Gemrot Jiří

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The composer and music director Jiri Gemrot was born into a family of musicians. He learned to play the piano from the age of seven with Ema Dolezalova, and to compose since he was thirteen with Jan Zdenek Bartos. He then continued under these teachers while attending the Prague Conservatoire in 1972-76. This was followed by participation in Jiri Pauer's composition class at the Prague Academy of Arts, where he finished his studies in 1981. He also took part in a Master Composers Course with Franco Donatoni in Siena. He was working as a music director (from 1982 to 1986) in Czechoslovak Radio, and since 1986 he has been engaged as a record editor in the Panton Publishing House (until 1990). He also held an official position in the Union of Czech composers and Concert Artists and its Young Group. Since 1990 he has been working as a music director in chief at the Czech Radio in Prague. Since 2001 he has also been teaching composition at the Prague conservatoire.

Several times over he enjoyed success in the annual "Generation" competition for young artists held in Ostrava, Moravia, and in the Czech Republic's Young Composers Competition. Not infrequently, Jiri Gemrot has been inspired by the performances of musicians to whom he has dedicated his works. To cite but a few examples, there is Cello Concerto written for Marie Hixova, his Piano Sonata No. 2 tailored for Milan Langer, his organ Fresco for Melanie Pustejovska, Meditations for viola and organ dedicated to Ladislav Kyselka and Josef Popelka, the guitar Fantasy and Toccata for Miloslav Klaus, Summer Study for the Prague Saxophone Ouartet and Bucolics for the Stamic Quartet. Speaking of his current works, mention should be made of his Suite with a children's theme, which was commissioned by the Czech Music Fund for a Czech Nonet anniversary, and another composition for a nation-wide harpsichord competition which is dedicated to Giedre Luksaite-Mrazkova.
Jiri Gemrot's is a composer who wishes to contribute to the renewal of contacts between contemporary composers and their audiences. Primarily an instrumental composer, Gemrot believes that his inventive faculties are best suited to chamber genres. Often inspired by the musicians to whom he has dedicated works, he also finds inspiration in age-old questions of philosophy. He takes classical composers as his models, appreciating their work with themes and their tectonics; Prokofiev as a master of new, intelligible and laconic melodies; Martinu who managed to ward off atonal procedures and found his own original tonality. Also, he admires Dvorak, Janacek and Britten. According to the composer, his type of inventive faculties are best suited to chamber genres. Admittedly, his language utilizes the forward-thrusting music evolved in the twentieth century, but it is his aim to fuse styles, to unite past and present. In his composition he often resorts to the sonata form in an unconventional way, regarding it as a principle of evolution and contrast. Moreover, it is not rare for Gemrot to pose philosophical and artistic questions in his music; in his orchestral Tributes (Hommages), for instance, he pays homage to artistic points of reference; a respect for tradition (in "Heritage") and human feelings, which may be identical to artistic sentiments (in "Emotions"), "Maxims" for fifteen stringed instruments consist of three parts; "Prologue" is a vision of original human purity, "Drama" characterizes man's social debut, and in "Contemplation" the composer considers how some ideals undergo changes. In his symphonic music there is a sequence to Maxims expressed in Dances and Reflections which are a kind of allegory of good and evil as they are mirrored on an extroverted and introverted plane of human perception. This area of thought on attaining a greater balance is brought to a culmination in Three Adagios dealing firstly with nature, secondly with the soul and lastly with death.
Jiri Gemrot often treats classical forms in unconventional ways by emphasizing elements of evolution and contrast rather than traditional thematic development. Although fluent with current compositional trends, Gemrot regards both 19th and early 20th-century composers as important models. His own works are suffused with their themes and specific architectural elements - the original tonalities of Martinu, the ironic melodies of Prokofiev, the long phrases of his countrymen Dvorák and Janácek.