Ilja Zeljenka

Slovak composer. Concurrently with his secondary school studies, he privately studied harmony and counterpoint with Ján Zimmer and piano with Rudolf Macudziński. In 1956, he completed the study of composition with Ján Cikker at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava with his First Symphony. He worked as repertory advisor in Slovak Philharmonic and Slovak Radio, and afterwards as a freelance. His numerous works include ten symphonies, twenty-five piano sonatas, fourteen string quartets, and many other chamber and concert compositions. He also produced music for more than one hundred films. Zeljenka was one of the most prominent figures of the generation of Slovak composers which was formed under the influence of the 20th-century musical classics and the European avantgarde of the 1950s and 1960s. Stylistically his work was clearly individualised even from his very first opuses. In the formation of Zeljenka’s musical language, there are several notable registers, from neoclassicism, through post-Webern conceptions and the influence of the new music of the 1960s, his own concept of „cell-composition“, to the folklore-inspired work and neoromantic orientation of the 1970s. Outgrowing tradition and striving for new expressive nuances, Ilja Zeljenka sketched out a new, distinctive mode of shaping sound and form, thanks to which his works were successfully presented both in Slovakia and abroad. He received numerous domestic and foreign awards for his composition.