* 8/IV/1921 Nová Říše
+ 17/XI/1984 Neu Ulm
Compositores - El Almanaque
el texto en inglés:
Jan Novák was one of the foremost representatives of post-war music in Moravia.
As a student of Vilém Petrželka and Pavel Bořkovec he won a scholarship from the Ježek Foundation, which in late 1947 made it possible for him to make a study visit to the United States. There he studied with Aaron Copland during summer courses in the Berkschire Music Center in Tanglewood and with Bohuslav Martinů in New York. After his return to Czechoslovakia in February of 1948, he established himself as one of the most talented composers of his era.
His years of exile were spent with his family first in Aarhus in Denmark (1968-1969), then in Riva del Garda in Italy (1970-78) and finally in Neu Ulm in Germany (1978-84).
Some of Novák’s most important works include: his nonet Baletti a 9 composed under the influence of Martinů; the cantata Didó (1967), which was compared in a New York review to Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex; the ballets Svatební košile (The Spectre’s Bride 1954) and Aesopia on the texts of Phaedrus’s fables for two pianos and chorus; and his string quartet Quadricinium fidium (1977).
The following are representative of his symphonic works: Philharmonic Dances (1956) dedicated to the then recently founded Brno State Philharmonic, which allude to Leoš Janáček; his first symphony Ludi Symphoniaci I (1977); and Vernalis temporis symphonia (1982), a work commissioned from Aarhus. His final work in this area was his two-part Symphonia bipartita (1983).
His compositions for solo instruments make up a chapter all by themselves. Here we can cite his Capriccio for Cello and Small Orchesta that makes use of jazz and twelve-tone technique (1958).
Novák’s choral works on Latin texts have also found a certain following in the Czechlands, a representative one being his mixed chorus Exercitia mythologica (1968).