More Remarks on Gustav Mahler
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 99 – 101


    Urdová, Sylvia: Christian Dostal (ed.): Beiträge zur Gregorianik. Forschung und Praxis. Band 50
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 102 – 104

    [The contribution is available only in Slovak language in the printed version of the revue.]

    FÖLDEŠOVÁ, Marta: Miro Bázlik: Preludes – Daniel Buranovský
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 37, 2011, No. 1, pp. 104 – 106

    [The contribution is available only in Slovak language in the printed version of the revue.]