Friday, March 16, 2012: Drums ‘n Brass

Opus Osm Prague Symphony Orchestra

The Prague Symphony Orchestra's concert Sunday brings out the drums, brass, and more

Zdeněk Liška: Drums ‘n Brass on Sunday

Born in 1922 in Smečno, Zdeněk Liška was a quiet man who shunned the public eye – there are only a handful of photographs of him and perhaps one interview. Although music was this composer’s medium, film was truly his love. Nearly his entire career and body of work is music solely for the cinema.

“I write only for the pictures,” he once said.

His contribution to Czech films, beginning in the 1950s and through the late 70s, is prolific. He worked with the likes of Jan Švankmajer and was important in shaping the iconic sound and feel of the Czech New Wave, including films such as Marketa Lazarová and Valley of the Bees.

Liška composed continuously throughout his career, often working on several films at the same time.

The Prague Symphony Orchestra will return with the third of its four Sunday Family Series March 18 with Music for the Shah of Persia. The music is a suite of compositions composed by Liška for the Shah Reza Pahlavi between 1971-1978. The Shah had been impressed with the Czechoslovak pavilion at the World Expo `67 in Montreal and asked whether something similar couldn’t be re-created to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian monarchy.

The first part of the suite is called Legacy of Ages (1971), while the other pieces of the suite commemorate spaces, such as the Marble Palace or the 6th Bahman Museum. The suite is written for a large symphonic orchestra, including piano, harpsichords, two harps, drums and amplified brass instruments, and, in true Liška style, there is also an original visual component showcasing the locations the music represents.

While Liška received by the Ministry of Culture Award “for outstanding creative contribution to film music” posthumously in 2011 (he died in 1983), he still remains somewhat unknown to the general public. This performance should be unique and stand as a reminder of how powerful music can be, not just as a stand-alone art, but also as a means of creating atmosphere and tone in a world that is filled with moving images, fleeting moments, emotion, and color. — oo

– Katie Perkins

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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