Meet Mr Pelikán
“Going to teach and play in Brazil was the best idea I have ever got. It was good to get on my own feet and the best time of my life,” he tells Opus Osm. “I couldn’t speak the language and taught myself while teaching the flute at the conservatory.
“My wife and I were taken care of by our students. I think because of those two years I have become part Brazilian. When I hear Portuguese people on the street, I want to talk to them.”
Mr Pelikán explains that Brazil is a very cultured country and “they have gone through the same development as the Czech national music in the 19th century. Carlos Gomes, Brazilian composer, was a contemporary of Antonín Dvořák, just not as famous as Dvořák.” In a nutshell: “One difference is that Brazilian music has specific rhythms. We could call them, simplistically, samba.”
Listen to Jaroslav Pelikán’s Sonatina Brasileira:
Flautist? Or Rather, Composer?
The former student of composer Juraj Filas, Mr Pelikán says, “My first focus/field of study was composition and I consider myself to be a composer first and then a flautist.” He only chose to take up the flute later.
“Playing the flute didn’t come naturally to me,” he confesses. “I was awkward and it required a lot of hard work to the play the instrument. So though I am perceived more as flautist, I think of myself as a composer.”
He shares, “Since early childhood, I have heard sounds in my head. Much later I fell in love with the music of Bohuslav Martinů and my [Prague Conservatory] composition teacher was Jindřich Feld, a correspondence student of Bohuslav Martinů.
“Just my method of composing is very specific, I let the music somehow come to me and click together. It’s a lucky accident.”
About Concerto Grosso
“I have been wanting to write a composition like this for twenty years,” he says. “As a graduate of music composition I felt awkward and wanted to improve my composition technique, so five years ago I decided to focus on composing counterpoint.
“Gradually, I started composing fugues and other contrapuntal and polyphonic exercises and I tried to use this historical form in a more modern contemporary aesthetic. Concerto Grosso was my final thesis or ‘maturita’ in the counterpoint technique, which I was composing for myself.”
You can listen to Concerto Grosso here. The composition consists of three movements. The first is dynamic, film-like, the second is a litany to Czech saints, and the final is based on a regular Baroque fugue.
A chamber version premiered last March when a friend from the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK) asked for a piece for their chamber music series. The premiere with full orchestra took place in November 2015, during the “Homage to Zelenka” concert by the National Theatre Orchestra.
– Zuzana Sklenková, Opus Osm assistant editor
Photo Credits: Top: Zuzana Sklenková; bottom, Jaroslav Pelikán; videos: YouTube