Petr Eben (1929-2007) a prolific Czech composer, suffered both under the Nazi regime and the Stalinist regime. As the son of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, he had been imprisoned in Buchenwald as a teenager. Somehow he not only survived this harrowing period, but he emerged with a strengthened Catholic faith. After the war the Czech people endured a particularly harsh Soviet occupation, and it was under this regime that Eben produced most of his life work. Eben remains virtually unknown outside of his native country and, to a lesser extent, the UK (he was briefly a guest academic in the UK). His relative obscurity stems partly because of the limitations on dissemination caused by the Iron Curtain. In addition, as a steadfast church member and frequent composer of liturgical music, he was not the sort of composer the authorities promoted.
Drei stille Lieder
Drei stille Lieder was written in 1955 and was dedicated to his wife, whom he married in 1953. The three miniature movements (“Love,” “Answer” and “Consolation”) feature poetic text by Frantisek Halas. According to literary critic Vera Blackwell, Halas was one of the leading voices of the Czech resistance during the German occupation. Eben’s phrases are often asymmetrical and his melodies quasi-improvisational. Featuring short repetitive phrases, ornamented and folk-like melodic content, Eben frequently embraces dissonance but always in an accessible way. The work is scored for high voice, flute and harp or piano; this performance features tenor, flute and piano.
Thank you to Dr. Červenková for her help in providing insight and contextual background information regarding this trio.
Article text and music courtesy of Suzanne Snizek taken from http://ssnizek.finearts.uvic.ca/.
Andersen, Martin. Fifty Yrs Plus and Minus. Accessed online 21 October 2016. search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/docview/1256185
Blackwell, Vera. “František Halas: The Rock and the Roots.” Books Abroad 43, no. 1 (1969): 13-17.