• 1/2012: Hommage à Ján Cikker

    1/2012: Hommage à Ján Cikker


    ŠTEFKOVÁ, Markéta: Preface
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 5 – 7


    MICHALICA, Peter: Foreword
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 8 – 12


    ZVARA, Vladimír: Ján Cikker’s Opera ‘Mister Scrooge’: ‘The setting may be changed’
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 13 – 32

    Slovak composer Ján Cikker composed one of his most significant operas after Dickens’ novella ‘A Christmas Carol’. The work originated in 1958–1959 and reveals marks of a difficult period in the composer’s life (Buerger’s disease). The opera had a complicated fate as its performance in the Slovak National Theatre was banned by the political power, so its premiere took place no sooner than in 1963 in Kassel. It is a courageous and concise dramatization of Dickens’ text utilizing a strong psychological music language, based on the conception of modes and interval harmony. The specific trait of the work is a strange obscurity, permeable line between the real and the fantastic – a certain kind of magical realism. That is the most progressive characteristic feature of the work and due to it it is left open towards various ways of seizing from the side of stage directors (urged to possible ‘change of setting’ by Cikker himself in his introductory note in the vocal score).

    VALOVIČOVÁ, Lucia: Opera ‘The Game on Love and Death’ by Ján Cikker – the Genesis of the Opera and Elaboration of the Libretto in the Context of its Inspirational Sources
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 33 – 50

    The contribution is primarily focused on the genesis of the libretto of the opera. In the preface it briefly outlines Cikker’s ‘way’ to The Game on Love and Death and states the basic data revealing the origination of the opera work, leading to its premiere on August 1, 1969 at the Munich Opera Festival.

    The complications connected to the opera creation were caused by the original hesitation of the widow of Romain Rolland (author of the original novel) and the publishing house Choudens, to which Mrs. Rolland had rendered over the copyrights even before Cikker’s request arrived. The author adverts to Cikker’s collaboration with Fritz Oeser, who in his two letters approves and comments on Cikker’s basic concept of the opera and deals with the question of the copyrights. He proposes Cikker to visit the Prague stage production of The Game on Love and Death led by the stage director Alfred Radok. He let himself be inspired by it in his dramaturgical solutions and, for instance, possibilities of usage of the scenic space, which he submits to Cikker. The author of the contribution quotes also the examples attesting to Oeser’s author’s role in the opera origin, as well as dramaturgically important and interesting factors of Cikker’s work.

    LENGOVÁ, Jana: Cikker and His ‘Coriolanus’
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 51 – 66

    The sixth opera by Ján Cikker Coriolanus after the eponymous tragedy by William Shakespeare originated in the first years of the ‘normalization process’ in Czechoslovakia. The contribution deals with the circumstances of its origin and questions of semantic and musico-dramatic contexts.

    According to autograph sources deposited in Ján Cikker Museum in Bratislava the composer finished the vocal score on January 20, 1972, and the orchestration on December 31, 1972. His attention was drawn to the subject by the theatrologist Ján Boor. Tragedy Coriolanus has been published in Slovak language in a publication of Shakespeare’s dramas titled Roman Plays (Anticke hry, Bratislava, Tatran, 1968), translated by Zora Jesenská (1909 – 1972) on the basis of Ján Rozner’s interpretation. During the normalization the translator was ranked among proscribed authors. This translation became the basis for the libretto written by the composer himself. Karl Votterle from the Barenreiter publishing house offered him another impulse, this resulted in Cikker’s orchestral piece Hommage a Beethoven (1969), in which he let himself be inspired by Beethoven’s orchestral overture Coriolan. On the title page of the opera score Ján Cikker wrote the motto, a line from the poem The Earth Is Speaking by Viktor Dyk: ‘If you leave me, I.shall not die, if you leave me, you will die!’ The bottom part of the title page of the score is torn away, originally it conveyed the text: ‘On occasion of the 25th anniversary of the February’. The published piano score of the opera (Opus, 1981) has neither motto nor dedication written in it. By his opera the composer reacted to political events which hurt him essentially, thus the piece may be categorized as ‘music as autobiography’.

    Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is usually labelled as a political drama, analogically Cikker’s Coriolanus is a political opera, as it intensely reflects the relation of man and politics. The composer compacted the libretto into 3 acts and 14 scenes, supplemented by fragments from ancient Greek lyric poetry (Euripides, Sophocles, Palladius). He used effectively the principle of dramatic short cuts. Cikker’s opera belongs to the kind of literature operas (Literaturoper). The hero Coriolanus, baritone, is the axis and driving force of a musico-dramatic concept of the opera. The Roman people work as his opponent in the opera, named also as a crowd, represented by a mixed choir. The relation Coriolanus–people is depicted on the background of a considerable social conflict misused by the people’s tribunes Sicinius and Brutus for manipulation of the crowd. Two female roles of contrasting character possess a dramatic gravity: his mother, vigorous Roman patrician Volumnia and his wife, gentle Virgilia. The epical meaning of the latter character was deepened as a compensation for insufficient lyrical element in the literary original. Cikker’s approach accentuates ideological humaneness.

    The orchestra is the medium of musico-dramatic evolution, sonoristics and expressiveness. The tone material is organized on the basis of interval harmony with an application of chromaticism, however, the gravitation of tonal centre/centres is respected. To the basic elements of both vertical and horizontal structures belong the intervals of a tritone, the perfect fourth, perfect fifth and a semitone, as well as augmented octave or minor tenth. The second fulfils an incommutable role helping to thicken chords, in poly-melodic sections and sound clusters. A.special semantic and tectonic meaning in the opera is given to choirs, presented as various collective musico-dramatic characters. Originality and innovativeness with which Ján Cikker seized control over the literary original in his opera Coriolanus deserves the respect as well as ranking among the composer’s top operas.

    HATRÍK, Juraj: Cikker’s ‘Coriolanus’ and Beethoven’s ‘Coriolan’
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 67 – 87

    In his study the author considers the contexts, allusions and ‘metasign’ relations between Beethoven’s ouverture Coriolan Op. 62, and Ján Cikker’s orchestral work ‘Homage to Beethoven’ from 1970.

    For a better comprehension of the motivation leading Cikker to write the piece dedicated to Beethoven the writer briefly reminds us of the circumstances connected with its origin (200th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday) as well as of some other aspects which directed Cikker towards the usage of the Second Viennese School influences and to the choice of the tragical, fatal story of ancient hero Coriolan, resulting finally in writing the homonymous opera.

    ‘Homage to Beethoven’ is Ján Cikker’s tribute to Beethoven not only by its theme (story), but also – and particularly – by a structural elaboration of the Beethovenian original. The overture Coriolan Op. 62, with its fascinating evolutional progress, only roughly respecting the classical sonata model, offered Cikker an impetus to rich and multivalent variability, and remarkable transformation of the original material. Due to it he succeeded to attain a high level of concentration, inner unity while continually building the dramatic meaning from ‘subsigns’ through signs to the ‘supersigns’ of the complex structure.

    In the process of permanent metamorphoses Beethoven’s impulses result in an original and independent world of Cikker’s, a portrait of the self-contradictory and tragical hero. On the first contact it looks almost impenetrable, inaccessible to an analysis, filled by painful and disharmonical neurosis … After the closer familiarization with the structure and the composer’s elaboration the work reveals a perceptible and clearly visible tendency to the great symbol of not only Beethoven’s music language – to the quotation of the famous question ‘Muss es sein?’. Also in Cikker’s piece, similarly to Beethoven’s final movement of the String quartet  F Major Op. 135, ‘Der schwer gefasste Entschluss’, comes a strenuously gained conclusion. By this Cikker reacted not only to his own personal problems, but also to the situation in the society at the early 1970s after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, his native land, by the armies of the Warsaw Treaty, which deeply and tragically marked his world of man and of composer …

    PALOVIČOVÁ, Jordana: Piano Works by Ján Cikker from the Viewpoint of the Pianist
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp 88 – 99

    The main topic of the contribution is the piano music by a distinguished Slovak composer Ján Cikker (1911 – 1989). The author, a Slovak pianist who has recorded and played Cikker’s solo piano pieces, focuses on their performance, main technical problems, texture. She points out Cikker’s family background (Cikker’s mother was a sought-after piano teacher), his brilliant piano playing and concern for the sonority of the instrument. Furthermore the study familiarises the reader with particular performing issues of each solo piece available as well as of Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, stressing e.g. difficult broken chords or leaps in Sonatina Op. 12 No. 1, emotional profoundness of Cikker’s juvenile work Piano Variations Op. 14 No. 1, the problem of balance between piano and orchestra in vivid Concertino, relaxed arm and hand shifting in Lullaby, virtuosity and exploitation of impressionistic sonority in Brooks of Tatras, tonal delicacy of miniatures in the cycle What the Children Told Me etc. The author also reveals the contradictions between the enthusiastic reception of Cikker’s well-known as well as less-known pieces by the audience on the one hand and the current alarming situation in the young generation lacking the detailed knowledge of piano music of one of the most important Slovak composers on the other hand.


