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Jaroslav Jezek

born: 1906-09-25
died: 1942-01-01
birthplace: Praha
diedplace: New York

Czech composer, pianist and dramaturgist. Since early childhood he suffered from a serious eye desease; that is why he attended school for the blind. In addition, after another desease he got almost deaf. Despite poor health, he was unbeleavably vital and hardworking. He studied composition at the Conservatory of Prague under prof.Jirak in 1923-27. After finishing the studies as one of the most tallented students, he went on studying the Masters School under Josef Suk. He also got a half-year scholarship in Paris in 1927. During his school years he met a lot of avant-garde artists of different areas. He was a member of the Literary Society "Devetsil". He first performed in public in 1926 in the small theatre of E.F.Burian; he improvized on piano taking motives from the audience. At the same time, one of the most famous small theatres was founded as a part of Devetsil activities, called Osvobozene divadlo (Liberated Theatre). Jezek met Mr. Werich and Mr. Voskovec there and became the exclusive composer and theatre orchestra conductor for the next 10 years. He wrote a number of songs and popular compositions there, many of which became evergreens. Besides, Jezek still went on writing classical compositions. Originally inspired by Stravinskij, Les Six of Paris, Schoenberg, Gershwin, influenced by neo-classicism, he developed a very individual style which made him one of the most avant-garde Czech composers of the time, together with A.Haba. After occupation of the Czech Republic by Nazis, the Liberated Theatre was closed (as the latest plays were an open critique of the oncoming fascism) and Jezek was forced to emigrate to the USA together with Voskovec and Werich. He taught piano, lead the Czechoslovak Choir and composed. Unfortunately, his poor health betrayed him on top of his creative powers. Already dying, he married his beloved friend Francis who, after the end of World War II, brought his ashes back to Prague to be buried an the family grave at the Olsany Cemetery.

  • Vocal writings
    • Song cycles, occasional choral works
  • Chamber works
    • Serenade for the Wind Quartet , 1929
    • 2 String Quartets (1932, 1941)
    • Wind Quintet , 1931
    • Sonata for Violin and Piano , 1933
    • Duo for 2 Violins , 1934
  • Piano works
    • Suite for quartertone piano , 1926
    • Sonatina , 1928
    • Capriccio , 1932
    • Etuda, Bagatelles , 1933
    • Rhapsody , 1938
    • Toccata , 1939
    • Piano Sonata , 1941
  • Orchestral works and concertos
    • Concert for piano and orchestra , 1927
    • Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra , 1930
    • Concert for Violin and Wind Orchestra , 1931
    • Symphonic Poem , 1936
  • Musical-Dramatic Works
    • music and songs for 20 plays/revues of the Liberated Theatre
    • Music for 7 movies (incl. Powder and Petrol, The World Belongs to Us,...)
    • ballet Nerves , 1928


Mala encyklopedie hudby/Little Encyclopedia of Music (dr. Jar. Smolka; &col., Supraphon 1983)
Kniha o hudbe/Book of Music (V.Holzknecht and col., Orbis 1964)

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Last update 2012-07-09