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Burian, Emil Frantisele

prague theater director music

Burian, Emil Frantisele, Czech composer and stage director; b. Pilsen, June 11, 1904; d. Prague, Aug. 9, 1959. His father was a baritone and his mother a singing teacher. He received his training at the Prague Cons, where he attended Foerster’s masterclass in composition (graduated, 1927). Even before graduating, he was active in avant-garde quarters in Prague as a stage director, dramatist, actor, and musician. With his mother, he presented concerts of new music from 1920. In 1924 he organized Prítomnost, a soc. for contemporary music. In 1927 he organized the Voice Band, which sang according to prescribed rhythm but without definite pitch. It attracted considerable attention at the Sienna ISCM Festival on Sept. 12, 1928. Between 1929

and 1932 he was active in Brno and Oloumoc. In 1933 he founded his own D 34 theater in Prague. During the Nazi occupation, Burian’s theater was shut down and he was placed in a concentration camp. After his liberation, he was a director in Brno (1945-46). In 1946 he returned to Prague and served that year as director of the Karlín musical theater. His long-standing commitment to the political Left led to his being made a deputy in the post-World War II National Assembly. As a composer, he followed an eclectic path, finding inspiration in Czech folk art, jazz, the music of Les Six, and Dada. Between the 2 World Wars, he was one of the leading figures in the Czech avant-garde. After World War II and the installation of the Communist regime, he embraced the tenets of socialist realism. His writings, all publ, in Prague, include O moderni ruské hudbë (1926); Polydynamika (1926); Jazz (1928); Památnik bratñ Burianû (Almanac of the Burian Brothers; 1929); Prazská dramaturgie (1938); Emil Burian (1947); Karel Burian (1948); Divadlo za nasich dnû (The Theater of Our Days; 1962).

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