Meet Mr Matys
“His work is poetic. Lyrical,” says violinist Richard Kružík. He’s speaking about Czech composer Jiří Matys. “He’s written seven string quartets, and each one is completely different from the other.”
Mr Matys, who will celebrate his 85th birthday Oct 27, has a long resumé of work experience and a long list of compositions, ranging from works for solo instruments and chamber works for quartets and quintets, to orchestral works, to music for children and accessible pieces for advanced amateurs.
From the beginning of his long and varied career, Mr Matys has paid special attention to amateurs, writing purely instructional pieces as well as compositions designed to be mastered by them. In these and all his works, his music is characterized by music experts as carrying straightforward, diatonic harmonies, a strong sense of melody, and yes, poetic expression.
The composer received his first musical instruction from his father, an organist, choir master, and music teacher. His formal training began in the late 1940s, at the Brno Conservatory and Janáček Academy of Music, and later he taught at both places, plus at Brno’s Academy of Dance. He also served as the director of the People’s School of Arts, and as the secretary of the Czechoslovak Composers’ Union.
Even though he has such a complete and voluminous body of work, unfortunately, compositions by Mr Matys have not filled the concert programs of major Prague orchestras recently. However, you can hear Mr Matys’ Second String Quartet in December at the annual České Doteky Hudby (A Touch of Czech Music) festival. It will be performed by the quartet which since 2003 has dedicated its name to him, The Matys Quartet (Matysovo Kvarteto).
The Matys Quartet is composed of Mr Kružík, first violin; Jakub Látal, second violin; David Šlechta, viola; and Robert Kružík, cello. The group focuses on composers from the second half of the 20th century, and started when Richard Kružík and his friend Mr Látal themselves were students at the same place where Mr Matys studied, the Brno Conservatory.
“For us, playing the Quartet in the Doteky Hudby festival, in this year of Mr Matys’ 85th birthday, is special motivation,” violinist Kružík says. It’s also an excellent opportunity for the general public to meet the music of this long-time, prolific, and poetic Czech composer. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Matys Quartet website