1968: The story of Alexander Moyzes

1968: The story of Alexander Moyzes

Alexander Moyzes was a Slovak composer and one of the founders of classical music education in this country.

Like many Slovaks who were born at the first decade of the 20th century, Moyzes studied in the then Czechoslovak capital Prague. His professor was the famous Vitezslav Novak while one of his school-fellows was Jaroslav Jezek, a profound Czech jazz composer. Due to the impact of his teacher, Moyzes involved traditional music in his compositions, the influence of Jezek can be found in his Jazz sonata for two pianos.

In 1928, he moved back to Bratislava and became one of the key figures in forming the classical music scene in Slovakia. Neo-romantic composer Alexander Moyzes became one of the founders and the rector of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, the founder of the Slovak Radio Orchestra, the founder of SĽUK, i.e. the Slovak Centre For Traditional Culture.

According to musicologist Oliver Rehak, he was the only Slovak classical music composer who openly opposed the invasion of Czechoslovakia  by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. Moyzes included his protest in his 8th symphony named 21 August 1968. This piece was immediately banned, its printed scores were scrapped and he was fired from the post of the rector of the Academy of Performing Arts as well as the chair of the Slovak Composers’ Union.

“He is of a very complicated nature with uttermost individualistic features,” read a staff report issued at the early year of the so-called normalization in 1972. The communist regime let him teach. Thanks to this, Moyzes brought up a generation of significant composers successful also abroad including Martin Burlas, Juraj Hatrik, Peter Breiner and even the late Vaso Patejdl. Up until today, Alexander Moyzes has been one of the most performed Slovak composers in abroad.

Martina Šimkovičová, Photo: TASR

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