14 June 1930
Ostrava, Ostrava-město, Moravskoslezský kraj, Czech Republic
6 May 2005 (aged 74)
The composer Josef Ceremuga started to learn the violin at the age of eleven at the Janacek School of Music in Ostrava-Vitkovice simultaneously with his studies at a secondary school. Upon graduating, he studied composition at the Faculty of Music of the Prague Academy of Perfoming Arts in the class of Jaroslav Ridky and Vaclav Dobias, and quarter-tone music with Alois Haba. After graduation he became one of the first post-graduate students at the Academy (1953 - 1956). Soon he assumed a prominent place in Czech musical culture not only as a composer, but also as an employee of important institutions. In 1967 he was named assistant professor at the Film Faculty of the Academy of Arts and Music where he was already active in the cabinet of sound composition. Since 1960 he was teaching at the Film Faculty of the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the cabinet of sound composition, between 1969 -1974 he was appointed Dean of that Faculty. Since 1980 he was a teacher at the Faculty of Music of the Academy, since 1982 as Professor of composition (until 1990). In 1981 he received the title 'Artist of Merit'. After "The Velvet Revolution" (1989) Ceremuga withdrew from the life in the public and ceased to compose, mainly due to his illness (he lost his sight). Josef Ceremuga's creation undergoes continuous development without distinct watersheds. He started off from the then still living Moravian folk music tradition and, in this connection, he was inspired by the works of Janacek and Martinu. He added to that basis creative mastery and development of the legacy of Smetana and Dvorak, as well as some 20th century world classics - above all Prokofyev. In particular, he devolped melodies to new shapes. His creation is centred round broad-range lyrics, and that is in harmony with the second aspect of Ceremuga's creation - natural and spontaneous musicality. For this reason his music is close to listeners, and most of his compositions saw many repetitions. A number of compositions were published and gramophone recorded. Some were awarded prizes. Several of his works achieved great success abroad including his Symphony No. 3, String Quartet No. 3, Quintet for Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Flute and Oboe and the Prague Symfonietta. These were played almost in the whole of Europe, some of them in the USA. An important outlet for his compositional activity is his creation for film and television (also for Iceland, Italy, and the FRG) which always carries all traits of Ceremuga's multifaceted personality.
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