HANUŠ, JAN (1915-2004)

Jan Hanuš (May 2, 1915 – July 30, 2004) was a prolific Czech composer of the 20th century. Almost every category of composition is represented among his works, many of which are overtly political, expressing anti-Nazi, anti-Fascist and anti-Communist sentiments.

Hanuš studied composition independently with Otakar Jeremiáš while attending school at the Prague Conservatory, where he graduated in 1940. He subsequently studied at a business school, and then worked both as editor and editor-in-chief of several major publishing houses, including F. A. Urbánek & Sons, and Panton. As an editor he played an important role in overseeing the editions of the collected works of Antonín Dvořák and Zdeněk Fibich, both of whom he later emulated in his works, as well as the complete works of Leoš Janáček. Hanuš's early works were principally aimed at the passionate, the philosophic, and the patriotic, as exhibited in his opera The Flames. The first post-war decade witnessed lyricism near to national tradition, but since the late fifties a new tendency of dramaticism in his works arose and a musically expressive innovation, reaching as far as the combination of traditional classics with electronics (as seen in the opera The Torch of Prometheus) was born. During the seventies and eighties, his work synthesized all of his preceding influences. Much of Hanuš's work is inspired by the work of Czech authors, most notably Jaroslav Seifert.
After the Velvet revolution in 1989 Hanuš returned all the honours bestowed on him by the Communist regime. In 1999 Václav Havel rewarded Hanuš with a "Za zásluhy" medal. During the 1950's Hanuš bravely and publicly defended his friend Rudolf Margolius who was the victim of the Slánský trial.