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

Golden Bird, op. 27. Fairy tale opera in 6 scenes (1949-50)
'Rozmarynka', op. 30. Folk theatre play in 4 acts (1952-53)
Nachod Cassation, op. 37. Folk theatre play in 6 acts (1955)
Two Worlds, op. 45. One-act opera (1958)

Orchestral music

Fantasy for Violoncello and Orchestra, op. 6 (1940)
Little Country, op. 7. Cantata for mixed choir and orchestra (1941-42)
White Clouds, op. 8. Cycle of ten songs for women's choir and orchestra (1942-43)
Symphony for Large Orchestra, op. 18 (1947-48)
Songs of Gondwana, op. 19. Symphonic poem for soli, mixed choir and orchestra (1948-49)
'Bozena Nemcova', op. 24. Suite for orchestra (1950-51)
Symphonic Overture (1951)
Pastoral Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra, op. 28 (1952)
Three Bohemian Dances, op. 29 (1952-53)
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, op. 31 (1953) Published by Statni hudebni vydavatelstvi.
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra 'Slovacky', op. 35 (1954)
Dances from Doudleby, op. 36 (1953-54)
'Sarady' for Two Pianos and Symphonic Orchestra (1956)
'We, People of the Twentieth Century', op. 46. Symphonic ode for children's voices, mixed choir and orchestra (1959)
New Age Oratorio, op. 49, for soli and children's voices, mixed choir, and orchestra (1960)
Gamekeeper's Wife, op. 38. Melodrama (1960)
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, op. 41 (1957)
Memento, op. 43 (1957)
Thuringian Dances, op. 44 (1957)
Spring Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, op. 48 (1959)
Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Strings, op. 50 (1961)
The Cybernetics Studies, op. 56 (1962)
Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp, and Orchestra, op. 59 (1963)
Dedications, op. 64, for orchestra (1965)
Bhukhar (Feaverish Birds), op. 67 (1965) Published by Panton (bought by Schott)
Model Kinetic, op. 69. Ballet music (1967)
Chamber Concerto for Double Bass and Strings, op. 74 (1968)
Correlations for Bass Clarinet, Piano, and Strings, op. 75 (1968)
Polarizations, op. 84, for harp, brass orchestra, and percussion (1970)
Imanence, op. 88 (1971)
Perspectives, op. 90, for a narrator and symphonic orchestra (1971)

Chamber music

String Quartet No. 1 'Bezkydy', op. 1 (1933)
String Quartet No. 2, op. 5 (1939)
Nonet in F-Major, op. 10 (1944)
Five Bagatelles for Violoncello and Piano, op. 15 (1947)
Melancholic Lullaby and Dance for Violin and Piano, op. 16 (1947)
Melodic Variations for String Quartet, op. 22 (1950)
Fantasy on a Czech Folk Song for Viola, op. 33 (1953)
Pantummes for Harp, op. 47 (1959)
'Heart of a Gipsy,' op. 52 for violin and dulcimer (1961)
Miniatures for Bass Clarinet and Piano, op. 55 (1962). Published by Panton (Schott)
Serenade for Oboe and Harp, op. 57 (1962)
Serenata Desta for Flute, Bass Clarinet and Piano, op. 58 (1962)
Dessins Tetraharpes, op. 60 for 4 harps (1963)
Two African Fables, op. 61 for a narrator, flute alto and percussion (1964)
Sonata Lirica Da Tre for Violin, Viola, and Guitar, op. 62 (1964)
Droleries Basclarinetiques, op. 63 for bass clarinet (1964)
Il Fauno Danzante, op. 66 for bass clarinet (1965)
Variations on a Theme by Handel, op. 68 for bass clarinet and piano (1965)
'6 for 5,' op. 71 for brass quintet (1967)
Spectra for clarinet, violoncello and piano (1970)
Esoterica for flute and guitar (1971)

Piano music

Color Notes for Piano, op. 9 (1944)
Animals in the Piano, op. 26. Twenty-four piano miniatures for children (1951)
Puzzles for Two Pianos, op. 32 (1953)
Paraphrases on Hussite Chants, op. 34 for piano (1953)
Happy intervals, op. 54. Children's studies for piano four hands (1961). Published by Panton (Schott)

Vocal music

Three Songs, op. 2 (1935)
Three Songs, op. 4 (1939)
Ezop, op. 12. Cycle of ten songs for women's choir (1945)
Longing, op. 13. Cycle of songs for middle voice and piano (1946)
About Love, op. 17. Cycle of songs for middle voice and piano (1947)
Dear Little Moon, op. 39 for women's choir and piano (1958)
Gift of a Song, op. 40 for women's choir (1956)
Raspberry Pickers, op. 51. Songs for women's choir (1961)
Gypsy Songs for Baritone and Piano, op. 53 (1961)
'Undressed Ideas', op. 70 for baritone and piano (1967)
Trebonska Madonna's Ring, op. 72 for tenor and piano (1967)
Alphabet, op. 91 for two voices and piano (1972)


Search this database to purchase Vorlova's scores


Autograph Scores

The National Museum
Czech Museum of Music
Department of Music History
Karmelitska ulice c. 2
118 00 Praha 1
Czech Republic

Radio Recordings (Czech Radio)

Pantummes for Harp, op. 47 (1973). Duration: 13'21". Performed by Magdalena Spitzerova.
Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Strings, op. 50 (1961). Duration: 23'.
Serenade for Oboe and Harp, op. 57 (1964). Duration: 8'15". Performed by Frantisek Hantak and Libuse Vachalova.
Sketches for Four Harp, op. 60 (1969). Duration: 8'48" Performed by Pavla Zitkova, Dagmar Jonakova, Vera Hlavsova, and Marta Peskova.
Chamber Concerto for Double Bass and Strings, op. 74 (1968). Duration: 17'. Performed by: Pavel Horak and Czech Chamber Soloists, conducted by Jan Zbavitel. (Producer: Brno Studio).
Esoterica, for flute and guitar (1971). Duration: 9'. Performed by Jana Neubauerova a Sona Rumlarova-Vikova.

Bibliography

Gardavsky, C. "Zivotni jubileum Slavy Vorlove." Hudebni rozhledy (1948): 165.
Pensdorfova, E. "Na pamatku statecne zeny skladatelky." Hudebni rozhledy (1973): 463-4.
Sefl, V. "Rozmarynka, lidova zpevohra S. Vorlove." Hudebni rozhledy (1955): 472.
Serych, Anna. "Programni skladby Slavy Vorlove." Hudba a literatura. Frydek-Mistek: Publisher?, 1983.
Slava Vorlova. Biographical leaflet. Prague: CMIC, 1969.
"Slava Vorlova." In The Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, pp. 480-1. Edited by Julie Anne Sadie and Rhian Samuel. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1995.
Vackova, J. "Malicka zeme S. Vorlove." Tempo 20 (1948): 133-8.
"Vorlova, Slava." In Ceskoslovensky hudebni slovnik osob a instituci, pp. 906-7. Edited by Gracian Cernusak and Bohumir Stedron. Praha: SHV, 1963.
Vorlova, Slava and V.H. Roklan: "Konfese Slavy Vorlove." Opus Musicum 5-6 (1973): 155-61.




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