Kabeláč Miloslav

  • Kabeláč
Year of Birth - Death :
1908 - 1979 †
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The composer Miloslav Kabelac (1908-1979) studied composition at the Prague Conservatoire under Karel Boleslav Jirak and conducting under Pavel Dedecek, at its Master School he studied the piano under Vilem Kurz. Since 1932 he had been working in Radio Prague as a conductor and one of its first music directors. With an interval in 1941-1945, brought about by the situation under the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, he had worked here until 1954. As an organizer he had been active in the "Umelecka beseda", and later on, in the Union of Czechoslovak Composers. Since 1958 he had been a Professor of the Prague Conservatoire for many years. He had heralded the successful creative development of his pupils - Zdenek Lukas, Jan Malek, Jaroslav Krcek, Jan Slimacek and Ivana Loudova. He had also instigated wider links of subjects; among others he has been quoted by Jaroslav Krcek in his violin concerto, and by the Slovak composer Roman Berger in his composition for organ Exodus II. Abroad M. Kabelac entered into relation with the Service de la Recherche de I.O.R.T.F. and with the Centre for Electronic Music in Utrecht. He passed the newly-won knowledge over to the Czech creative public in the seminars of electronic and concrete music, established by Radio Prague in 1968-70.
Miloslav Kabelac delighted in issuing from simple materials, often coloured by folk music which, however, he introduced into unconventional stylistic relations. Such is e.g. his early cantata "Do Not Retreat!", a protest against Czechoslovakia' s occupation by Nazi Germany in 1939. It was followed by choruses based on the texts of the then popular poet Jiri Wolker. The further compositional features, typical of the whole of the composer s further work - a rational composition with making use of artificial modes, solidly articulated form structure and expressive instrumentation together with personally felt topical relevance - crystallized in his 1st Symphony in D for strings and percussions and in the 2nd Symphony in C for large orchestra, which was awarded the National Prize in 1948. It was performed at the international music festival Prague Spring and in 1949 at the festival ISCM in Palermo.
The period after 1945 witnessed the origin of a number of works inspired by folklore. Let us mention the Love Songs for soprano, baritone and piano and the Hunters Songs for baritone and 4 French horns. At the same time great symphonic conceptions were coming into existence - the orchestral passacaglia The Mystery of Time, the 3rd Symphony in F for organ, brasses and timpani, the 4th Symphony in A "Chamber" and the 5th Symphony in B flat minor "Dramatic" for soprano, without text, and orchestra. On the side of these great works were appearing chamber works important as far as development is concerned: Fantasia for Organ in G minor and D minor with the expressive Kabelac "primal motif" - a motif with minor third present in all his production, The Motifs from Faraway Countries for piano, reflecting M. Kabelac deep interest in non-European musical cultures, further on Preludes for piano, Ballad for violin and piano, Saxophone Suite etc.
In the late fifties and in the sixties, Miloslav Kabelac was in active contact with contemporary musical events in the world. Without interrupting the continuity with his present creative development, he adopts and works out a number of instigations of the New Music. His production finds an impact in the international scope and was being appreciated at outstanding festivals. He received even in his native country - which was then under the communist rule - the Klement Gottwald National Prize and the Prize of Czech Music Critics for the orchestral composition Hamlet Improvisation. 1965 saw the birth of the composition Eufemias Mysterion for Warsaw Autumn, to which the author had been invited since half of the fifties, when he was made Laureate of Wieniawski Competition for his Ballad for violin and piano. In 1967 Kabelac' s importance has been officially acknowledged by the composer' s appointment of the title 'Merited Artist'. The 7th Symphony was composed for Baden Baden orchestra. Kabelac's expressive use of percussion instruments, evident as early as in his cantata "Do Not Retreat!" and in the 1st Symphony, made the ensemble Les Percussions de Strasbourg order a composition for their setting. That gave rise to the 8 Inventions for Percussion Instruments, which were for the first time performed in 1965 at Strasbourg as a ballet, and since then had had about thousands performances. The Philips recording was awarded the Grand Prix Edison. The work was then assumed by a lot of percussion-instrument groups as well as of ballet ensembles - let us only mention the New York ballet group of Alvin Ailey. Under the influence of this success appeared further compositions for percussion instruments: Otto ricercari, also frequently mentioned, and the 8th symphony "Antiphonies" for soprano, mixed choir, percussion instruments and organ, composed similarly as the 7th Symphony on single words taken from the Bible, whose meaning M. Kabelac has concretized in the sense of the faith in human sensibility, reason and the will to overcome all difficulties. Of a great importance was the world premiere of the 8th Symphony in 1971 at the 33rd International Music Festival in Strasbourg, where even the Eight Inventions for percussions were performed for a hundredth time, and so was Czechoslovak premiere of the symphony in 1984.
For the monumental works of his last creative period, M. Kabelac found inspiration in Czech history. The six-movement electro-acoustic composition "E fontibus Bohemicis", with the subtitle Six tableaux from Czech annals, finished in 1972, is the processing of the sound of the biggest bell of Prague "Sigismond", in the course of the work, joined in by the oldest Czech chorale, by the organ version of the Hussite song, the fragment of the oldest Czech chronicle (by Cosmas), and by John Hus's words, the apex of the whole composition. The composition "Metamorphoses", finished in 1979 in two versions, most exacting in the interpretatíon especially in the vocal form, is again a new adaptation of the oldest Czech chorale.
The work of M. Kabelac is an original synthesis of old and new, rational and sensual, European and exotic; it is a work bearing features of a unique personal synthesis, which has become a component in the panorama of the world musical culture of the second half of the 20th century.