THE ELECTRONIC MUSIC
IN EASTER EUROPE
By: Jorge Munnshe
It is impossible to attempt to compress the musical universe
enclosed behind the iron curtain by decades in a single mini-series. A basic approach to
the reality of the musical avantgardein each one of the multiple, rich cultures of this
great unknown which is Eastern Europe, nowadays in full development, would need the making
of a book. Therefore, this mini-series will only be a brief vision, perforce incomplete,
of these innovative styles sustained on cultures maybe as ancient or even more so than
those in the rest of Europe.
CZEH REPUBLIC / SLOVAKIAN REPUBLIC (FORMERLY CZECHOSLOVAKIA)
The first name that easily comes to mind is that of the well known musician Jan Hammer, who nevertheless had to develop his career in the United States, and who is above all known thanks to his Pop side.
With the political changes that ended up with the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czeh and the
Slovakian Republics, a very important culture of new musics emerged. Although before that
happened, something was known about it, basically through the Festival of New Music in Prague,
and the scene of progressive Rock that transcended abroad, the great variety and wealth of their
new musics has surprised the Western countries quite a lot. Some of these artists enjoy international
Coming from the scholarly spheres, Rudolf Ruzicka, is a composer who has combined the teaching
of music with composition. He is one of the many electronic pioneers unknown in the Western
countries. Already in 1965, he made music using a computer. He has written numerous pieces for
orchestra and synthesizers, and was awarded several international prizes in 1970 and 1984. He has
published a book on the use of computers in artistic tasks. He told me that at the time of its publication it was the only existing book written in the Czeh language describing computer composition in full detail.
Synthesist Otakar Olsanik could be considered as a completely different case from Rudolf Ruzicka,
as he comes from Rock, is self-taught, and nevertheless he enjoys the same prestige as an artist and pioneer. Furthermore, his life has been quite exciting indeed. Meaningfully enough, he told me that he had no idea where to start narrating me his life experiences. His education in electronics served him to become one of the members of the first Czeh band that used electric guitars (Electrofonic), which he recorded several albums with, besides engaging in a variety of tours in Czechoslovakia. Later, he left for the Scandinavian countries as a guitarist for a Rock band, and he began his solo career after building a studio with Norwegian technology. He achieved a great success, as his music could be heard on an almost daily basis. Nowadays he spends five months a year in Norway, works with computers and samplers, and makes movie soundtracks, even though from time to time he also composes a Pop song for his wife Kamila, who is a singer. He has participated in the Austrian festival of computer music and the interactive arts, Ars Electronica. It was there where I knew about him for the first time.
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