• 1921 – 1929

    Secondary School in Banská Bystrica

  • 1930 – 1935

    Music Academy in Prague (composition – Jaroslav Křička, conducting – Pavel Dědeček, organ – Bedřich Antonín Wiedermann, piano – Růžena Kurzová)

  • 1935 – 1936

    studies in composition under Vítězslav Novák at the Master School in Prague

  • 1936 – 1937

    Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna (conducting – Felix Weingartner)

  • from 1939

    teacher at the Music and Drama Academy in Bratislava

  • 1945 – 1948

    dramaturg of the Opera of the Slovak National Theatre

  • 1951 – 1977

    pedagogue of composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (1964 appointed as a professor)

„Cikker was a composer of international significance. His work is dominated by a series of nine operas. In each of them he displayed ideas of humanism, the desire for freedom, and patriotism, while outwardly beautiful thoughts were the subject of his own investigations, as he monitored their social impact and from the results deduced his views on political and social life. He was a thinking, noble man and an artist, who put his sense of national elements at the forefront. The impact of Slovak folklore was in Cikker's work apparent in his student years (Sonatina for Piano, Concertino for Piano and Orchestra, Slovak Suite, symphonic poem The Summer and others, but particularly his operatic first fruits Juro Jánošík and Beg Bajazid). Efforts to synthesize national elements and current resources characterizes not only the composition Leto / Summer, but the entire trilogy of symphonic poems O živote / About Life (Leto / Summer, Vojak a matka / Soldier and Mother, Ráno / Morning), as well as his Spomienky / Memories, and later his Symphony 1945. Cikker didn't give up these achievements even when he was becoming familiar with the influences of European modernism. He was able to masterfully unite universal and domestic values, as technicality was subjected to the value of the idea and by this synthesis he has gained an individualistic approach in an international context. An antiwar theme became important in the works Cantus Filiorum, in the symphonic trilogy O Živote / About Life, Spomienky / Memories, Symphony 1945, in epitaph Nad starým zákopom / Over the Old Trench and others. These works simultaneously demonstrate Cikker's large internal transformation from carefree bachelor to judiciously thinking man caused by wartime experiences. In the opera Mister Scrooge he dealt with the ethical issues of the ruthless miser, who prior to his death understand the absurdity of his actions. A picture of conjugal fidelity to the grave is displayed in his opera Hra o láske a smrti / Play About Love and Death based on the story of the same name by R. Rolland. On the backdrop of the French Revolution the composer deals with the problems of human dignity, loyalty, and ethics. Artistically speaking, his most outstanding opera is Vzkriesenie / Resurrection on libretto by the novel of the same named by L. N. Tolstoy, which opened the way to many operatic stages and set Cikker on an equal footing with great personages of world opera culture. The antique theme in Shakespeare's processing of Coriolanus evokes thoughts of love for the homeland, loyalty and to the truth. It condemns betrayal, punishes it and honesty is elevated above all human qualities. In the opera Rozsudok / Judgement Cikker condemns the stereotype of obsolete social conventions, false religious dogmatism, slavish obedience to parents, Church, social order, habits of the time and subordination to incorrect opinions (the composer wrote the libretto by himself based on H. Kleist's novel Earthquake in Chile). In the opera Obliehanie Bystrice / Siege of Bystrica based on Mikszáth's novel Past Castle Lord ,Cikker tried his dispositions and a sense of a joke in the form of the comic opera. By the time of his last finished opera Zo života hmyzu / From The Life Of Insects based on the draft of the Čapek brothers' play, Cikker pitted war against insanity and stood in defense of a person and his dignified place in life. Cikker's musical language is very rich and it synthesizes a traditional background with modern music trends of 20th century. In the wide range of expressive means the composer didn't prefer any well-defined composition-construction system and such a self-repression he did not admit either in the work of others. He freely reached for any shape corresponding to actual musical feeling and compositional requirement. He worked with the whole twelve-tone range by the way of extended tonality and free sequences of linear-chord procedures formed into the most intricate clusters, often determined by harmonic interval or by the form of free creation of the musical process which corresponded with a psychological profile of a displayed section. In addition to Cikker's harmonic constructions, these intentions are all parameters of composition, including instrumentation. In Cikker's music the sound focus is on the strings, but their functionality is completed by the other instrumental groups. Cikker's work remains permanently timely, because it encourages generosity, morality and self improvement.“


(PALOVČÍK, Michal: Ján Cikker. In: 100 slovenských skladateľov. Ed. Marián Jurík, Peter Zagar. Bratislava : Národné hudobné centrum, 1998, p. 65 – 67.)