Slava Vorlova, née Miroslava Johnova (pseud. Mira Kord). Nachod 15.3.1894 - Prague 24.8.1973.
Slava Vorlova, née Miroslava Johnova, was born in Nachod (now Czech Republic) on March 15, 1894. Vorlova grew up in a musical family: her mother, Emilie Johnova, was a talented singer and pianist; her father, Rudolf John, founded a small community orchestra in Nachod. Vorlova started her formal studies of music by taking voice lessons with Rosa Papier at the Academy of Music in Vienna. In 1915, she moved to Prague where she took private piano lessons with Vaclav Stepan and composition lessons with Vitezslav Novak. In 1919, Vorlova married entrepreneur Rudolf Vorel and for the next 15 years she had given up her dream of becoming a composer in order to help her husband build a successful family business. She returned to music in 1933, with her first opus, a string quartet. The following year, Vorlova participated in the masterclasses of Jaroslav Ridky at the Prague Conservatory and more compositions followed: Three Songs, op. 2, premiered in 1935; Three Songs, op. 4 (1939), premiered in Brussels in 1947; String Quartet No. 2, op. 5 (1939), premiered in 1941; Fantasy for Violoncello and Orchestra, op. 6 (1940), premiered in 1945; and White Clouds, op. 8, a cycle of ten songs for women's choir and orchestra (1942-43), premiered in 1944.
On May 8, 1945, just as the war was ending, Vorlova was forced to witness her husband's execution by an SS commando. She was traumatized by this horrible experience, and it was only because of her love for music that she was able to gradually move on with her life. Her patriotic cantata Little Country, op. 7, which Vorlova composed during the war years (1941-42), was premiered in 1948. The same year, Vorlova completed her graduation work, Symphony for Large Orchestra, op. 18, which she dedicated to politician Jan Masaryk.
The year 1948 marks the beginnings of Vorlova's collaboration with poet-librettist V.H. Roklan (a pseudonym of Vladimir Hloch who was to become Vorlova's life-long companion). The two collaborated on her symphonic poem Songs of Gondwana, op. 19 for soli, mixed choir and orchestra. Other examples of their collaboration include Vorlova's fairy tale opera Golden Bird, op. 27 (1949-1950) and her orchestral suite 'Bozena Nemcova,' op. 24 (1950-51), premiered in 1952. In 1951, Vorlova also composed Symphonic Overture and Animals in the Piano, op. 26 - twenty-four piano miniatures for children. The latter composition was premiered in 1954 and published the same year by KLHU.
During the next decade, Vorlova composed a number of instrumental concertos: Pastoral Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra, op. 28 (1952), first performed in 1955; Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, op. 31 (1953), premiered in 1954; Concerto for Viola and Orchestra op. 35 (1954), premiered in 1955; Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, op. 41 (1957), premiered in 1959; Spring Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, op. 48 (1959); and Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Strings, op. 50 (1961), premiered the same year. During the ten years she also composed four symphonic works: Three Bohemian Dances, op. 29 (1952-53), for which she received an award in 1953; Dances from Doudleby, op. 36 (1953-54), another award winning piece (1955); 'Sarady' for Two Pianos and Symphonic Orchestra (1956); and Thuringian Dances, op. 44 (1957), first performed in 1959. Vorlova also composed folk theatre plays "Rozmarynka", op. 30 (1952-53), premiered in 1955, and the award winning Nachod Cassation, op. 37 (1955). Other stage works from the period include the composer's one-act opera Two Worlds, op. 45 (1958), "We, People of the Twentieth Century," op. 46 - a symphonic ode for children's voices, mixed choir and orchestra (1959); and the 'New Age' Oratorio, op. 49 (1960). Vorlova's chamber music from the period included Paraphrases on Hussite Chants, op. 34 for piano (1953) and Pantummes for Harp, op. 47 (1959).
Vorlova's compositional output from the sixties included "Heart of a Gipsy," op. 52 for violin and dulcimer (1961), Gay Intervals for piano, op. 54 (1961), published in 1965 by Panton; Miniatures for Bass Clarinet and Piano, op. 55 (1962), premiered the same year and published in 1968 by Panton; Serenade for Oboe and Harp, op. 57 (1962); Serenata Desta for Flute, Bass Clarinet and Piano, op. 58 (1962); Dessins Tetraharpes, op. 60 for four harps (1963); Two African Fables, op. 61 for a reciter, flute alto and percussion (1964); and Sonata Lirica Da Tre, op. 62 for violin, viola and guitar (1964), premiered in 1965. Orchestral works from the period include The Cybernetics Studies, op. 56 (1962) and Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp, and Orchestra, op. 59 (1963). During this time Vorlova also experimented with unusual solo instruments in her Droleries Basclarinetiques, op. 63 for solo bass clarinet (composed and premiered in 1964); Il Fauno Danzante, op. 66 for solo bass clarinet (1965); and Efemerides for solo dulcimer (1969).
Vorlova also devised her own method for serial music in which she produced some of her best works. The compositions in styles of dodecaphony, serial and aleatoric music include: Dedications, op. 64 (1965); Bhukhar, op. 67 (1965), premiered in 1968 and published in 1970 by Panton; Model Kinetic, op. 69 (1967); "6 for 5" for Brass Quintet, op. 71 (1967), premiered in 1969; Chamber Concerto for Double Bass and Strings, op. 74 (1968), premiered in 1972; and Correlations for Bass Clarinet, Piano and Strings, op. 75 (1968), premiered in 1969. She also continued writing serial music during the seventies: Spectra for clarinet, violoncello, and piano (1970); Polarizations, op. 84, for harp, brass orchestra and percussion (1970); Esoterica for flute and guitar (1971); and her last orchestral composition Perspectives, op. 90 for a reciter and symphonic orchestra on text by Roklan (1971).
In 1972, a year before Vorlova died, her life achievements were finally acknowledged by the recording industry and her Imanence, op. 88 was released on record by the state-owned Supraphon. During the year she wrote Alphabet, op. 91 for two voices and piano, a yet another popular collection of instructive music for children, which was to be her last work. She died in summer 1973, after a long battle with a terminal illness that ended her remarkably creative life, entirely devoted to composition.
List of Works
Opera and stage music
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