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Alliance Publications

Joel Blahnik, Czech music composer, conductor, writer, and researcher. Alliance Publications, Inc.

Otmar Mácha

Music Catalog Below Bio

Otmar Mácha was a Czech composer born October 2, 1922 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He was one of the leading pupils of Řidký at the Prague Conservatory (1945-1948). From 1947 he was music director and dramaturgist for Prague Radio until 1962 when he became a full-time composer. He was appointed secretary of the Czech Composers’ Union in the mid-1940’s.

His early compositions from the end of World War II are deeply romantic. There is a strong feeling for folk style in the song cycles of 1945-1947, but the sonatas for violin and cello that followed are harder and harmonically more adventurous. He became known to the musical public in the middle of the 1950’s with his oratorio composition, The legacy of J. A. Komenský (Comenius) (1955), in which he used Moravian folk intonations in an understandable and simple musical language. —Later on he achieved a completely characteristic expression especially in the symphonic poem “Noc a naděje”/”Night and Hope” (1959) and in Variations on Theme and Death of Jan Rychlík for Orchestra (1964) for symphonic orchestra which were performed abroad several times with exceptional success. “Symfonietta No. 1” (1971) and the symphonic poem “Noc a naděje”/”Night and Hope”, which won prizes at the 1960 Jubilee Competition, are of greater originality though the Variations on Theme and Death of Jan Rychlík for Orchestra again draw on folk music. This is not the case in his two stage works: Polapená nevěra/Infidelity Unmasked (1957), a piece based on 17th Century Czech farces and showing a keen sense of characterization, and Jezero Ukereve/Lake Ukereve (1963). The latter is a powerful piece in which, against the violent background of the colonization of Africa, German doctors and biologists unsuccessfully attempt to combat an epidemic of sleeping sickness. —The score makes an interesting use of tapes within the orchestral texture.

The principal starting point for Mácha’’s symphonic, chamber, vocal and dramatic music has been and remains the tradition of Czech music from the first half of the 20th Century. He developed in the frame of a more generally understandable and approachable musical language which was in the course of time enriched by new possibilities offered to music by the development in the third quarter of the 20th Century. The pieces, “Four Monologues to the lyrics of F. X. Salda” (1965-66) and “Lasske heleckacky,” a song cycle of mountain songs for SSAA, received awards in the Jubilee Competition for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution (1967) and in the Jihlava International Choral Competition (1973). “Hoj, hura, hoj” and “Ho-ja-ja, ho-ja-ja” are two songs from this award winning song cycle of mountain songs for SSAA, “Lasske helekacky” published by Alliance Publications, Inc., Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. The Prague Philharmonic Children’’s Choir under the direction of Jiří Chvala have recorded and performed Mácha’’s choral works with great success on their European and American tours.

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