Stepan Rak – – Minutova Sola – II. Pisnicky Beze Slov – Pisnicka O Spechu

About the piece

Translation of the title: Hurrying Song – Minute Solos – II. Songs Without Words.

About the composer

Štěpán Rak (born Ukraine, August 8, 1945) is a Czech classical guitarist and composer. Stepan Rak, born in Ukraine toward the end of World War II, was brought as a foundling by Russian soldiers to Czechoslovakia (Prague), where he was placed with adoptive parents. His talent for the artistic was soon noticed and he soon went on to study graphic arts and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (1960). However, he was more attracted to the musical and because of this he started playing guitar and double bass in various Jazz and Rock bands in his 18th year. This created a great progression and an interest in Classical music. He studied at the Prague Conservatory under Stephan Urban and Zdenek Hula (1963-1970). In the process, he also studied composition with J. Dvoracek at the Academy of Musical Arts. Here began his remarkable career as a concert guitarist and composer.

Once graduated, he moved to Finland, where he lived for 5 years, teaching at the conservatory and giving concerts. His reputation as a brilliant guitarist and innovative composer then spread worldwide.

In 1981, Rak began teaching classical guitar at the Prague Conservatory, where he still teaches today. With this, he was the first teacher at a university allowed to teach the study of Classical Guitar in the Czech Republic.

Rak has elevated himself to the elite of guitar composers. He is known for his technical innovations that he uses in his compositions, including his “five-finger” technique (using the little finger of the right hand). He composed a mass of works for a variety of instruments and ensemble, even for a symphonic orchestra, although the majority of his compositions may or may not be directly related to the guitar. Important pieces from his oeuvre include “Voces de profundis,” “Homage to Tarrega,” “Czech Fairytales,” and “Sonata Mongoliana,” all of which are works that demonstrate tremendous imagination. Often they require many guitar techniques developed by Rak, with the result that his oeuvre is played by a smaller group of concert guitarists than work by, say, Leo Brouwer. In the Czech Republic especially the extensive ‘Vivat Comenius’ is a great success. It is a performance he put on together with text interpreter Alfred Strejček. The performance has been running since the 1980s and was also performed in the Netherlands.

As a composer, Rak’s international breakthrough was mainly the result of the success of his pupil Vladimir Mikulka who won a well-known guitar competition in Paris. Mikulka played – in his own way – many of Rak’s works and recorded them as well.

His works have become a permanent part of the guitar repertoire and are performed by such well-known guitarists as John Williams, Vladimir Mikulka and David Russel.

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