JURAJ BENEŠ (1940, Trnava – 2004, Bratislava) studied piano with Roman Rychlo at the Bratislava Conservatory and composition with Ján Cikker at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. After finishing his studies he worked for 10 years as a rehearsal pianist in the Opera of the Slovak National Theatre (SND), later he taught at the Department of Musical Education of the Teacher’s Training College of Comenius University in Trnava. Since 1984 he lectures on theory of music at the Department of Music Theory of the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. During 1988–1991 he was a music adviser of the Opera of the SND. Since 1989 he is a lecturer at the Academy in Bratislava. In 1997 he was named professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. During 1994–1998 he acted as the chairman of the Slovak Section of ISCM. Beneš’s works were performed on several occasions at concert and theatre stages in Greece, United Kingdom, Poland, etc.
Since his beginnings as a composer, Beneš’s expression shaped into a language that gives the impression of carelessness, ”playing down the serious”, breaking the conventions by a unique concept of dramatic presentation, by specific usage of the human voice, and by usage of non-conventional instrumental forces. The literary text, a constant inspirational stimulus for Beneš, is transformed in his stage works into a totally new entity. Beside the overall meaning there is the meaning – as well as sound – of isolated words taken by Beneš from the original decomposed text. In his recent instrumental pieces Beneš abandoned excessive expression for the sake of architectonic construction of the composition, stressing the rhythmic and harmonic relations. Besides the three operas and Requiem Beneš wrote many compositions for orchestra, chamber ensembles, choruss, various vocal-instrumental combinations, and solo pieces. He also regularly composes for children. His works have received recognition at home (Ján Levoslav Bella Prize, Minister of Culture Prize) and abroad (in Arezzo, at the World Music Days in Athens).
Works (selection): The Emperor’s New Clothes, opera (1966), 6 piano sonatas (1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1985, 1995), Allegro for orchestra (1974), Préférence for 9 instruments (1974), Petrified, opera (1974), Musique pour Grock No. 1, 2, 3 (1975), Waltz for Colonel Brumble for 11 players (1975), Fragments of Janko Kráľ for low male voice (1976), Quartetto d’archi (Events; 1977), Quartetto d’archi No. 2 (1984), Quartetto d’archi No. 3 (1989), Quartetto d’archi No. 4 (1998), Mémoire for orchestra (1977), Music for trumpet, percussion and strings (1978), Lunovis, canzone chorale per coro di fanciulli (1978), Three Monodies to the Slovak National Uprising for soprano, 2 violins, cello and piano on poems by Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav (1979), Lamento per violino solo (1979), The Feast, opera (1980), Suite No. 1 for piano (1980), Suite No. 2 – Old Boys Anthology for piano (1981), In memoriam Pavel Raška per 12 archi (1981), Sonata per un clarinetto solo (1981), Temptation of St. A For King’s Singers for 6 male voices (1981), Music for orchestra (1982), Prelude for orchestra (1983), Il sogno di Poppea for soprano and piano (1984), Sonata per violoncello (1985), Requiem for solo voices, mixed chorus and orchestra (1986), Intolleranza for soprano and piano (1987), Quattro identificazioni for soprano and piano (1988), Music for J.S. for orchestra (1989), Music for Trombone and Orchestra (1989), Puzzle for string orchestra (1990), Notturni for piano 1, 2 (1989), 3 (1992), 4, 5 (1997), Madrigalsonetto secondo Petrarca-Liszt per coro misto (1991), When Music... for orchestra (1991), Cantata (Eating; 1992), For Instance Black Pony for Basett Horn (1992), Musica d’inverno for violin and orchestra (1992), Alice was beginning... for piano (1993), The Players, opera on text of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1994), Going to for 6 cellos (1994), Il seme seducente della genealogia for flute (1994), Cantata No. 2 (déjeuner) for soprano, clarinet and percussion (1995), Chanson triste for violin, clarinet, cello and piano (1996), His Masters Voice for orchestra (1997), Music for orchestra No. 4 (1997), Intermezzo No. 4 for 5 horns (1998), The white rabbit with pink eyes looking at a watch and Alice started for dulcimer (1999), Quartetto d’archi no. 5 (2000), Durée Φ per organo (2001), Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2001), Durée Δ per organo (2002).