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Kaleb J. Koslowski and Caryl Clark

(b Bad Iburg near Osnabrück, 30 Oct 1668; d Hanover, 1 Feb 1705). Princess of Hanover, Electress of Brandenburg, and Queen in Prussia. Musical culture in and around Berlin flourished at the turn of the 18th century as a direct result of her activities as a musical patron, performer, composer, and collector.

Sophie Charlotte was the only daughter of Ernst August of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Sophie of the Palatinate. She was thrust into a lifestyle of courtly competition from an early age. The court at Osnabrück was relatively obscure, overshadowed by the wealthier and more politically prominent seat at Hanover ruled by her father’s brother, Johann Friedrich. Her mother determined to overcome this by immersing Sophie Charlotte in the arts. As a child she received instruction in singing, courtly dance, and religion, and in French, Italian, English, and Latin. During the 1670s and into the 1680s, the family visited Versailles, Venice, Brussels, and The Hague. These visits included recurring attendance at opera and ballet performances, and provided the foundation for Sophie Charlotte’s cultivation of music as a courtly and sociopolitical tool later at Hanover and Berlin....

Article

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Geoffrey Chew

(b Prague, 23 June 1914; d Prague, 8 Feb 1945). Czech musicologist, violinist, and music critic. After studying law and arts at Prague University, and the violin at the Prague Conservatoire (1933–7), he became a member of the Czech Philharmonic and of the Pro Arte Antiqua ensemble, and was very active as journalist and critic, editing and writing for Hudební věstník and Smetana, besides contributing articles on musical subjects during the German occupation to České slovo, the party organ of the patriotic, moderate-socialist Česká strana národně sociální. As a musicologist he was wide-ranging, writing on 18th-century music, preparing a catalogue of Dvořák’s works and editing 20th-century Czech operas, besides the items listed below. A provocative review in České slovo of a Smetana concert in 1945 led to his being arrested, tortured, and executed by the German occupying authorities.

(selective list)

ed. and trans.: Vlastní životopis V. I. Tomáška...

Article

(b Hamburg, 14 Nov 1805; d Berlin, 14 May 1847). German composer, pianist, and salon hostess. Fanny Hensel was one of the most prolific female composers of the 19th century, among the first women to write a string quartet, and a life-long proponent of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and her brother, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Hensel was a pianist of rare talent and prodigious memory who dazzled private audiences at her concert series in her Berlin home. She struggled her entire life with the conflicting impulses of authorship versus the social expectations for her high-class status, finally deciding to publish her music only one year before her early death at the age of 41; her hesitation was variously a result of her dutiful attitude towards her father, her intense relationship with her brother, and her awareness of contemporary social thought on women in the public sphere. Hensel’s music reflects her deep reverence for Bach especially, as well as for Beethoven, but also exhibits the fine craftsmanship and lyricism typical of the post-Classical Mendelssohnian style, and her own experimental and inventive approach to form and content. During her lifetime, Hensel’s career, conducted mostly in the private sphere, was overshadowed by the more public exploits of her brother. The true extent of her compositions (over 450 completed compositions and drafts) and her contributions to the Mendelssohnian style have been rediscovered and appreciated in the late 20th and early 21st centuries....

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Kyjov, 15 June 1981). Czech clarinetist. Studied at the Brno Conservatory with Břetislav Winkler and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) with Jiří Hlaváč and Vlastimil Mareš, where he completed his PhD dissertation on the topic of the clarinet concerto repertoire in the 20th century. He also spent an important year with Michel Arrignon at the Paris Conservatoire.

