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Silvie Bodorova
1954 -
S. Bodorová
Silvie Bodorová (31/12/1954), a female Slowak composer (from Ceske Budejovice). She studied composition at the Janacek Academy in Brno, the Academy of Music in Prague, and the Academia Chigiana. Since the 1980s her works have been performed worldwide and as far as the Antarctic, where her elegy for guitar, Homage to Columbus, was performed in 1997. She has won several competition prizes (Mannheim, Czech Radio Prague) and received numerous commissions, the latest from the Warwick Festival for her Terezin Ghetto Requiem. She belongs to the prestigious Czech composer group Quattro.
The group Quattro, founded in 1996, is made up of four composers: Sylvie Bodorová, Lubos Fiser, Zdenek Lukas and Otmar Macha, each belonging to a different generation and representing a different development and artistic approach; though often heading in opposite directions, these artists nonetheless share the same idea of the substance of musical composition and its function in society, and they believe in art being a vitally important "ecology of the soul". Quattro present their music at performances by leading artists. They are guided by their manifesto and by a wish to foster effective contact with their audiences. Quattro devote themselves entirely to composition are therefore able to respond quickly to any inspirational commission. Their approach is to be illustrated by their appearance at a 1997 Prague Spring Festival concert. Works by the members of the Quattro group have most recently been released on a Supraphon Records CD, SU 3272-2 031 "Prague Guitar Concertos". Further concerts, workshops, courses, lectures, recordings and publication of compositions are planned.
Terezin Ghetto Requiem
Composed in:1997
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:Hebrew and Latin liturgical excerpts
In memory of:Czech composers who died in World War II and under the Communist regime
Label(s):Arco Diva UP 0052-2 131
Terezin Ghetto Requiem for baritone and string quartet (1997). Texts: Hebrew and Latin liturgical excerpts. Duration: 16 minutes.
02. Dies Irae
03. Libera me.
Bodorova is one of the Quattro group of composers with (the late) Lubos Fiser, Zdenek Lukas and Otmar Macha.
Author:Arye Kendi
The requiem draws on a true story : musicians among the Terezin ghetto inmates put on some twenty performances of Verdi's requiem during 1943-44,... most of them were eventually destined to die in the death camps.
Source:booklet of cd Arco Diva UP 0052-2 131
Requiem for baritone and string quartet. Length: 16.30
It's clearly designed as a restrained, pared-back requiem, and I think it succeeds, in this form. One recalls Simon Bainbridge's Primo Levi settings, a composer two years older than Bodorova, thus part of that group of artists coming to terms with the holocaust as a wholly historic event. Bodorova, of course, was a lot closer to it. In particular, we must recall that the worst toll on composers perhaps ever, took place in Czechoslovakia with the deportation and murder of Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) (who'd fled to Russia), Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944), Pavel Haas (1899-1944), Hans Krasa (1899-1944), and Gideon Klein (1919-45) who missed a chance to get to his RAM scholarship, and so Radoslav Kvapil's wife informed me, was shot by mistake at the liberation... So this is, in fact, a requiem for Czech composers, virtually a whole generation of the most gifted. After Martinu (1890-1959) and Haba (1893-1973) one looks for the next composer, the Slovakian Alexander Moyzes (1906-84) and Klement Slavicky (1910-99) perhaps, and failing much exposure elsewhere the group of composers around Bodorova. The Communist regime tended to finish off what the Nazi had begun, almost wiping Czech composers off the world map.
It's in three section, the first of which last for 6'55": 'Lacrymosa'. This is an alternating succession for strings and mainly baritone where the singer chants in a Hebraic lament, which at first seems as intense and romantic as anything in Bloch, perhaps rather too large for the quartet. But as it loudens we acclimatise to its raw power. The second movement 'Dies irae' is far busier for the strings, with a repetitive plateau of scherzando work halted finally by the baritone. Finally 'libera me', lasting 6'11", is far more restrained, as one would expect. An undulating figure in the strings accompanies the baritone who initially has far less to do, but who declaims at the end. A moving, harrowing work.
The packaging is minimal, a paper sleeve without any information, and blank CD with a greenish underside. But the trackings and timings are very precisely notated, down to the last second, paradoxically. It's a pity there's no other information, except a wadge of A4 sent in the same package....
Author:Simon Jenner
Terezín Ghetto Requiem is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. It was commissioned with funds from Warwick Arts Foundation to be premiered at the 1998 Warwick and Leamington Festival, and is written for the Skampa String Quartet.
The inspiration for Terezin Ghetto Requiem is based on the twenty performances of Verdi´s Requiem which took place in the Terezin ghetto during 1943 and 1944.
Jewish and Catholic religious texts are juxtaposed to represent the two cultures. Synagogue Chant is used differently in each movement. The quotation of Verdi´s Lacrymosa becomes a theme for canonic work in the strings in the First movement, while the singer creates an independent layer using the synagogue chant Shema Yisrael.
The Second movement is based mostly on the strings, while the voice part uses two short quotations: The Latin "Dies irae" (Dreaded day, that day of ire, when the world shall melt in fire, told by Sibyl and David´s lyre. Fright men´s hearts shall rudely shift, as the Judge through gleaming rift comes each soul to closely sift), from the Catholic requiem mass, and the Hebrew „Redeemer of Israel“ as an exclamation of liberation at the end of the movement.
The Third movement, "Libera me" (Deliver me, O lord, is predominantly calm in mood), and uses the Hebrew quotation "Elokei neshama…" (My God, the soul which you have placed within me is pure.)
The legacy of the holocaust doesn´t belong only to the prisoners and victims, but to all of us who couldn´t or wouldn´t help. I often ask myself how people could allow all that happened in Terezin /Theresienstadt/ and other concentration camps during World War II. If they had known the consequences – including endless lists of the murdered – could or would they have prevented it? Why did they not act?
I had always been afraid to visit the Memorial in Terezin. I had been afraid of the walls, which had witnessed so much. Then I realised that not only did the Nazi „Übermenschen / Supermen kill, not only they did the walls of Terezin strike fear, but that the fear itself, raised in the minds of those living outside the ghetto, too had the power to kill. That´s why I knew I had to accept this commission by Mr Richard Phillips from Warwick Festival. I wanted to honour those who, under the most extreme conditions and in the face of death, found the courage to protest against their torture by means of something as ultimately human as Verdi´s ,i>Requiem.
In September 1997, when my composition was almost finished I too, like the prisoners in 1943/44, heard Verdi´s Requiem at Terezin. I was dwarfed by the walls surrounding the Ghetto: how much humiliation is soaked into them. But when the music started I looked up and felt an extraordinary sense of liberation. And as the music came to an end the small group of survivors gathered in front of the stage were suddenly and magically illuminated by the setting sun.
I would like my composition to assist towards the goal of eternal humanity and tolerance.
Author:Sylvie Bodorova
Contributor:Jiří Štilec
The Quattro group:
Z.Lukas; O.Macha;
S.Bodorova; L.Fiser