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Mar 4, 2015 7:30 PM

The Wisdom of the Wise Old Man

“The Wisdom of the Wise Old Man“ Cantata for mixed Choir, Violoncello and Organ composed by Juraj Filas

The compositions of Filas have been applauded at international competitions in Prague (Prague Spring), Riva del Garda, Narbon, Helsinki, Guebwiller, Bremen, Geneva, and other venues, receiving top awards.
In Salzburg, his television opera Memento Mori won the Jacobs Suchard Prize for 1989. In 2008, Filas received the prestigious Gustav Mahler Prize of the European Union of Arts for lifetime achievement.
His work has been showcased by prominent institutions like the Beethovenfest, Bonn; Carnegie Hall andLincoln Center, New York; Prague Spring; ORF, Vienna; the Zurich Tonhalle; as well as in the principal concerthalls of London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Tokyo, Hong-Kong, Taiwan, St. Gallen, Lausanne, Geneva, and other cities.
His symphonic work There Was a Pathway was heard in 2010 in Pasadena, California, under the baton ofJames Conlon. His Song of Solomon received its world premiere at Carnegie Hall in April 2012; Jiří Bělohlávek,who heard the work on that occasion, conducted it two years later with the Czech Philharmonic.
The New York premiere of the Filas Requiem in 2011 was greeted by glowing praise in the New York Times. In 2013, ten major radio stations around the world aired the work to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and other American targets.


 “The Wisdom of the Wise Old Man“ Cantata for mixed Choir, Violoncello and Organ" 
When in 2011 my dear friends, Mary Davidson and Arthur Fiacco, visited Prague, they also visited Terezín, a former concentration camp. They were left with very strong and moving impressions, due to which they asked meto compose a piece inspired by this tragic theme.
One of several Czech music composers who died in Terezín was Rudolf Karel, the last pupil of A. Dvořák anda professor of the Prague Conservatory. He was, together with Josef Suk, the teacher of composition of prof.Jan Zdeněk Bartoš, who was my then teacher of composition. When he was young, Rudolf Karel was a bravelegionary during the First World War. In Russia, Czech legionaries hurried together with the White army to savethe Russian tsar Nicolas II of Russia. They arrived to Yekaterinburg six hours after the whole tsar family hadbeen murdered. During the Second World War, prof. R. Karel hid partisan fighters against fascism in his countryhouse. Because of this, he was held in the infamous Prague prison in Pankrác for seven hundred days, after which he was transported to the concentration camp in Terezín.
It was here that he wrote the opera “The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom”, based on a fairytale written by Czech classical author Karel Jaromír Erben. He could only write his opera on pieces of toilette paper, which were then smuggled out of the camp by a guard and handed over to  R. Karel´s student Zbyněk Vostřák, who then composed the score and piano reduction.  The opera premieredon October 28th 1947 in the National Theater in Prague. Rudolf Karel did not live to attend  the premiere, he diedin March 1945, just six weeks before the liberation of Czechoslovakia. My cantata, which reflects the incrediblebraveness and humanism of an undefeatable character, adapts parts of  the text of Dante´s “Inferno”.
The cry “Lasciate ogni speranza voi ché entrate!“ (Leave behind all hopes thee who enter!)  could be the motto above  the entrance of the death camp. On the other hand, the main thought of K.J. Erben´s  fairytale is: “Sometimes you are  winning, sometimes you are losing, but he who persists in his battle will come  to blessedness of the heart”.
It is the counterpart of the previous remark, promising hope of the victory of good and justice. 
~Juraj Filas, Composer

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St. John Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, NYC


Mar 4, 2015 7:30 PM


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