Jiri Laburda

Composer and music teacher

Czech Republic



Jiri Laburda, composer from the Czech Republic, born on April 3, 1931, has acquired his love for music from his parents and received elementary musical training in his native town of Sobeslav. His attitude to music in general, and composition, in particular, was also shaped by the Czech composers Karel Haba, Zdenek Hula and the musicologist, Eduard Herzog.

Between 1952 and 1955, Laburda studied at the Pedagogical Faculty of Prague's Charles University and later on at the Prague Teacher Training College (1957-1960). In 1970, he received the title of Doctor of Philosophy, his doctoral thesis being entitled The Symphonies of D.D.Schostakovitch. His treatise, Didactic Problems of Modern Textbooks of Harmony, completed in 1973, is now part of his university textbook, Diatonic Harmony, Volumes I-III.



What does music mean to you personally?

Since my youth I attended the violin and later also piano lessons and it was really very important for me because I started to love the music very much. And if I was able to study music later at the Faculty of Education Of Charles University in Prague, it was really an unimaginably great gift for me – in particular, getting to Know the new works of classical music was beautiful. And since that time, the musical art (and not commercial music) has accompanied me my whole Life (almost 90 years). It's very nice!

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

The Fantasy is of course very important in music, but music should sound and then it becomes completely concrete. Yes, you can imagine music – sometimes very good, but the artistic power of musical art consists mainly in living sound.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I have to confess that I never became a professional composer. I worked as a music teacher. Yes, I taught the musical theory at College and that's a little different. – My Father had 2 grocery stores and originally I was supposed to be like my Dad and to become a merchant. But the communist regime has nationalised our businesses and suddenly I became a miner. After that, my father agreed with my musical future and as a result I became a musician.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Yes, that's a huge problem. The musical business people claim that "only one music exists" and so that the various commercial dance music etc is the art. But the truth is that the commercial musicians are practically not interested in the "serious" music at all and they are striving very much to eliminate this real genre from our lives. And it is sad that they have already succeeded in practice. Too bad, Too bad. And it's going to be very hard to improve all that again. But the Improvement is sure to come.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I don't expect a changed role in classical music. She will always act on the listeners aesthetically and above all ethically – that is, morally educational. Surely, music will always change a little. But probably the changes won't always be huge.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Creativity is always indispensable in music and every artist naturally strives to use it the most.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

Yes, that is a real Problem and I am completely convinced that here the most important role will be played by the school (sometimes by the family). Teachers, in particular, should acknowledge that it makes no sense to strive to bring youth to classical music "with the Help of Pop Music"! In the popularization of classical music we had very good experiences with the so called. "Educational Concerts." Their Organization was always very well prepared and the results were very, very good!! Too bad they completely disappeared…

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

In my composing, I dealt with the exploitation of modern compositional techniques. But once I was on holiday with the assistant conductor of the Prague most famous church choir. He asked me to compose a mass for his church – but: "No modernity and the music should appeal to people." That's why I aspired to compose in the late romantic stile and it seems that I succeeded very well in the Missa pastoralis and their performances are always very successful.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

It's easy. As with all activities, you can't rush with it. You have to choose a shorter, really valuable composition and then you have to listen carefully to it (at least three times). And the result will come soon enough.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Of course, when composing I think not only of the audience, but also of the performers, because I think it is important for them to like to play my music or sing it.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Often my compositions are commissioned, nevertheless I strive to create the music according to my decisions. So I would like to create at least a new cantata (possibly a Requiem), as well as another Symphony. I always have to have some plans.