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Ladislav Holoubek Photo: Ondrej Béreš

Ladislav Holoubek

(13. 8. 1913 Praha – 4. 9. 1994 Bratislava)


classical music: composition, conducting

CV

1927 finished grammar school in Trnava
1927 – 1933 Music and Drama Academy in Bratislava (piano – E. Križan, later conducting with Josef Vincourek and composing with Alexander Moyzes)
1933 – 1952 conductor of the Slovak National Theatre
1934 – 1936 Master School of the Prague Conservatory (composing – Vítězslav Novák)
1952 – 1955 conductor of the Army Arts Ensemble in Bratislava
1955 – 1958 artistic director and conductor of the State Opera in Košice
1958 – 1966 conductor of the Slovak National Theatre
1966 – 1976 artistic director and conductor of the State Opera in Košice (conductor until 1981)

“Artistic life of L. Holoubek was from the beginning divided into two basic orientations: the focus of his activities was conducting, but with great enthusiasm he also dealt with composing, which brought numerous results. The original opus numbers of his compositions at the end of his life have been altered, but not according to the chronology of their creation. The peculiarity of his work is tunefulness and transparent processing of musical material, which develops along the lines of Classical-Romantic forms but harmoniously also enriches his story of modern sound combinations, which provides twelve-tone methods, naturally, in a looser concept. His entire musical thinking is greatly influenced by romanticism and impressionism, which is most successfully applied in his vocal music. The accompaniment of his songs was produced in two versions: piano and orchestral. His song cycle Dcérenka moja / My Daughter earned general appreciation – with peaceful themes and emotional content in the 1950s and 1960s it became the most frequented of Holoubek's work. The cycles K ľudu! / To The People! on poetry by P. O. Hviezdoslav, Hviezdy na vodách / Stars In The Waters; Spevy jesene / Fall singing; Panpulóni and others also saw success. He found ideas and inspiration in the poetry of several Slovak poets. Focusing on the sung word aroused from the beginning of his artistic career the idea that the composer would be devoted to the opera genre. Daily contact with the opera encouraged his creative ambitions beginning at a relatively young age – his opera Stella was created shortly after he passed the age of 20. Accepting comments on the libretto, he worked through the opera in later years. Holoubek expressed his protest against the extinction of the interwar Czechoslovak Republic in the opera Svitanie / Daylight on a libretto by J. Elen-Kaiser about the violent Hungarianization of Slovak children. Even his next opera Túžba / Desire was a fabulous story by librettist F. Gabaj which ladled into Slovak folklore. The slowness and certain complexity of the plot makes it difficult to understand this work. In the postwar period Holoubek was interested in the play by I. Prachař Domov je u nás / Home Is With Us. Although the play is missing features of an opera libretto, the author edited the literary work and wrote a rich libretto, which respects the essential criteria of the opera genre. The professional press evaluated the resulting opera Rodina / Family with appreciation, but it was the first and last performance. The other opera – Profesor Mamlock – returns to the theme of the victims of fascism. This is Holoubek's best opera, although it was a current story and therefore despite being depicted by masterful the compositional act of an experienced author it does not exceed the sphere of the interest of his generation. It has remained, however, a valuable document of the evolution of Slovak opera culture. The sixth and last of Holoubek's operas is the comic opera Bačovské žarty / Shepherd's Jokes. It was created to his own libretto, but its quality did not achieve the artistic quality of excellent music.

In addition to his song cycles, Holoubek created several successful instrumental compositions. Remarkable are Variácie na vlastnú tému / Variations On Our Theme for the orchestra, which was introduced by the new Slovak Philharmonic under conductor V. Talich. Also, Genezis / Genesis is an outstanding work for baritone, mixed choir and large orchestra on a poem by M. Rúfus.”

 

(PALOVČÍK, Michal: Ladislav Holoubek. In: 100 slovenských skladateľov. Ed. Marián Jurík, Peter Zagar. Bratislava : Národné hudobné centrum, 1998, p. 122 – 123.)