    MICHALICOVÁ, Irena: The Museum of Ján Cikker, Its Activities and Perspectives
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 100 – 105

    After seven years of its existence the Ján Cikker Museum, seated in the former home of Cikker family, prides itself on a number of successful events. It forms an organic part of the composer Ján Cikker heritage. The building has not been completely reconstructed yet.

    A consequential role in the dissemination of the creative legacy of the composer belongs to the professional musical world of performers and musicologists. Concert events pertain to the most frequent activities of Ján Cikker Museum. The museum organizes its own autumn concert cycle, accentuating a different topic each year. In seven years the rooms of the museum have been visited by 6,000 visitors. The ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium Alain Cools chose Ján Cikker Museum and Cikker’s work for the foreign broadcasting of the Slovak Radio for francophone countries as the subject which attracted him most of all in Slovakia. The Baha‘i Faith chose the rooms of the Museum for its cultural and social events and lectures several times, they organized also the recital of Iranian violinist Bijan Khadem Missagh there.

    The important mission the museum fulfils is the incessant work with Cikker’s heritage. The museum collaborates also with other museums and cultural institutions. It is attractive for radio hosts, publicists from newspapers and magazines and various TV companies. Every year the chronicle of the museum is enriched with reports, interviews, articles, features from dozens of media sources. One of the dominant features of the museum is its methodical mission and work with youth.

    BÁRDIOVÁ, Marianna: Cikker’s Heritage from the Viewpoint of Music Museology
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 106 – 120

    In the introduction of her contribution the author brings the basic information about the structure of artistic and personal legacy of composer Ján Cikker and about activities which led to the foundation of the Ján Cikker Foundation. According to the original intention the seat of the foundation should have been the house in Banska Bystrica in which the composer was born, however, as this one was restituted and returned to its latest owners, the seat of the foundation has become the family house of Katarína and Ján Cikker in Bratislava.

    In the following text the author documents the proposal on the museum utilization of the Cikkers’ family house. On the basis of the decree of the board of administration of the Ján Cikker Foundation the Ján Cikker Museum was established on January 1, 2004. After some necessary reconstructions, which have not been completely finished yet, the museum started its interesting activities. Ján Cikker’s legacy has been worked on by its director Irena Michalicová, she has been building the actual collection fund of the museum, she organizes concert, artistic, cultural and educational events and in a co-operation with the administrator of the foundation Božena Reingraberová and other members of the administration board she maintains the upkeep of the villa as a whole.

    In the third section of the contribution Cikker’s legacy is considered from the point of view of general museology and music museology, which was specified by the author in her PhD thesis The Relation of Museology and Musicology (2006) as a new specialized interdisciplinary research. The author explains the musealization of the reality as a process, an active approach of man to reality, which comprises not only the evaluation of the heritage of the past, but heads towards the inclusion of a particular fund into the cultural heritage as a legacy for future generations. From this viewpoint she accentuates the necessity to select and collect Cikker’s heritage in such a way, that it could give an account of its author in the most objective way. It is necessary to finish the selection of the whole of Ján Cikker’s artistic heritage respecting the museological procedures, i. e. to carry out the process of musealization and to assess each component of the collection from the viewpoint of its cognitive, informative and cultural value and to define it as a museological object. She reminds us that in the systematic assortment of the musical output in a preserved form (manuscripts of pieces, sketches, printed works, audio records etc.) the musicological viewpoint has to be in balance with the museological viewpoint.

    The final section of the contribution outlines the perspectives of specialized registration and presentation of Cikker’s legacy. After the assortment and collection of the whole fund and its electronic registration in the nation-wide system ESEZ (Elektronické spracovanie evidencie zbierok / Electronic

    Register of Collections) the goal will be to produce a detailed catalogue of Ján Cikker’s music, as the basis for gradual critical publication of the collected works of the composer. The endeavour of the Ján Cikker Museum as well as of its Foundation is to make accessible the personal and musical heritage of Ján Cikker not only in the study of the museum, but also in a wider Slovak and international music-cultural context by innovative and attractive, as well as purposeful and meaningful forms and ways, which would respect the content and spirit of the musealization of reality.


    POLÁKOVÁ, Zuzana: Ján Cikker. Selected Bibliography
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, 2012, No. 1, pp. 121 – 125