Tuesday, May 10, 2011:Meet Mr Lukáš

Conductor Jiří Kubík, violinist Jan Šmydke (left) of Quattro Corde

Zdeněk Lukáš was a contemporary Czech composer you’ve probably never heard of.

But you might want to change that.

“He is a contemporary or modern composer,” explains Jan Šmydke, “but still, I would say, a somewhat ‘soft’ Czech musician — with a feeling of Czech music, but from the second half of the 20th century.”

Mr Šmydke is just about to perform a solo from Lukáš’ Canti op. 175 as a member of the string chamber orchestra Quattro Corde, in a public concert May 5 at the Czech Museum of Music.

Lukáš’ music is often described as having Czech folk music influences, with a sense of urgency or energy.

It’s as if part of the music says “Yes, this is beautiful” and part of it says “Listen! Listen! Hurry, wake up!”

Teacher Turned Composer

Zdeněk Lukáš

Lukáš was born in 1928 and, unlike composers with a long list of top musical accomplishments, lived a comparatively quiet life: he was an elementary school teacher for five years, worked at the state radio station in the town of Pilsen, founded and directed a mixed choir, Czech Song; taught briefly at The Prague Conservatory. He died in 2007.

However, he had studied music theory in high school and began composing then, remaining mostly self-taught. For eight years, starting at age 34, he enjoyed private tutorials under established composer Miloslav Kabelac.

Although his freedom to experiment and to travel abroad was curtailed by the communist regime especially after 1968, Lukáš quietly continued to compose, creating more than 330 pieces, including six symphonies, several operas, chamber music, and choral and vocal works.

His work has won international awards and is starting to be noticed internationally, according to API Music, a US music publishing house specializing in Czech and Slovak music. “Upon listening, one can always detect the inner spark of Lukáš after experiencing the first few moments of his music,” according to API’s website. “His musical style comes across vividly and poignantly.”

Meanwhile, violinist Mr Šmydke tells Opus Osm, “It’s good music to listen to and to play. My part is a little more advanced, but not as difficult as it looked at first.”

You can get a sense of how beautiful the performance was, including its peaceful, calming resolution, by clicking on its video excerpt, below. –oo

–Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Zdeněk Lukáš, by PerToon, Last.fm website; main photo and video, Miroslav Setnička

One Comment

  1. Lynne DeMichele
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Yes, beautiful. I’d never heard of Lukaas before. Thanks, OO.

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