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Marta Ottlová, Milan Pospíšil, John Tyrrell and Kelly St Pierre


(b Leitomischl, Bohemia [now Litomyšl, Czech Republic], 2 March 1824; d Prague, 12 May 1884). Czech composer, conductor, teacher, and music critic often described as the ‘father’ or ‘inventor’ of Czech national music. While his first language was German and his first nationalist compositions were based on Swedish narratives, Smetana asserted himself as composer of specifically Czech music from the 1860s, and his music posthumously became synonymous with a Czech national musical style. Today, Smetana’s eight operas, including Prodaná nevěsta (‘The Bartered Bride’), as well as his cycle of symphonic poems Má vlast (‘My Fatherland’) form the foundation of the Czech classical musical canon. His opera Libuše is also frequently cited as an ‘apotheosis’ of Czech music, especially in conjunction with the first movement of Má vlast, entitled ‘Vyšehrad’.

After his death, Smetana was transformed in the minds of his audiences and advocates from a composer of nationalistic music to a national symbol himself; he and his works became enduring points of reference for Czechs’ ever-shifting borders, politics, administrations, ethnicities, and imagined futures through the 20th century. For this reason, the actual Smetana in many ways has become inseparable from the myth of ‘Smetana’, as later critics and historians molded his life and work to match their needs. The composer’s supposed greatness, genius, Czechness, tragic deafness, and heroism all give voice to the shifting needs, anxieties, and interests of his audiences as much as to the composer himself....


Erik Levi

(b Tauberbischofsheim, Baden, Feb 10, 1879; d Herrsching am Ammersee, 2/June 3, 1968). German composer, conductor and critic. He was a pupil of Iwan Knorr at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt (1894–5) and Joseph Rheinberger at the Munich Academy (1896–9). After his studies Trunk settled in Munich where he pursued a career as an accompanist, private teacher, conductor of various choral societies and critic of the Münchner Post (1907–12). In 1912 he went to New York to serve as conductor of the Arion choral and orchestral society, returning to Munich just after the outbreak of World War I. From 1916 to 1922 he wrote music criticism for the Bayerische Staatszeitung. In 1925 he was appointed director of the Rheinische Musikschule Cologne and professor at the Staatliche Hochschule, and remained extremely active as the conductor of the Männergesangverein. Trunk returned to Bavaria in ...


Kathleen Dale

revised by Robert Layton


(b Göteborg, May 30, 1853; d Stockholm, April 1, 1918). Swedish composer, critic and conductor. At Uppsala University he studied music with J.A. Josephson (1873–9), and after attending the conservatory and university in Leipzig (1879–84), he took the doctorate at the university with a thesis on Swedish folksongs. He then settled at Göteborg, became music critic of the Göteborgs handelstidning and re-established the Harmonic Society in 1886, which he conducted until 1897, performing many large works for chorus and orchestra. He gave lectures in music history and conducted concerts of the workmen's institute. In 1897 he went to Stockholm, where he was critic of Svenska dagbladet until 1902 and teacher of music history at the conservatory (professor from 1912). He was elected a member of the music academy in 1897 (appointed secretary in 1901) and gave many public lectures on music.

Valentin first attracted attention as a composer at Leipzig in ...


Adam Mrygoń

(b Kroczyce in Miechów district, Nov 27, 1893; d Kraków, May 12, 1963). Polish composer, conductor and critic. He studied successively at the Conservatory of the Kraków Music Society, the Dalcroze Institute at Hellerau near Dresden, the St Petersburg Conservatory and the Paris Schola Cantorum. In 1931 he took examinations as an external candidate in composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. From 1921 he taught in Poznań, first at the Academy, then, from 1923, at the Conservatory. From 1921 to 1939 he was also active as a choral conductor, working in particular with the Koło Śpiewackie Polskie (singing society) and the Chopin and Moniuszko choirs. From 1945 he was a professor at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków.

During the inter-war period he was chief editor of Przegląd muzyczny and music reviewer for the Kurier poznański and Muzyka polska. From 1946 he edited the series Polska Literatura Chóralna published by the Polish Music Publishers (PWM). He was a founding member, and vice-chairman, of the Society of Young Polish Musicians in Paris (...


(b Moscow, 19/Dec 31, 1875; d Kharkiv, Jan 19, 1933). Ukrainian composer, conductor and critic. A graduate of Kiev University (1903) he studied music privately with E. Ryb and worked as a conductor and critic in Kiev until 1910. He then continued these activities in St Petersburg and then Moscow where he conducted at the Zimin Private Opera (1916–17). In 1918 he settled in Kharkiv where he added teaching (at the Musical Dramatic Institute) to his activities. His opera Vybukh (‘Explosion’) was the first Ukrainian opera on a revolutionary theme, while his last opera, Duma chornomors′ka (‘Duma of the Black Sea’), is a grand opera based on Ukrainian folk music and is dedicated to Verdi. Polish and Turkish materials are also used to characterize the various national elements of the plot.

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