Slovak Violin Concertos

Eugen Suchon

(September 25, 1908 – August 5, 1993) was one of the most important Slovak composers of the 20th century.

 Early life

Eugen Suchoň was born on September 25, 1908 in Pezinok, (Slovakia). His father, Ladislav Suchoň, was an organist and teacher. His mother, Serafína Suchoňová, was a piano teacher, and it was from her that he received his first piano tuition. The house was always filled with music and, as a small child, he would listen from under the piano when his father rehearsed at home with other musicians. In 1920, at the age of twelve, he started taking piano lessons at the Bratislava School of Music with the distinguished musician Frico Kafenda. Later, from 1927 to 1931, he continued his studies with the same teacher at the newly established Academy of Music in Bratislava. His early works include several piano compositions and a choral work Veľky Pôst (The Great Fast). He graduated from his composition classes with the Sonata in A-flat for Violin and Piano and a String Quartet (op. 2, 1931, revised 1939). His two year studies at the Prague Conservatoire under Vítězslav Novák set the seal on the thorough training he had received from Kafenda.suchon

Compositions from this period include a Piano Quartet (1933), and the song cycle Nox et solitudo for mezzo soprano and small orchestra or piano (1932) based on a poem by Ivan Krasko, Little Suite with Passacaglia for piano (1930, orchestrated in 1967), Serenade for Brass Quintet and the Burlesque for Violin and Orchestra. All these works show an already distinguished and mature composer. During this time Eugen Suchoň taught music theory at the Academy of Music and Drama in Bratislava (1933). His works from this period are in a late Romantic idiom with elements of folk modality combined with chromaticism. In particular the popular male choral cycle O horách (“Of mountains”) was a seminal work which established a Slovak national style. This was followed by his monumental cantata, The Psalm of the Sub-Carpathian Land (1938). Many folksong arrangements date from this period, which culminated in his opera Krútňava (The Whirlpool, 1949).

Middle years

The success of Krútňava established modern Slovak opera, and drew international attention. From 1948 to 1960 Suchoň was professor and head of the Department of Music Education at the Teacher Training College in Bratislava. Works from this period include the Fantasies for Violin and Orchestra, Metamorphoses for piano, and the Symphonic Suite for grand orchestra. Suchoň became heavily involved in the practical and theoretical aspects of music education. Of particular significance was his second opera Kraľ Svätopluk (“King Svätopluk”), completed in 1959. This historic opera represents the monumental dramatic fresco from the period of the Great Moravian Empire. It is a large-scale work with noble aspirations, displaying Slavic motifs and culminating in the victory of good over evil. The work was premiered in Bratislava in 1960, and performed the same year in Prague and Košice.

Later years

From 1959 to 1974 he was professor of music theory at Bratislava University. His style changed as he incorporated serialism into his compositions. Harmonies emphasizing 2nds, 4ths and 7ths led to polymodality. His later output consists predominantly of chamber and orchestral works, e. g., the song cycle Ad astra (1961), based on poems by Štefan Žáry, the mixed choir cycle O človeku (“On Man”), the Poème macabre for violin and piano, Contemplations for narrator and piano, Six Compositions for Strings, the Rhapsodic Suite for piano and orchestra and the Symfonická fantasia na BACH (1971). His piano cycle Kaleidoscope also exists in a version for piano, string orchestra and percussion. His last works include a Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra, Elegy, Toccata, and the song cycles Glimpse into the Unknown and Three Songs for Bass.

Suchoň died in Bratislava in 1993.


Alexander Moyzes

(September 4, 1906 – November 20, 1984), was a Slovak 20th-century neoromantic composer.

Moyzes was born into a musical family in 1906 at Kláštor pod Znievom in present Slovakia. His father was the composer and educator Mikuláš Moyzes. After earlier technical studies, in 1925 he entered the Prague Conservatory, where he studied organ, conducting and composition. He graduated in 1929 and went on to study in the master class of Vítězslav Novák, from which he graduated in the following year with his Overture for Orchestra, Opus 10. It was Novák who directed his attention to Slovak music, the source of his inspiration.Alexander_Moyzes

In 1929, Moyzes was appointed to the teaching staff of the Music and Drama Academy for Slovakia in Bratislava. He became professor of composition at the Bratislava Conservatory in 1941 and spent a number of years as principal music advisor to Radio Bratislava, until compelled to resign in 1948. On its foundation he was appointed professor of composition at the Bratislava Music Academy, where he taught no less than three generations of Slovak composers. He headed the Academy as Rector from 1965 until 1971, and over the years undertook many important functions in the musical life of his country. He died in Bratislava.

With Eugen Suchoň and Ján Cikker, Alexander Moyzes is considered one of the three leading composers of his generation in Slovakia. He succeeded in creating a style of composition that was thoroughly Slovak in inspiration, yet nevertheless took account of contemporary trends in European music, a synthesis that he was to consolidate in his later years.


Dezider Kardoš

(* 23 December 1914 – † 18 March 1991), was Slovak composer, one of the main representatives of modern Slovak classical music. He was awarded the title National Artist in 1975, in 2006 was matriculated into the Gold Book of the Slovak Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (SOZA).

After finishing the high school (1933), he studied at the Music and Drama Academy where he attended courses of composition of Alexander Moyzes and at the same time attended the lectures in musicology, aesthetics and arts history at the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University. Kardoš graduated in 1937 and resumed his studies Master’s School of the Prague Conservatory up to 1939, where he was a student of Vítězslav Novák. From 1939 to 1945 he was head of the Slovak Radio Music Department in Prešov, from 1945 to 1951 head of the Czechoslovak Radio Music Department in Košice and since 1951 in Bratislava. In 1952 he became the first director of the Slovak Philharmonic. In the years 1955–1963 he was the president of the Slovak Composers Union. Kardoš was also a successful tutor of composition, from 1961 to 1984 he taught at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (since 1968 as professor of composition). He was the founder of modern symphonisme. HE was one of the most important composers of the 20th century, forming the foundation of the Slovak music culture. It has its place in the forefront of modern Slovak symfonizme. The original production, which encompass almost all music genres, based on two sources of inspiration – from the Slovak national music and modern world. Dynamic process, unique instrumentation, vigorously, resolute and ardent lyricism, a sense of peace and perfection of construction are the hallmarks of his works, which belong to the permanent values of European music. For his work, he was in 1975 awarded the title of National Artist.