Jindrich Feld

(Tchécoslovaquie - Czechoslovakia)

Jindrich Feld was born in Prague on 19 February 1925. His father was a renowned professor of violin at the Prague Consenatory, his mother was violinist, so there were innumerable opportunities to hear music performed during Jindrich Feld's childhood. He studied violin and viola with his father, enjoyed playing chamber music, but his life-long interest has been centered in musical composition. His formal training in composition was at the Prague Conservatory and at the Academy of Music, where he graduated in 1952. In the same year he earned the Ph.D. from the Charles University in Prague with majors in musicology, aesthetics and philosophy.

For a number of years he was a free-lance composer. In the late 1950's his compositions began to attract considerable international attention, and he has since received numerous commissions. As his music was gradually given performances in many musical centres of the world, his contacts with Czech and foreign musicians often motivated him to write new works for them. This is apparently what is behind his love for instrumental music, both orchestral and chamber, which has so far constituted the main focus of his compositional efforts.

Feld's output of musical works may be divided into three periods. The first of these reflects the composer's ties with the tradition of European and especially Czech music, and is exemplified by his graduation work, Concerto for Orchestra. It already shows the author's characteristic features: tonal basis of his harmony, formal clarity, sense of instrumental virtuosity, rhythmic vitality etc. These were developed further, in particular, in his Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1954), performed by Jean-Pierre Rampal, and the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1958). In 1956 he also wrote what was his only stage work, a children's opera, The Postman's Tale.

The second period evolved in the sixties and can be characterized by a very individual amalgamation of his personal style with the modern technical methods of composition (dodecaphony, serial technique, aleatorics etc.), what contributed to the stylistic crystallization of his creative output. The two most important compositions of this period are the String Quartet No. 4 (1965), extensively performed by the Smetana and many other quartets, for which he was awarded the State Prize in 1968, and the Symphony No. 1 (1967), which has been performed by the Czech Philharmonie Orchestra under the direction of Antonio de Almeida.

Other works of this period that exemplify Feld's sense for architectural proportions, effective instrumentation, rhythmical pulsation etc., are the Suite for String Chamber Orchestra, which was also produced as an abstract ballet in Hannover in 1963 with the choreography by Yvonne Georgi, or Three Frescoes for Orchestra, performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and also the dramatic fantasy ,The Days of August 41, composed in 1968-69 as a protest against the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. This work was premiered in Adelaide (South Australia) by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Henry Krips in August 1969, on the first anniversary of this brutal act.

Feld's third period, comprising the production of the seventies and eighties, can be considered a synthesis of his creative activity characterized by further intensification of both content and expression. The most important works of this period are Concertos for Piano, Violin, Saxophone, Harp and others, String Quartet No. 5, Saxophone Quartet, Symphony No. 2 or, Laos Cantus for Soprano Voice and String Quartet, dedicated to the memory of J. S. Bach (1985). His largest and most important work is the oratorio-cantata Cosmae Chronica Boemorum for Soli, Mixed Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, composed on a medieval latin text by the first Czech chronicler Cosmos (+ 1125), depicting the oldest events of the early Czech history.

Jindrich Feld continues to add to his catalogue many varied works. Among these are several pieces for flute (e.g. Concert Fantasy for Flute and String Orchestra, written for the International Competition J. P. Rampal, Paris 1980) and also other wind instruments, accordions, percussion instruments, various ensembles etc. Mention should be made also of his vocal compositions and many instructive or small instrumental pieces.

In 1938 and 1969 Jindlich Feld accepted an invitation to be Guest Professor of Composition at the Adelaide University in Australia. He continued his interest in teaching at the Prague Conservatory, where he was Professor of Composition from 1972 until 1986. He was guest lecturer at Indiana University (Bloomington, USA) in 1981 and 1984. He lectured also at several other American universities as well as in Denmark, Norway, and West Germany or in 1991 in Japan. He is recipient of numerous prizes in various competitions in Czechoslovakia and other countries.

Since the Czechoslovak democratic revolution in November 1989 he has been active as a key member of several committees and organizations in his country (e.g. "Association of Czech Musicians and Musicologists"). In 1990 he accepted the position of Head of the Music Department of the Czechoslovak Radio.

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