EBEN, PETR (1929-2007)

Petr Eben was born January 22, 1929, in Žamberk, Eastern Bohemia and died November 24, 2007, in Prague. He is the best known contemporary Czech composer both at home and abroad. He was a charismatic personality with an education of unusual breadth and depth, an all-around composer, performer and teacher who was also active in many other fields of art. He was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the French title, Chevalier des arts et des lettres in 1991. Many of his award-winning works, choral and organ in particular, have become staple repertory items.
His formative years were lived in the medieval town of Český Krumlov where he learned to play the piano and organ. The events of World War II interrupted his musical studies. Expelled from school when the Nazis came to occupy Czechoslovakia in 1943, he and his father and relatives, were sent to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp where he remained until the camp's liberation in 1945.
Following the war, Petr Eben resumed his musical studies in earnest, entering the Prague Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts where he studied piano with Pavel Bořkovec and composition with František Rauch (1948-1952). His teaching career began in 1955 when he joined the faculty of Charles University in Prague.
As a teacher, Petr Eben taught composition, intonation and score playing for 35 years at the department of musicology of the Faculty of Arts and guided the development of many of the younger and middle-aged generation of Czech musicologists. From 1977-78, he was active as visiting professor of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. After the Velvet Revolution (September 1990), he was finally appointed senior lecturer in composition at the Academy of Music in Prague, becoming Professor in 1991 for several years. Official recognition of his work came on his 65th birthday when Charles University in awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Petr Eben was a piano and organ performer and appeared as soloist, chamber player, accompanist and brilliant improviser. His interpretive art, just like his compositions, earned him international renown.
Petr Eben, a composer of well over 200 works in all musical genres including opera, developed a personally expressive musical idiom. His music proved that artistic expression firmly rooted in tradition can, at the same time, be modern and topical. With only a few exceptions, he never left the territory of tonality which did not prevent him from using some serial procedures and aleatorics in a functional and meaningful way.
Typical of his idiom is a consistent use of historical material, forms, genres and compositional techniques of old music giving them contemporary relevance. The scope, depth and systematic character of his interest in the forgotten values of old music are highly individual, and constitute the basis of his very original style. Plainchant and liturgical music in general, their melodic material, forms and genres, as well as texts, have been one of the chief sources of Petr Eben's inspiration from the beginning.
Eben's nationalist feelings were reflected in his use of the earliest Czech sacred and secular output as well as Czech folklore in a very individual and original way. His modern arrangements of folk songs, often intended for young people, as well as his own instructional compositions are an equally important contribution towards Czech music and initiate students into the world of modern music.
Never limiting himself to "national" themes, Eben was a modern artist understanding the need for global cultural integrity. He was often inspired by international timeless subjects not restricted either geographically or historically. His subjects came from antiquity and biblical times, inspirations from the cultures of European and non-European cultures, historical as well as modern subjects drawing from music, literature, drama and the fine arts.
Choral Titles by Petr Eben from API -
Abba-Amen SATB a cap - AP-01285

Az ja pojedu & Esce si ja pohar vina (When I Will Ride) & (I'll Buy One More Glass of Wine) SATB a cap - AP-01295

Ca' Hawkie Solo/SSA a cap - AP-01326

Das Lieben bringt gross Freud (Loving brings great Joys) SSA a cap/Alto Recorder - AP-01721

Dobru noc (Good Night) SATB a cap - AP-1267Four Polish Songs SSA/pcn a cap - AP-01325

Galanecko starodavna & Proc si k nam nepriseu (Age-Old Sweetheart) & (Why Didn't You Come to Our House?) SATB a cap - AP-01296

Good and Upright Is Our God  SATB/organ - AP-01323

Studena rosenka pada (Cold Dew Falls)  SATB a cap - AP-01268

Tancuj, tancuj, vykrucaj (Dance, Dance)  SATB a cap - AP-01270

The Eyes of All Wait  SATB/Organ - AP-01322

Three Czech Carols  SSA a cap - AP-01068

Zahucaly hory (Roaring Mountains)  SATB a cap - AP-01269

Two Invocations  Solo Trombone & Organ - AP-00355 (UMP-TP) (11:19) Commissioned by the Czech Music Alliance.