Rudolf Komorous | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Rudolf Komorous

Komorous, Rudolf. Composer, bassoonist, teacher, b Prague 8 Dec 1931, naturalized Canadian 1974. In Prague he studied bassoon 1946-52 at the State Cons and 1952-6 with Karel Pivonka at the Academy of Musical Arts. He also studied composition with Pavel Bořkovec at the academy.

Komorous, Rudolf

Komorous, Rudolf. Composer, bassoonist, teacher, b Prague 8 Dec 1931, naturalized Canadian 1974. In Prague he studied bassoon 1946-52 at the State Cons and 1952-6 with Karel Pivonka at the Academy of Musical Arts. He also studied composition with Pavel Bořkovec at the academy. He was a winner at the 1957 International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, taught bassoon 1959-61 at the Peking Cons in China, and, on his return to Prague, became first bassoon of the National Theatre (State Opera House). In 1959 he also took a special course in electronic music in Warsaw, and in 1961 he co-founded Musica Viva Pragensis. Although he emigrated to Canada in 1969, he was employed 1969-71 as visiting professor at Macalester College in St Paul, Minn, resuming Canadian residency only when he joined the University of Victoria to found its electronic music studio in 1971 and teach composition and advanced theory. At Victoria he also served 1975-6 as acting chairman, and subsequently as director of the School of Music. In 1989 he became director of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. He has performed and his works have been heard frequently on CBC radio.

Komorous has written on commission for Paul Brodie (Dingy Yellow), the Early Music Workshop of the University of Victoria (Preludes), Peggie Sampson (At Your Memory the Transparent Tears Are Like Molten Lead, renamed Untitled 6), NMC (Rossi), Days Months and Years to Come (see Magnetic Band), (The Midnight Narcissus), the Vancouver New Music Society (Twenty-three Poems about Horses and No no miya), Norbert Kraft (Amaryllis), the Esprit Orchestra (Sinfony No. 1 'Stardust'), the TS (Demure Charm), and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Sinfony No. 2 'Canadian'). His early works, written in Czechoslovakia, employed his own personal brand of minimalism, but he later began to use tonal centres, sometimes in alternation with atonal sections, as well as longer melodic structures and other traditional musical materials, all of these combined in unusual and surprising ways. He has also employed musical quotations in some of his works, eg Hoagy Carmichael's song 'Stardust' in his Sinfony No. 1 and 'She's Like the Swallow' and the Czechoslovak folk tune 'The River is Flowing' in his Sinfony No. 2. His opera No no miya was premiered 30 Sep 1988 by Judith Forst, Gary Dahl and the Vancouver New Music Ensemble, conducted by Owen Underhill; the performance was broadcast on CBC radio 4 Dec 1988. The story tells of the ghost of a princess who was abandoned by her lover, and of a Bhuddist monk who helps the ghost escape the physical world to find peace. Komorous is a member of the CLComp and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.

Selected Compositions

Lady Whiterose (Komorous). 1966 (Buffalo 1970). Sop, alto, actor. Ms

No no miya (Komorous, after a Noh play by Zeami Motokiyo). 1988. (Vancouver 1988). Sop, bar, narrator, dancer, chorus, chamber ensemble. Ms


The Gloomy Grace. 1968. Sm orch. UE 1977

Bare and Dainty. 1970. Orch. UE (rental)

Rossi. 1974, rev 1975. Chamb orch. UE 1975. Centrediscs CMC-CD-3689 (Vancouver New Music Ens)

Vermilion Dust. 1980, rev 1984. Bar, SATB, small orch. Ms

Sinfony No. 1 'Stardust'. 1988. Ms

Demure Charm. 1990. Bn, fl, string orch. Ms

Sinfony No. 2 'Canadian'. 1990. Ms


Duettino. 1954. Cl, bsn. Kerby 1981

The Sweet Queen. 1962. Mouth harmonica, bass drum, piano. UE 1965

Olympia. 1964. Flexatone, mouth harmonica, nightingale, acolyte bells, sleigh bells, rattle. UE 1966. Supraphon 1-10-0471

Mignon. 1965. Four 4-str bowed instr. UE (rental). Supraphon (Novák Quar)

Chanson. 1965. Guit, clock spiral, viola. UE (rental)

York. 1967. Fl, oboe (trumpet), bassoon, triangle, piano, mand, double-bass. UE 1972

Untitled 2. 1973. Tpt solo. Kerby 1977

Untitled 3-5. 1974. Various instr. Ms

Preludes. 1974. 13 early instr. Kerby 1978

Untitled 6 (originally At Your Memory the Transparent Tears Are like Molten Lead). 1976. V da gamba, harpsichord. Ms

The Midnight Narcissus. 1977. Alto fl, piccolo, horn, oboe, violoncello, piano, triangle. Ms

Twenty-three Poems about Horses (Li-Ho, transl J.D. Frodsham). 1978, rev 1985. Narr, fl, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, violoncello, double-bass. Ms. Centredisc CMC-CD-3689 (Vancouver New Music Ens, M. Bartlett narrator)

Amaryllis. 1981.Guit. Ms

Trio for Strings. 1981 (rev 1982 for string orch as Serenade for Strings). Vn, viola, violoncello (string orch). Ms. (Str orch) 2-CBC SM-5050 (CBC Vancouver O)

Fumon Manga. 1981, rev 1983. Fl, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn. Ms

Quartettino (Les Amours Jaunes). 1983. Bn, violin, viola, violoncello. Ms

The Necklace of Clear Understanding. 1986. Baroque fl. Ms. (1991). Artifact 003 (CD) (Elissa. Poole)

Ritratto di Laura Battiferri. 1989. 2 violin, 2 viola, 2 violoncello. Ms


The Devil's Trill. 1964. UE (rental)

Slow fox (originally for piano). 1973. Ms


The Tomb of Malevich. 1965. Tape. UE (rental). Supraphon DV-6221

Untitled 1. 1973. Tape

Anatomy of Melancholy. 1974. Tape and tape jockey

Listening to Rain. 1986. Tape

Other works in all categories, including An Anna Blume (Eng version Eve Blossom Has Wheels) for choir (1971), Wang Wei Songs for bar, piano (1974-84), and Li Ch'ing Chao Madrigals for SATB (1985)

Komorous has also edited Six Parthias (2 oboe, bassoon) by F.X. Dušek (Kerby 1978) and Terzetto in C (bassoon, violoncello, double-bass) by anonymous (Kerby 1980)

Further Reading

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