updated 10 November 2020
© Anna Smolka

Martin Smolka

Czech composer born 1959 in Prague.

Martin Smolka studied composition with Jiri Pauer and Ctirad Kohoutek at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and privately with Marek Kopelent. His work has variously been categorised as “post-Webernian,” minimalist, microtonal, American experimental, and belonging to the “Polish School”.

In 1983, along with Miroslav Pudlák and Petr Kofroň, he co-founded Ensemble Agon, a group specialising in the performance of unconventional contemporary music. He was artistic director and pianist for the group from its inception until 1998. The ensemble has played an important role in bringing internationally significant works to Czech audiences. Through a series of projects with the group, Smolka undertook research on both the microtonal music of the students of Aloïs Hàba, and on the music scene in Prague in the 1960s.

In the 1990s, Smolka became interested in unusual and unconventional instrumental techniques and sound sources (detuned instruments, gramophones, “junk” objects, the instruments and harmonic system of Harry Partch, etc.), with the objective of integrating natural and “urban” sounds into his works. He considers some of his compositions from this time to be “sonic photographs;” for example, L’Orch pour L’Orch is a sonic image of the nighttime in a railway marshalling yard.

He later focused on elements from traditional music, which he transformed according to microtonal harmonic patterns and reassembled into sonic collages, as in Remix, Redream, Reflight.

Martin Smolka has received commissions from ensembles such as 2e2m, Arditti Quartet, and Neue Vokalisten. His works have been performed in festivals including Warsaw Autumn (1987), Donaueschingen Musiktage (1992), Berlin Biennale (1993 and 1997), Nov-Antiqua in Cologne (1996), Bang-on-a-can-Marathon (1996), and Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik (1999).

In 2003, he taught composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno.

Martin Smolka is also the co-author, with Petr Kofroň, of the book Graphic Scores and Concepts.

His works are published by Breitkopf & Härtel.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2020


Site du compositeur.

Liens internet

(liens vérifiés en novembre 2020).

Bibliographie sélective

Textes de Martin Smolka
  • Martin SMOLKA, Petr KOFROŇ, Grafické partitury a koncepty [Graphic scores and concepts], audio ego & Miracle 7 & Votobia, Olomouc, 1996 (livre bilingue Tchèque et anglais, accompagné d’un Cd audio).
  • Martin SMOLKA, John Cage, in: HIS Voice 5/2007, p. 22-27.
Textes sur Martin Smolka
  • Petr BAKLA, Martin Smolka. A microsentimental composer, in: Czech Music 3/2005, p. 17-20.
  • Jörn Peter HIEKEL, Kaleidoskopische Komponieren. Wirklichkeitsimpressionen im Werk von Martin Smolka , in: Musica Nova IV-V, Janáčkova akademie múzických umění v Brně, Brno 2002, p. 147-155.
  • Jörn Peter HIEKEL, Der Reiz der Reibungen. Die Musik des Prager Komponisten Martin Smolka , in: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 2009/6, p. 50-53.
  • Petr KOFROŇ, Smolka, Martin, in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, Macmillan Publishers Limited, London, 2002.
  • Thomas MEYER, Schwejk im Reich der Avantgarde. Der Prager Komponist Martin Smolka , in: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 2003/3.
  • Reinhard SCHULZ, Der umgestimmte Komponist. Der Prager Komponist Martin Smolka, in: Musik Texte 97, Mai 2003, p. 83-87.

Discographie sélective

  • Martin SMOLKA, Wooden Clouds, dans « Erbe: Neue Werke für Harry Partch Instrumente - Edition MusikFabrik 17 », avec des œuvres de Sampo Haapamäki, Carola Bauckholt, Ensemble MusikFabrik ; Sian Edward, direction, 1 Cd Wergo, 2019, WER 68702.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Poemas de Balcones, SWR Vokalenensemble Stuttgart ; Marcus Creed, direction, 1 Cd Wergo, 2016, WER 73322.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Pianissimo, dans « Angels », avec des œuvres de Liza Lim, Richard Ayres, Rebecca Saunders, Georg Friedrich Haas, Carl Ruggles, Agata Zubel, Martijn Padding, Marco Blaauw, Jimmy Rowles, Michiel Braam : piano, 1 Cd Wergo, 2013, WER 67812.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Rush (Hour in Celestial Streets), dans « Vom Himmel Zur Hölle | From Heaven to Hell - Edition MusikFabrik 3 », avec des œuvres de Mauricio Kagel, Louis Andriessen, Ensemble MusikFabrik ; Peter Rundel, direction, 1 Cd Wergo, 2010, WER 68532.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Semplice, dans « Donaueschinger Musiktage 2006, Vol. 3 », avec une œuvre de Wolfgang Mitterer, Ensemble Recherche ; Freiburger Barockorchester ; Lucas Vis, direction, 1 Cd Neos, 2007, NEOS 10726.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Walden, The Distiller of Celestial Dews, dans « Musica Viva 15 », avec des œuvres de Peter Eötvös, et Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks ; Peter Eötvös, direction, 1 Cd Neos, 2007, NEOS 10705.
  • Martin SMOLKA, Euphorium ; Music for retuned instruments ; Rain, a window, roofs,chimneys, pigeons and so on… ; Ringing, dans « Martin Molka / Agon Orchestra », Orchestre Agon, 1 CD Audio Ego, 1998, 032.