Válek Jiří

  • Válek
Year of Birth - Death :
1923 - 2005 †
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Jiri Valek wrote his first significant compositions in the years 1942-43 under the impression of fascist terror in Czechoslovakia. He studied composition with Jaroslav Ridky at Prague Conservatory where he graduated in 1947 in his Master Class. He privately studied philosophy, aesthetics, the history of music and music theory. In 1950 he graduated from the College of Higher Education and in 1952 was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Charles University in Prague. In the years 1949-52 he was creative secretary of the newly established Union of Czechoslovak Composers and from 1959 belonged among the senior staff members of the Panton publishing house. Later he became the Artistic Director of Supraphon. Since 1966 he has been Professor of Composition at Prague Conservatory and since 1979 he is Associate Professor of Composition at the Prague Academy of Music Arts.
The supporting pillars of Jiri Valek' s work are his 18 symphonies in which he expressed his attitude to important historical and social aspects of our civilization in the past and present. In his chamber music compositions and concertant music he draws on the inner and emotional depths of contemporary man, often laying the artistic foundations to the subsequent symphony. This was true, for instance, of his violin concerto "Hymn of the Sun" written at the request of Austrian violinist Lukas David and West German conductor O. Maga, which is followed up by the 11th symphony "Revolutionary". Valek' s Concerto for marimba and orchestra, the first Czech composition of its kind, expresses the composer' s ideas of unofficial contemporary festivity. Valek' s large compositions culminate in full-length stage music: the music stage drama "Shakespearean Variations" represent nine most contradictory human types and situations, the opera "Hour of Truth" expresses in a satirical manner the fusion of life and play in the present epoch of civiliation and the opera "Hamlet, our Contemporary" is written as a topical optimistic and satirical variation on Shakespeare s theme. Next to the said operas Valek has written other satirical works, namely the "Sonata about Auxiliary Life" for three instruments and a moderator, "Concerto Burlesco" for French horn and orchestra and the l5th symphony - oratorio "Sarcastic" which together with the 14th symphony "Trionfale" and the 16th symphony "Neter" is the ideological and artistic culmination of the series of Valek' s symphonies.The two last ones - the 17th "Hradcanska" (Symphony - opera, libretto by A. France, for 9 soloists, two mixed choirs and orchestra) and the 18th "Alternative" (text by K. H. Borovsky and F. Soukup for baritone, childrens' choir and chamber orchestra) are the largest Valek's vocal symphonies.
In the years 1950-1970 Valek wrote over 100 songs and compositions for children and youth for many of which he was awarded first prizes in home and foreign competitions. Of his instructive compositions the "Sonata eroica" for trumpet and piano became the compulsory piece in international interpretation competitions. His work as composer is closely linked with his literary work which is extensive and comprises monographs, theoretical works and miscellaneous smaller works. In 1992 Valek became the co-founder of the private Vocal Conservatory of Prague.