Symphony No. 7, Op. 153 for symphony orchestra and concertante marimba
The composer, conductor, choirmaster, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer Jaroslav Krček has been active in the fields of classical and folk music and its popularisation for more than half a century. For many years, besides composing, his primary areas of interest have been the music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods and folklore. From 1954 to 1959 Krček studied cello under Václav Beran at a music school in České Budějovice, then he was admitted to the third year of study at the Prague Conservatoire, where from 1959 to 1962 he studied composition under Miloslav Kabeláč and conducting under Bohumír Liška. During his studies in Prague, he collaborated with the Josef Vycpálek Song and Dance Ensemble, and from 1962 he served as the director of musical programming, first for Czechoslovak Radio in Pilsen, then for the music publisher Supraphon. From the early 1960s he conducted the Czechoslovak Radio Chamber Orchestra in Pilsen, he was the choirmaster of the Czech Song Mixed Choir, and he also collaborated with the folklore ensemble Úsměv (Smile) from Horní Bříza. His strong interest in Czech folk music, in new music in the folk style, and in Czech music from earlier times led him to establish the music and dance ensemble Chorea Bohemica (1967) and later on the ensemble Musica Bohemica (1975), which he still conducts, serving as its artistic director. He is also an experienced singer, and he plays many different instruments, making some of them himself specifically for use in his ensemble.
From the turn of the 1970s and ’80s, Jaroslav Krček successfully established enduring relationships with professional music ensembles, and he also made a major contribution to the advancement of amateur music making in this country. Many of his folksong arrangements are very popular with school choirs and amateur ensembles for all age categories, and Krček’s efforts have also brought the music of earlier periods to the awareness of these performers. His systematic work with Chorea Bohemica and Musica Bohemica has had a major influence on the music education of young people in this country. Hundreds of educational concerts and performances have inspired choirs and instrumental ensembles to perform music from earlier times, and Krček was a powerful force shaping a new understanding of folk music and early music by performers and listeners alike. In 2019, he was honoured by the Czech Ministry of Culture for these activities.
In parallel with his interest in early music and folk music, he has also pursued a different line of activity, composing symphonic, chamber, and vocal music of his own. Besides his countless arrangements of folk songs, and dances, he has composed works in a wide range of genres. Among his most important works are nine symphonies, cantatas, and oratorios (O lux mundi, 1985; The One Who Is, Op. 137, 2009; Creed of the Master John, Op. 150, 2014 etc.), melodramas, ballets and dance frescoes, operas (The Prostitute Rahab, Op. 36, 1971; In the Shadow of the Cross, Op. 129, 2005; Clothes Like the World Has Never Seen, Op. 139, 2010; Behind the Curtain of Time, Op. 146, 2013), and sacred music. In 1971 his electronic opera The Prostitute Rahab (Nevěstka Raab) won a prize at an international composition competition in Geneva, and he won the top prize several times at the competition Prix de musique folklorique de Radio Bratislava. He has been equally prolific in his activities as a conductor and a music producer.
As a composer, he has strong opinions that are not influenced by changing fashions, and all his life he has strived to make his music an adornment of life that brings satisfaction and elevates the spirit. Above all, he wants his music to captivate listeners. This is true of the work being premiered today, the four-movement Symphony No. 7 for symphony orchestra and solo marimba, Op. 153, which was completed in January 2015 and is one of the composer’s shorter symphonic works.