Alexej Fried

(Tchéchoslovaquie - Czechoslovakia)

Alexej Fried, born in Brno on October 13 th 1922, is a leading representative of a style aimed at integrating jazz and classical music. He is the sort of composer who applies the architectural and formal principies of classical music as well as the improvisation, rhytm and instrumental specialities of jazz, expanding the sphere of unusual instrumental arrangements and utilising novel techniques of composition in order to express his own musical ideas [eg. Triple Concerto, Bread and Games etc.].

Already an experienced performing artist [on piano, violin, trumpet, percussion instruments), arranger and conductor of his own bigband, between 1945 and 1953 Fried studied composition at the Conseraatoire of Music in Brno with Theodor Schafer, at the Prague Conservatoire under Emil Hlobil and at the Prague Academoy of Dramatic Arts with Pavel Borkovec. At that time and in the following years Fried devoted himself to arranging and composing film and stage music, popular music and primarily jazz. Duke Ellington himself singled out Fried's arrangement of his Caravan as the best in Europe at that time.

Furthermore, Alexej Fried became a teacher at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Prague, being co-founder and director of the International Jazz Festival in Prague, artistic leader of the Army Art Ensemble etc.

During the early 1970s, Fried was one of the first Czechoslovak composers whose compositions for jazz orchestras successfully promoted such musical forms and effectively integrated elements of jazz and classical music. This culminated with Fried's jazz sinfonietta entitled The Moravian Wedding (1972) and his jazz double-concerto Solstice (1973), compositions which have gained international recognition and fame [as illustrated by the reviews published in the English magazine The Gramophone and the American Down Beat journal]. In the following years Alexej Fried wrote symphonic and chamber works in which jazz elements were used in a stylized form [eg. Concerto for Symphony Orchestra (1974); Sonatina drammatici (1975) etc.]. Equally noteworthy are the ballet arrangements of his compositions The Moravian Wedding, Solstice, Triple Concertino, Sonatina drammatica etc., which have since been performed both in Czechoslovakia and abroad.

A major source of inspiration for Alexej Fried is the considerable interest in his works on the part of leading performers from the field of classical music. His compositions are recorded by gramophone companies, printed, broadcast by radio stations and performed in concert halls both at home and abroad for instance Fried's Gothic Concerto for Chamber Orchestra was performed at the Music Festivities in Dresden and at the Festival of Contemporary Music in Aspen in the United States; his Guernica, quintet for soprano saxophone and string quartet, in Nuremberg, in many places in Spain, at the Festivals of Contemporary Music in Berlin and Dresden; Sidonia with Don Ellis in the United States, his Concertino for Clarinet and Piano in the USA; the Triple Concerto for Flute, Clarinet, French Horn and Orchestra at the International Jazz Festival and on Czechoslovak Television in Prague, his Triple Concertino for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Two Percussion Players and Strings on Czechoslovak Television. This last composition served as a basis for a ballet film choreoghaphes by I. Kubicova, which was later perlormed in England, Switzerland, Hungary. The Moravian Wedding was performed at the International Jazz Festivals in Prague and Warsaw and also as a television film etc.

On several occasions Alexej Fried was the guest of the North German Radio in Hamburg and Hannover where he recorded most of his compositions himself, both for bigband and for symphony orcheatra (eg. The Nude, Sidonia for Bigband, Panem et circenses for Flute, Soprano Saxophone, French Horn and Orchestra, Triple Concerto for Flute, Clarinet, French Horn etc.).

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