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Petr Eben

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Petr Eben (22 Jan 1929 Žamberk-24 Oct 2007 Praha) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. A large amount of his works represents sacred music and music for organ.


He was born in Žamberk, but spent his youth in the medieval South-Bohemian town Český Krumlov. In that town he studied piano, later violoncello and organ. After hard years of the German occupation and the war, during which his whole family suffered, he entered the Prague Academy of Music (piano with F. Rauch and composition with Pavel Borkovec). As early as 1955 he took up a teaching post in the History of Music Department at Prague’s Charles University. In 1978-79 he was professor of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music Manchester. From 1990 he became professor of composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and President of the Prague Spring Festival. He is active as a performing artist, especially as an improviser on piano and organ (concerts in London - RFH and Westminster Cathedral, Paris - Notre Dame and Festivals in Melbourne, Edinburgh, Vienna, Berlin, USA), but his main activity is composing. Two main sources of his inspiration are the plain chant and the folk songs.

He has written a large number of varied works in all genres, the oratory Apologia Socratus, the ballet Curses and Blessings, written for the Holland Festival 1983, the Concert Symphony Night Hours for Leipzig, Prague Nocturne for the Vienna Philharmonic, the 2nd Organ Concerto for the opening of the new organ of Radio Vienna, Missa cum populo for the Avignon Festival, the oratory Sacred Symbols for the Salzburg Cathedral, the Church-Opera “Jeremias” and more.

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