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Emil František BURIAN

(*11.6.1904, Pilsen - ✝9.8.1959, Prague)

Czech composer, conductor, representative of the Czech musical avant-garde

His father, Emil Burian, and his uncle Karel Burian were outstanding singers. He studied composition by J. B. Foerster.

He was director in the Prague avant-garde theatre, dramatist and actor for the Modern studio and the Artistic Society (1923), actor and musician in Voskovec and Werich's theatre Na slupi (1925) and in the Dada Theatre (1927). In 1924 he founded Přítomnost (Presence), society for contemporary music. In 1927 he founded the voice band, successful at the ISCM Festival and on an Italian tour in 1928. In 1929-32 he worked as a director in Brno, then in Olomouc. Back in Prague he worked for the cabaret Červené eso as a jazz band leader, soloist, composer. In 1933 he established his own theatre of D34. During the war, the theatre was closed and Burian was sent to a concentration camp. After the war, he worked as a director of D34, in Brno and Karlín Prague.

He began to compose in a last romantic style (i. e. opera Před slunce východemBefore Sunrise, 1924), after he was influenced by les Six and jazz (i.e. ballet Fagor a flétnuThe Basson adh the Flute, 1925). He also has an interest in folk and urban music (i.e. folk play with songs and dances VojnaThe War, 1935) influenced by Janáček and Stravinskij. The most interesting work for the voice band was Máj (May 1936, text by K. H. Mácha). His opera Maryša (1938) was a naturalist opera. His best works have been composed in the period of avant-garde.

Selected bibliography:
B. Srba: "Poetické divadlo E. F. Buriana" (The poetic theatre of E. F. Burian), Prague 1971.
J. Kladiva: "E. F. Burian", Praha 1982
H. Valentová: "Bubu z Montparnasu, lyrická opera E. F. Buriana", in: Opus musicum N. 1, 1995, pp. 3-12.

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