Pavel Bořkovec

composer (1894–1972)

One of the prominent representatives of the Czech interwar avant-garde, Bořkovec studied philosophy and aesthetics at Charles University in Prague before the World War I, although he never finished his studies. After the war he decided to concentrate on the career of a composer, and he started studying composition privately with Josef Bohuslav Foerster and Jaroslav Křička. Between 1925 and 1927 he was Josef Suk's student in his master class at the Prague Conservatory.

Under the influence of his tutors, it was the late Romantic stylistic orientation that, initially, found its way into Bořkovec's music, as represented by the symphonic poem Twilight (Stmívání) from 1920, the String Quartet No. 1 (1924–1925), and the Symphony No. 1 (1927).

By the end of the 1920s, however, he had started to absorb the current European trends, and had been considered, together with Alois Hába, as one of the most original innovators in Czech music. He was a member of the Manes Music Group whose objective was to promote the most recent tendencies in music. Bořkovec drew predominantly on Neo-Classicism, yet he did not shun expressivity and dramatic force in his music, either. There are to be found palpable links to Stravinsky, Honneger or Hindemith.

The following compositions, among others, are marked for the singularity of the author's musical speech: the ballet The Rat-Catcher (Krysař, 1939), the Nonet (1940), the Concerto Grosso (1941), the opera Tom Thumb (Paleček, 1947) or the String Quartet No. 4 (1947). From the works composed after the World War II it is the String Quartet No. 5 (1961), the Sinfonietta in Uno Movimento (1963 - 64), Silentium Turbatum, and others that belong to his most notable compositions.

In the years 19461964 he assumed the position of professor of composition at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where he educated several significant composers of the oncoming generation (among others Eben, Klusák, Blatný, Sluka, Sommer).

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