Why They Do It

Opus Osm cello
Why They Do It: Music as a Labor of Love

Opus Osm periodically introduces lesser-known Czech composers to our world-wide audience, and last week you could read about Czech composer Jiří Matys. He’s written several compositions for advanced amateurs.

Today you can find out why playing classical music is just so important to some of these advanced amateurs. The three you’ll meet here gathered for four days of instruction, and performance in quartets and a 30-member temporary orchestra, all at the recent Slunohraní Music Festival in Nové Město nad Moravě.

So why do these so-called amateurs do it? Why do they keep playing music – to them, much more than a mere hobby, yet not a career?

Karel Petránek

Karel Petránek

Karel Petránek is an IT programmer from Hradec Kralové. He started playing violin in second grade at the insistence of his parents. “For the first 10 years I was begging them to let me stop,” he laughs, “but then I just suddenly started liking it.” He’s been playing continuously for a total of 18 years now.

He tells Opus Osm, “Here [at the festival] I don’t have to think about computers, there’s no internet; here, it’s awesome.” He says he’s learned as much in these four days as he ever learned in all his years of lessons.

“I’ve learned a new way to play, a new way to practice,” he explains. “Just by playing, and listening to [quartet workshop leaders] the Janáček Quartet I’ve completely changed the way I played in school.” He credits the professional Quartet for their ability to explain things in laymen’s terms. “And that’s something really special, for professional musicians,” he says.

Jarek Pavliš is a Brno systems engineer for a company making electron microscopes. He’s also a violinist with 20 years of experience, now playing in the Hronov Quartet. “I was thinking about playing professionally,” he tells us, “but a music career is very hard. There’s not much money. So I prefer to be an amateur.

“I have more opportunities than time” to practice and play, he admits. But since attending the festival, he says, he has a better feeling because his quartet “has a better fit than it did before.”

Břetislav Výbiral Jr

Břetislav Výbiral Jr

Cellist Břetislav Výbiral Jr says he’s enjoyed playing with the full orchestra here. The son of the Janáček Quartet’s cello player, he explains, “Music runs in my family. I’ve been playing the cello since I was 6 or 7 years old.” Back in Brno he’s part of a cello quartet which plays rock, metal, classical, and jazz. (You can see “Arrhythmia” on YouTube.) But at Slunohraní he’s part of a trio playing with the full orchestra in Corelli’s Concerto Grosso No 8.

Ironically, although blessed with musical genes, the younger Mr Výbiral is not going to pursue a music career. Instead, he wants to be a history and English teacher. Why? “History was the only subject that was interesting to me in school,” he says. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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