He performs classical repertoire with the pianists Martin Kasík, Ivo Kahánek, and Daniel Wiesner and contemporary music with the Ostravská banda and the Berg Orchestra. Though most active as a performer of classical and contemporary music, he is also involved in several multi-genre projects, such as Irvin_Epoque with the Epoque Quartet, which mixes folk, jazz, and composed music, or JA-RA-LAJ, a solo CD inspired by Romani music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

He has performed at festivals including Mitte Europa, the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades, Mozart, der Europäer Mannheim, Prague Spring, Dvořák’s Prague, and others, and with conductors, including Radovan Vlatkovič, Zakhar Bron, Peter Czaba, Igor Ardašev, and ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Prague, 5 Feb 1978). Czech oboist. He studied at the Prague Conservatory with František Xaver Thuri, at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague with Liběna Séquardtová, and at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin with Dominik Wollenweber. His time in Germany was particularly fruitful thanks to two years in the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchester, followed by a further two years as a Karajan scholar in the Berlin Philharmonic. He is a laureate of the 7th Competition of Tokyo by the Sony Music Foundation and of Concertino Praha.

As a soloist, he has worked with most of the major orchestras in the Czech Republic, as well as the Tokyo Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bayerisches Kammerorchester, Münchener Kammerorchester, Kraków Philharmonic, and others. He is the solo oboist with the Brno Philharmonic and a founding member of the PhilHarmonia Octet and Ensemble Berlin-Prague.

In 2010 he founded the Isang Yun Trio (with Kateřina Engelchová on harp and Petr Nouzovský on cello), which is dedicated to performing the chamber music cataloge of the Korean composer (including several world premières), as well as other contemporary repertoire. Veverka is also a champion of contemporary Czech music, including premières of pieces by Pavel Zemek-Novák, ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Prague, 12 June 1975). Czech composer and violist. He studied the viola (1989–95) and composition (1992–6) at the Prague Conservatory, then composition at HAMU with Marek Kopelent (1997–2003). In 2002 he co-founded the composers’ collective Konvergence, and since 2010 he has taught composition and music theory at the Deyl Conservatory in Prague. His work is composed predominantly for chamber instrumental forces, often utilizing spatialization of the musicians (Šeptet, prop.A.S.ti, Notturno fragile). His music has been performed by ensembles such as the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Ensemble Bern Modern, Moens Ensemble, Ensemble Platypus Wien, Berg Orchestra, and Brno Contemporary Orchestra, and by soloists including Karel Dohnal, Petr Nouzovský, Cécile Boiffin, and Iris Gerber.

Over the last 15 years, his music has followed a general process of reduction of materials and a distancing from drama, focusing on the ephemeral, the whispered, and the epiphenomenal, but using these to approach elementary ideas of communication and emotion in music....

Article

Pavla Jonssonová

(b 22 July 1958, Bruntál in Czechoslovakia). Czech vocalist, violinist, composer, and actress..Bittová grew up in a musical family and with sisters Ida and Regina often accompanied her father, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Koloman Bitto. She gave up playing violin at the age of fourteen and so her mother, a choir singer and teacher, enrolled her to study acting at Brno Conservatory. In 1978, Bittová became a member of the avant garde theatre Husa na provázku (Goose on a String), starring as Eržika in the popular musical Balada pro banditu (Ballad for a Bandit). She also began her film acting career at this time. She quit her theatre career in 1982 to fulfill her father’s wishes and restarted her study of the violin under Rudolf Šťastný of the Moravian String Quartet. Enabled by her theatrical professionalism, improvisational skills, command of pitch, and purity of tone, Bittová developed a unique performance style consisting of combining the voice and the violin. This avant garde interplay of violin and extended vocalization techniques (ranging from primordial and nature-inspired clicking, screeching and ululating to folkloristic tunes) shocked her audiences. In ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Frýdek-Místek, 30 March 1980). Czech composer and guitarist. He studied singing and composition at the Ostrava Conservatory and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno with Martin Smolka, with whom he completed the PhD in 2014. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague (with Louis Andriessen and Clarence Barlow), the Matej Bel University in Bánská Bystrica, CalArts (with David Rosenboom), and the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

His work’s penchant for drama and rhythmic drive betrays influences of both rock music and American minimalism. His harmonies are mostly dissonant, which, together with the use of fractured, grating, or fragile sounds, creates an unusual aesthetic. His work with more indeterminate types of notation, however, has led to a looser, more environmental conception of rhythm (The Book of Sand, The Book of Earth).

He has led the Dunami Ensemble since its foundation in ...