HURNÍK, ILJA (1922-2013)

Ilja Hurník (born 22 November, 1922 at Poruba) is a Czech composer, pedagogue, writer and playwright. Born into a teacher's family, Ilja began to compose in the age of 11. In 1938 after seizure of Czech-German borders by Hitler, the family moved to Prague. He entered the Prague Conservatory, then went on to the Prague Academy of Arts, where he studied with Ilona Štěpánová-Kurzová, daughter of Vilém Kurz. Hurník studied conservatory there (composition under Vítězslav Novák, piano under V. Kurz), later also Musical Academy. As musician, he was recognized interpreter of Debussy and Janáček's piano works.

In his composition, he was influenced by traditional music of his native Silesia (on Czech-Polish border), also impressionism, neoclassicism and New Music. Step by step without big style changes, he developed a very specific musical language of his own. He is the author of several musical textbooks and a keen popularizer of classical music (8 LP set Art of Music Listening, #19911998). His sister married the well known composer Petr Eben, his son Lukas is also a recognized composer. His three nephews have a popular folk band of the Eben Brothers.

His 1952 Sonata da camera, for flute, oboe, cello and harpsichord, has been recorded on Cedille Records.
A 2008 Supraphon CD (SU 3944-2) contains two of Hurník's instrumental compositions: the colorful ballet music Ondráš, written in 1951, and his Four Seasons Chamber Suite, written in 1952. Both are performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra led by Karel Ančerl.
He is father of Lukáš Hurník, brother-in-law of Petr Eben and uncle of Marek Eben. Ilja Hurník died in Prague on 7 September 2013 at the age of 90.