Meet the composers



Czech composer Jiri Gemrot is known for a strong personal style that relies on a communicative approach between his writing and the audience. He states that his aim is "to fuse musical styles, uniting past and present, while posing philosophical and artistic questions". While appreciative of current compositional trends, Gemrot regards both nineteenth and early twentieth-century composers as important models. His own works are permeated with their themes and structural details, the long phrases of his compatriots Dvorak and Janacek, the ironic melodies of Prokofiev, the original harmonies of Martinu. The composer has always admired the sonata form and those composers who, throughout the centuries, adapted it to their own styles, thus extending it. Similarly, using the sonata as a basis, Gemrot has attempted to emulate these efforts at merging styles.


Gemrot was born into a musical family. He learned piano by seven and began composing at thirteen. His formal composition studies took place in the Czech Republic and Italy. He is currently teaching composition at the Prague Music Conservatory. For many years he has also been active as a music producer for Czech Television and Radio where he now holds the position of Director of the Recording Department.

Primarily an instrumental composer, Gemrot thinks his inventive faculties are best suited to chamber groups. Often he is inspired by the musicians to whom he has dedicated his works. He also finds inspiration in the great questions of philosophy, as can be heard in his composition for orchestra "Three Adagios," an exploration of thoughts on attaining satisfactorily balanced life.

Mr. Gemrot's compositions have been performed in France, Scotland, Germany, England and other countries. Several recordings have been made of his works in the United States and Japan, as well as in the Czech Republic. Much of Gemrot's work is published and recorded by Panton, Baerenreiter, Radioservis, Canyon Classics, Albany Records, and Editio Moravia.

1) Piano Quintet.

Available on our Festival CD collection

Premiered by Prazak String Quartet and Ewa Kupiec (piano). March 2003.

Commissioned by AFCM.

Sponsored by: members of Tucson's Czech community, Jean-Paul Bierny and Chris Tanz, Fred and Diana Chaffee.

Performances: Germany, Austria (Bregenz), Czech Rep. (Prague) (Apollon Qt. and Daniel Wiesner).

Published: Vydavatelstvi Ceskeho rozhlasu (Publishinghouse of Czech Radio).

The composer writes: I am most pleased to have produced another World Premiere for a North American audience, adding Tucson to a list that also includes Chicago and Toronto.

The work is in two movements. The first is in a sonata form and the second is what I consider a "combination," of a slower movement with scherzo. The form of the work has its roots in neoclassicism, with a clear harmony and melody, but the piece itself extends beyond the style. My desire is that the work create a musical bridge between the classics and modern pieces.

2) Clarinet Quintet

Available on our Festival CD collection

Premiered by Prazak String Quartet and Richard Stotzman. March 2007.

Commissioned by AFCM.

Sponsored by: Joan Jacobson.

Performances: Society for Chamber Music (Prague)/Czech Philharmonie. Feb. 2010


3) Bass Quintet

Premiered by Prazak String Quartet and Volkan Orhon. October, 2008

Commissioned by AFCM.

Sponsored by Milos and Milena Chvapil and Joan Jacobson

The composer writes: "I composed the Quintet for Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Double Bass between January and July 2008. This work is in three movements. The first (Con impeto) is written in sonata form, the second (Vivacissimo) is a scherzo with an ABABA form. The last movement (Andante) has two themes. The ABABA form returns with a reminiscence of the theme from the first movement's introduction and then synthesizes both themes in the finale. The coda is derived from the primary theme of the first movement.

"I would like to thank Milos and Milena Chvapil and Joan Jacobson for sponsoring this piece."

4) Sonata for Piano Four Hands

Premiered by Martin and Kristina Kasik. February, 2009

Commissioned by AFCM.

Sponsored by: Joan Jacobson.

Mr. Gemrot writes about his new work:

"The form of this sonata is basically classical. The first movement is written in sonata form. The second movement Scherzo is in ABA form. The finale is a toccata in the form of ABABA.

Because I studied piano in my youth at the Prague Conservatory, I enjoy writing for this instrument. I have written six piano sonatas, a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, the Suite for Piano 'From Diary 2006,' as well as several smaller pieces for my son Adam, who is currently a piano student of Martin Kasik at the Prague Conservatory.

I would especially like to thank Ms. Joan Jacobson for kindly sponsoring this piano sonata."