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Eben, Petr (1929-2007)

Petr Eben

born: 22 January 1929
died: 24 October 2007
country: Czechoslovakia

Petr Eben is one of the foremost composers from the Czech Republic. His reputation extends well beyond his native country and his works are frequently performed. He was born on 22 January 1929 at Zamberk and grew up in Cesky Krumlov in Southern Bohemia, where he learned to play both the piano and the organ. During the war he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, and once hostilities had ceased he began to study the piano and composition at the Prague Academy of Music. Since 1955 he has taught in the Department of Musical Theory at Charles University in Prague, and since 1990 has been a professor at the Academy. Although composing forms the central focus of his activity, he also gives many concerts - primarily performing his own works - and is much sought-after as an improviser on both the piano and the organ. In this capacity he performs at festivals throughout Europe, America and Australia. Despite his creative diversity, Petr Eben devotes himself to two particular areas of composition - choral and organ music. His works for the organ are among his most popular, including the four-movement cycle Sonntagsmusik, Laudes, Biblical Dances, Okna ('Windows') - after Marc Chagall - for trumpet and organ, two choral fantasies, Mutationes for two organs, Landscapes of Patmos, Hommage à Buxtehude, Hommage à Purcell for solo organ, and the two major cycles, Faust and Job.

Petr Eben was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of London's Royal College of Organists in 2000.

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