(1956 - )
Vladimír Godár (b.Bratislava, 1956) is one of Slovakia’s leading composers. His large and varied output includes an oratorio, a ballet, works for orchestra, many chamber works, educational pieces and over 50 film scores. His music was little-known outside Eastern Europe until ECM Records released his choral/vocal cycle Mater in 2006, causing Rob Cowan on BBC Radio 3 to comment “It’s as if Janáček, Górecki and Monteverdi have settled on a universal language. A wonderful listen”.
Godár began learning piano at aged 8 while at elementary school in Bratislava and then private composition lessons from the age of 13. He went on to attend the Conservatory in Bratislava, and then studied composition at Academy of Music and Performing Arts there, leaving in 1980, graduating with his Symphony No. 1 for orchestra. His student works were influenced by Bartók, serial technique and the sonorities of the Polish school. However, even then he had begun to take a keen interest in older European music, stimulated by his continuo playing with early music groups at the house of the distinguished Slovak musicologist Ján Albrecht. From 1979 he worked for nine years as the editor of the music books department of the OPUS publishing house. He became a member of the Union of Slovak Composers in 1984, and in 1988 became a postgraduate student at the Institute of Musicology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences for four years. He later worked there as a musicologist from 1992. From 1991-6 he was Chief Editor of the Slovenská hudba (Slovak Music) review. He was Composer-in-Residence at the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra from 1993-4, and since 1996 has been a lecturer at the Department of Aesthetics of the Faculty of Philosophy of The Comenius University. From 2001-7 he taught composition at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. He was also the director of the publishing department of National Music Centre from 1997-9 and is director of the publishing house Scriptorium Musicum.
Godár’s music has been recorded on numerous labels including ECM Records, Slovart Records, Pavian Records, Diskant, Titanic and Hevhetia. He has been championed by many distinguished performers, including Iva Bittova, Andrew Parrott, Julian Lloyd Webber, Milos Valent, Libor Pesek, Peter Breiner, Skampa Quartet, Emily van Evera, Scottish Ensemble, Clio Gould, Robert Cohen and Josef Luptak.
His key large-scale compositions include the oratorio Orbis Sensualium Pictum (1984), The Garden of Daryatchangui (viola, cello and orchestra - 1987), Tombeau de Bartok (1995/2002), Concerto Grosso (12 strings and harpsichord - 1985), Barcarolle (violin, viola or cello and strings – 1993/94), and the Little Suite for Little David (electric violin, electric guitar and chamber orchestra - 2005). His wealth of chamber and instrumental music includes Ricercar (piano quartet – 1977/95), Déploration sur la mort de Witold Lutoslawski (piano quintet - 1994), Talisman (piano trio – 1979-83), Emmeleia (various combinations – 1994/2002), Sonata for Cello and Piano (1985), Sonata for Solo Violin (2004/5) and Lullabies of Jan Skácel (soprano and piano trio – 1986/2005). His film scores have achieved much success, in particular those for the distinguished Slovak director Martin Sulik, many of which have been released on DVD, and have resulted in a complete Godár/Sulik soundtrack album.
Godár has been described as a “musical archaeologist”, and certainly his music often draws its inspiration from the music of the past, from folk traditions and from Baroque and early music. Consequently, he often makes use of the harpsichord, and chant-like melodies and drones are a recurring feature. However, his style retains a striking, contemporary sound, ranging from his beautifully wrought Lullabies (part of his Mater cycle) to other more acerbic passages such as the intense central movement of his Concerto Grosso. He fuses both the past and present in his distinctive style that engages and moves the listener, in a variety of approaches that remain long in the memory.
The composer's home page (in Slovak and English)