Adamík Josef

Year of Birth - Death :
1947 - 2009 †
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Biography

Josef Adamík was one of the most gifted of Miloslav lštvan's students. After graduating from JAMU (the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno) he took himself off to Valašské Klobouky, where he had been working until his self-imposed untimely death as a teacher at an arts-orientated basic school. Here on the sidelines he created several remarkable pieces that always met with a favourable response from the public and performers. Josef Adamík always had a great understanding of the musician's soul and the instruments for which he was writing (At one of the Brno autumn festivals in the later seventies his piece Nebeské pastviny (Heavenly Pastures) was included at the request of the orchestra!). He was much less interested or talented, however, when it came to the intrigues necessary for building a career, and in any case his voluntary isolation made this difficult even had it been in his character.
He kept up his connection with JAMU with postgraduate studies, when he wrote several unusual pieces: Stínování (Shadowing) for flute, 4 violins and piano (1975), Vox humana for bassoon and piano (1975), Song for mixed choir, obce, trombone and percussion on a text by Walt Whitman (1975-76), a single experiment in the field of electro-acoustic music Z tajemné laboratoře v Bích Karpatech [From the Secret Laboratory in the White Carparthians] (1977-79) and most notable the extraordinarilyambition Wind Ouintet with Children's Toys (1977-79), in which he explored the idea of alternative ensembles and createcd several equal versions: The complete versions for instruments and children's toys, the version for instruments, the version for toys and solo versions for the different instruments (the five movement Sonatina for solo tlute, Four Inventions for oboe, the three-movement Zátiší s klarinetem [Still Life with Clarinet], Two Etudes for bassoon and Chorale for French horn). When composing these pieces the composer refused the usual acceptance of chance results and chose to work through all the variations in detail, but the performers are allowed to put together their own order of movements marked only by graphic symbols.
During this demanding project Adamík already started to suffer from the health problems that in the end became a source of inspiration for his 2nd Symphony (1983), an imposing work in which independently of outside influence (he had almost no up-to-date- information on international trends) he arrived at his own version of postmodernism. Here an archaistic "Beethoven-Schubertesque" texture gradually disintegrates under the force of its own logic. The composer himself characterised the works as a "musical allegory of human life marked by an excessively high dose of suffering".
During 1985 Adamík's health problems led him to decide to give up composing. Nor did a one-year episode of teaching at the Kroměříž Conservatory bring any change for the better; he found more understanding in the school environment, but no proper accommodation. ln the end he went back to Valašské Klobouky, where he was gradually overwhelmed by the limited conditions and growing problems at his work place. His unconventional, hypersensitive nature met with hostile attitudes in his surroundings. Around 1998 the crisis culminated in a sense of threat. At least a temporary return to composing brought some relief. In 1999 he wrote two monumental cycles: the piano Vzpomínky na lepší časy (Memories of Better Times) and Il ritorno for clarinet and piano. In both cases these were collections of many smaller pieces in archaicising mood. The undertones of historie music, which have always accompanied Adamík's work, are here uncovered and stripped of all modernist elements. These pieces are astounding for the radical simplification of techniques. Adamík seemed to give up not only modern forms of expression, but the whole of modern civilisation. His new work became an experiment in the true sense of the word: what would a man of today achieve if he were thrown four centuries back, and given only the means of expression known around 1600? It is the music of a world without flickering screens, exhaust fumes, third-party insurance and the ever present ominous whirring of electric appliances. In both these long cycles we sense the testimony of a human being in an extreme situation. They are both tragic and full of poetry. A music melancholic and consoling, containing both extreme simplicity and instrumental refinement. It is a voice that comes from the distance and from the deep.
While still teaching in Valašské Klobouky, in recent years before his self-imposed voluntary death his material circumstances had become even more straitened. He no longer has much strength left for systematic composing. His case is a dumb reproach to a society more interested in advertising, boulvard scandals, stupidities and noise than in genuine talent.