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Jan Hanus - Czech Composer

 JAN HANUS (born on May 2nd, 1915 in Prague; died there, on July 30th, 2004) studied composition privately with Otakar Jeremias and at the same time was educated in conducting at Prague Conservatory. Then he worked as an editor and an editor-in-chief in the publishing houses now succeeded by Supraphon. He was a manager of the publishing house of the Czech Music Fund Panton, further on he was active in the Union of Czechoslovak Composers, he was the chairman of the Czech Company for Music Education, a member of the managing committee of ISME (the International Society for Music Education) and the chairman of its Czech section, the vice-chairman of the Czech Music Company, a member of the festival committee of Prague Spring. As an editor he has signed the editions of the collected works of Antonin Dvorak and Zdenek Fibich, he is a co-operator of the critical publication of Leos Janacek's work, etc. In his composer's work Jan Hanus is following up with the Czech Smetana and Dvorak tradition in the traces of his teacher Otakar Jeremias. They both, too, share a sense for the subject relevance of works, a broadminded architectonics, a full to packed orchestral sound and an unfailing musical-dramatic imagination. Hanus's access to compositional tasks is a searching one, that's why the evolutionary line of his production is changing, always aiming at new conceptions. Nevertheless there are no violent ups and downs in Mr Hanus's work: his idiom includes constant elements, especially in melodics, rhythmics and instrumentation, which pass all phases of his composer's development. Hanus's young production had its dominants in passionately pathetic, philosophic and patriotic aims, such his opera The Flames. The first post-war decade witnessed lyricism, near to national tradition (2nd Symphony, The Czech Year), since the late fifties have been evident a new tendency to a dramatic view of the world and a musically expressive innovation (3rd Symphony), reaching as far as the combination of traditional means of expression with the electronics (esp. in the opera The Torch of Prometheus). The seventies and eighties are the period of synthesis of all his preceding advances, and their improved utilization. Jan Hanus has always aimed at emphasizing the great spiritual values of Czech and foreign cultures and thus we find in his compositions messages of the antiquity, the Renaissance, popular culture and also the stimulations from modern times. It holds good especially of his scenic work, cantata, chorus and song production, but of his many instrumental compositions as well, e.g. his Suita drammatica for string quartet is a preliminary study for the opera The Torch of Prometheus, based on the theme of Aischylos, Night Divertimento for two string trios is inspired by the poetry of Jaroslav Seifert, etc. Jan Hanus's symphonies, too, in a way reflect the reality of the world and the human society. There are, however, even a number of compositions lacking outward stimulation: in those the author exploits his pure musical imagery and indulges in the pleasure and an absolutely independent and whole-hearted personal inspiration. He returned all the state awards in November 1989.




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