Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Simple gifts - free Czech music downloads

Few people over the last half century have made an impact on Czech classical music that comes anywhere close to that of the composer Viktor Kalabis (left), who died on 28th September 2006 at the age of 83. His work emerges from a great musical tradition that includes Stravinsky and Martinu, and his compositions are typically characterized by a sense of drama combined with a strong feel for inner musical logic.

Viktor Kalabis was also a brilliant organizer. The legacy of his twenty years as Music Director at Czechoslovak Radio that ended in 1972 is felt to this day. He did not have an easy time with the communist regime, and had to wait over forty years before finally being awarded the title of PhD, that he had earned at Prague's Charles University back in 1952. In the years after the Velvet Revolution he played a central role in setting up the Bohuslav Martinu Institute in Prague, devoted to the legacy of the composer. The institute's current director, Ales Brezina, was a close friend and colleague, and a few days ago we met to talk about the life and work of a man who will be hugely missed.

This tribute to Viktor Kalabis comes from the website of Radio Prague. The great news is that it is the introduction to an eleven minute podcast in English which can be downloaded here -

And it gets even better. The programme on Kalabis is one of ten feature length podcasts in English which can be downloaded for free. Among the other featured Czech composers are Jaroslav Jezek (1906-1942), Oldrich Korte (b1926), Antonin Rejcha, Leos Janacek, and from the Baroque Jan Dismas Zelenka. The perfect simple, and free gift -we all owe the indefatigable Walt Santner huge thanks for giving us an alternative to yet another Toy Story re-run this Christmas.

Now take An Overgrown Path to Marvellous Má Vlast - Czech it out
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