Czech music, term for the art and folk music of the Czechs since the middle of the 19th century.
Folk music, which is very diverse in landscape, has been documented since the 11th century. Gregorian chant spread with the Roman liturgy; the sacred folk song of the Hussites influenced the songs of the Bohemian Brethren, which appeared in print at the beginning of the 16th century. As early as 1558, the bishop of the Bohemian community J. Blahoslav published the first music-theoretical work in the Czech language, “Musica”, and shortly thereafter a hymnbook (1561), which J. A. Comenius followed up with his Amsterdam hymnbook (1639). The Czech art music of the 16th to 18th centuries, which generally developed parallel to European music, is represented by the musicians Bohuslav Černohorský (* 1684, † 1742), who mainly worked in Prague, F. X. Brixi, F. X. Duschk, V. J. Tomášek. In addition, “Bohemian” musicians made a name for themselves all over Europe, among others. Jan Zach (* 1699, † 1773), J. D. Zelenka, J. W. A. Stamitz, F. and G. A. Benda, Josef Mysliveček (* 1737, † 1781), J. L. Dussek and A. Reicha. The history of Czech nationalmusicbegins in the early 1860s with B. Smetana’s advocacy of nationally influenced, particularly dramatic, Czech music. A. Dvořák followed suitwho also enriched Czech music with the genre of fairy tale opera. Z. Fibich also belongs to the founding generation, who used the stylistic principles of Wagner’s opera reform in his dramatic works, v. a. in the scenic melodrama »Hippodamia« (1890/91), performed consistently. A new musical development began with L. Janáček; his vocal music, operas and instrumental works are stylistically based on Moravian and East Slavic folk music and on his theory of speech melody. Dvořák and Janáček formed schools for composers. V. Novák and J. Suk belong. In the music of this generation of composers, impressionist and early expressionist traits were already establishing themselves. Czech modern music is represented by B. Martinů, a folk-neoclassical composer, and the microton avant-garde artist A. Hába. After 1945, the development took several layers, both in terms of ideas and style. Many well-known composers tie in with the tradition, including Jaroslav Řídký (* 1897, † 1956), Jan Seidel (* 1908, † 1998), Václav Dobiáš (* 1909, † 1978), others, v. a. of the middle and younger generation, use compositional principles of New Music in a very personal way, among others. Miloslav Kabeláč (* 1908, † 1979) and Jan Kapr, who in addition to M. Kopelent have also made a name for themselves abroad, as well as Jan Rychlík (* 1916, † 1964), Zbyněk Vostřák (* 1920, † 1985), Jan Novák (* 1921, † 1984), Jan Tausinger (* 1921, † 1985), Josef Berg (* 1927, † 1971), Miloslav Ištvan (* 1928, † 1990), Jan Klusák (* 1934), Luboš Fišer (* 1935, † 1999) and Petr Kotík (* 1942), who has lived in the USA since 1969. An ensemble for new music (Agon-Ensemble) was founded in 1983 in Prague by the composers Petr Kofroň (* 1955), Martin Smolka (* 1959) and Miroslav Pudlák. The most important Czech music festival “Prague Spring”, which has been taking place annually since 1946, has also performed with contemporary music.
According to listofusnewspapers, Jazz, which was rejected by the state in the early 1950s, was able to assert itself and initially led to the formation of big bands, but then also to numerous smaller ensembles. There is a particularly lively jazz scene in Prague; since 2005 there has been the Prague Jazz Open festival. The Contraband Orchestra, founded in 1988, made a name for itself in Europe. The rock music scene, which has been developing cautiously since the early 1960s, experienced an upswing during the Prague Spring, but was severely hampered after 1968; Czech rock music has not appeared internationally.