Born: January 22nd, 1929
Died: October 24th, 2007
Country of origin: Czech Republic
Petr Eben was counted among the best known Czech composers. He spent his childhood in Česky Krumlov where he also studied piano, violoncello and organ. After hard years of occupation he entered the Prague Academy of Music to study piano and composition. In 1955-90 Eben was teaching at the department of musical science at CharlesUniversity before being designated professor of composition at the Academy of Performing Arts. Apart from his concert activities he was a celebrated improviser on both piano and organ. He has given concerts abroad in Paris (Notre Dame), London (Royal Festival Hall and Westminster Cathedral), as well as at the festivals of Melbourne, Edinburgh, Vienna, Ossiach, Berlin and the USA. However Eben’s core activity was composing.
His work includes all genres: the opera Jeremias, das Ballett Curses and Blessings (written for Holland-Festival 1983), the oratorio Apologia Socratus, the concert symphony Night Hours (written for Leipzig), Prague Nocturne (for the Vienna Philharmonic), the Second Organ Concerto (on the occasion of opening of the new organ for Radio Vienna) Missa cum populo (for the Avignon Festival), the oratorio Sacred Signs (for the Salzburg Cathedral), the oratorio Anno domini (for Paderborn) and Cusanus-Meditationen (for Mainz and Brixen).
Petr Eben has been awarded many international prizes for his song, chorus and organ series (the 1990 award for the piano cycle ‘Job’). Among his honors are the Order ‘Chevalier de lorde des Arts et des Lettres’ from the French Minister for Culture, nomination as Professor h.c. of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, the Stamitz Prize of the German Künstlergilde, a doctor’s degree h.c. from Charles University, the St. Constantin and Metod Prize from the Bishops’ Conference, the Kunst and Kulturpreis of the German Bishops’ Conference in Mainz, and an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Royal College of Organists.
Many of his compositions have been published and recorded on CD.