Marek Kopelent

Marek Kopelent
Born(1932-04-28)28 April 1932
Died12 March 2023(2023-03-12) (aged 90)
EducationAcademy of Performing Arts in Prague
  • Composer
  • Music or
  • Academic teacher

Marek Kopelent (Czech: [ˈmarɛk ˈkopɛlɛnt]; 28 April 1932 – 12 March 2023) was a Czech composer, music or and academic teacher, who is considered to have been at the forefront of the "New Music" movement, and was one of the most-published Czech composers of the second half of the 20th century.

After studies in Prague, he worked as a music or. In 1959 he became interested in European avantgarde music and incorporated its developments in his style. He received international recognition when his String Quartet No. 3 was performed at festivals throughout Europe. He co-founded and directed a contemporary music ensemble in Prague, Musica Viva Pragensis, and composed chamber music for them. He studied further for one year in West Berlin on a scholarship by Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. When he returned, politics had changed to censorship of contemporary music; he lost his job, and his music was banned. For 15 years, he worked as an accompanist at a music school, and composed pieces for foreign commissions that he could not hear being performed. In 1989, he was able to return, and was appointed professor of composition at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He was chairman of the Czech section of the International Society for Contemporary Music.

His compositions focus on chamber music, concertante music, and vocal music from solo songs to oratorios, based on a wide range of texts from medieval to contemporary. He received international awards.

Life and career[]

Early life[]

Kopelent was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on 28 April 1932.[1][2][3] His father František Kopelent was a lawyer, and his mother was a French teacher. The boy and his sister were schooled in French.[1] From 1951 to 1955 Kopelent studied composition with Jaroslav Řídký at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.[1][2] He followed the late-Romantic style of his teacher in an orchestral piece concluding his studies, Satanela.[3] He then worked from 1956[4] as a music or for contemporary music for the Supraphon publishing house.[1][2][5]


From 1959 Kopelent noticed increasingly the styles of the Second Viennese School and the European avant-garde movement. He read books such as Ctirad Kohoutek's New Compositional Theories of Western European Music (Prague 1962), listened at the Warsaw Autumn to music and met Czech composers, Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderećki and others, and had personal contacts with Western European composers including Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He absorbed influences and reflected them in his works.[5] The first piece to come to the attention of the musical world outside of Czechoslovakia was his Third String Quartet (1963), in large part due to the interpretation of the piece by the Novák Quartet which performed it throughout Europe.[3] In the 1960s, Kopelent became well known in contemporary European music circles, with his compositions being performed at such festivals as Warsaw Autumn, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik and the annual Darmstädter Ferienkurse.[5]


From 1965 to 1973, Kopelent served as an artistic director of the contemporary music ensemble Musica Viva Pragensis,[3] which had been founded by Petr Kotík in 1961.[5] It was conducted by his colleague Zbyněk Vostřák,[5][6] and for which he wrote several chamber pieces for the ensemble. In the Prague musical life of the 1960s, both the ensemble and the composers associated with it rose in importance, developing into the Prague Group of New Music, which brought together composers, musicologists and players,[3] in opposition to the official Czech composers' association.[5]

In 1969 Kopelent accepted a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, which included a one-year artistic internship (Berliner Künstlerprogram) in West Berlin.[1][5] In the meantime, the situation in Czechoslovakia changed following the Prague Spring, and New Music was less accepted. In 1971 Kopelent lost his job as or,[1][2][5] and his music was banned by the Czechoslovak government for twenty years.[7] He was ostracized by the new Union of Composers, and his ensemble Musica viva Pragensis was not permitted by the authorities to pursue its concert activity.[1][5]


In 1976 Kopelent accepted a job as a piano accompanist for a children's dance schools in Radotin, where he remained for 15 years.[1][2] During the 1970s he composed many pieces, a number of them for foreign commissions, but, as he could not leave Czechoslovakia, he was unable to hear their performances.[2][6]


After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Kopelent became a music advisor in the office of president Váćlav Havel.[8] In 1991 he was appointed professor of composition at the musical faculty of Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, a position he retained.[7][9][10] He was a co-founder and chairman of the Czech section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, and was chairman of the Atelier 90 composers' association.[8][10]

Kopelent was the organiser and a regular lecturer to International Composers' Summer Courses, held in Český Krumlov. Among his students were Czech composer Lenka Kiliç [Wikidata], recipient of a stabat mater at the national competition of young composers,[11] Czech composer Markéta Dvořáková [Wikidata], First Prize in the 1993 national competition of young composers,[12] Ukrainian composer Svitlana Azarova,[13] and Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds.[14]

Kopelent died in Prague on 12 March 2023, at age 90,[10][2] at the Motol University Hospital after a short illness.[10]


Kopelent's works include five string quartets, oratorios and concertante works.[9] They have appeared in a number of compilations of Czech composers.[7] He was one of the most-published Czech composers in the second half of the 20th century.[5]

His works include:[5][8]

Orchestral and vocal orchestral works[]

Concertante compositions[]

Music for chamber orchestra or ensemble[]

Music for solo instruments[]

Vocal music[]

Choral music[]

Music for children's choir[]

Stage works[]


In 1991, Kopelent was honoured by the French government, which named him a Chevalier des arts et des lettres. He received the Czech Classic Award in 1999, the Herder Prize in 2001,[9][6] and a Czech State Award for his lifelong contribution to Czech music in 2003.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Professor Marek Kopelent". 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Zvěřina, Martin (12 March 2023). "Zemřel hudební skladatel Marek Kopelent, průkopník Nové hudby. Bylo mu 90 let" (in Czech). Lidovky. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Pudlák, Miroslav (2023). "Marek Kopelent". Munzinger Archiv (in German). Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  4. ^ Matzner, Michal (11 June 2004). "Marek Kopelent". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Resch, Gerald (2016). "Marek Kopelent". MGG (in German). Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b c "Marek Kopelent". Czech Radio (in German). Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  7. ^ a b c "Compositor Marek Kopelent cumple los 70". Radio Prague International (in Spanish). 29 April 2002. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "Marek Kopelent". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b c "Marek Kopelent". (in German). 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d Honigmann, Daniela (12 March 2023). "Komponist und Vertreter der Neuen Musik Marek Kopelent gestorben". Czech Radio (in German). Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Kapralova Society". Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
  12. ^ "Marketa Dvorakova". Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  13. ^ "Svitlana Azarova – composer". 12 July 2006. Archived from the original on 12 July 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Ēriks Ešenvalds – The Living Composers Project". Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  15. ^ a b "". Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  16. ^ "State Awards presented on the site of Communist leader's mausoleum". Radio Prague International. 31 October 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2023.

External links[]