Musicologist and aesthetician Jaroslav Volek to his times and to present
Špaček, Jan (Translator of Summary)
Source document: Musicologica Brunensia. 2009, vol. 44, iss. 1-2, pp. -151
ISSN1212-0391 (print)2336-436X (online)
License: Not specified license
The article is partly based on the entry written for the web-based Český hudební slovník (Czech Music Dictionary www.musicologica.cz/slovnik) by the author together with Martina Stratilková. There are several connections mentioned in the introduction with Jiří Vysloužil, to whose jubilee volume this article was commissioned. The text then brings a brief professional biography of Jaroslav Volek (*1923, †1989). Volek graduated in composition at the Prague conservatoire and then, after the the war, also in musicology and aesthetics at the the Charles University in Prague. Following a brief employment in Bratislava he returned to the Prague university to lecture and later to become head of the Department of aesthetics. The change in political situation after the cleanup of the so-called Prague Spring and start of the "consolidation" in the beginning of 1970s seriously influenced both his life and career. He was blacklisted and deprived of both teaching and publication opportunities. Some sort of release came only slowly in the course of time: some of his texts were approved for publication, he participated in the musicological conference events (e.g. the Brno musicological colloquiums), in 1985 he lectured musical semiotics as a visiting professor at the university in Freiburg im Breisgau and made even a lecturing and study tour of universities of the USA. -- In the very beginning of his career of music scholar and critic specializing in the problems of music theory, especially harmony, his works concerning Béla Bartók were highly appreciated. Later he published several items - i.e. the treatise of fundamental importance Základy obecné teorie umění (Fundaments of the general theory of art, 1968). He compiled the following important studies in music theory into the publication Struktura a osobnosti hudby (Structure and personalities of music, 1988), which met with similar success as the new edition of his Kapitoly z dějin estetiky (Chapters from the history of aesthetics, 1985. Similarly as most his contemporaries in the Czech musicology and aesthetics, he passed through the influence of marxism, or let's say dialectical materialism, but also structuralism (the leading Czech aesthetician-structuralist Jan Mukařovský was among his teachers), and he upgraded his intellection with stimuli of the linguistics, cybernetics, theory of information and communication, but most of all of the semiotics. -- He himself became the most distinct personage of the Czech musical semiotics: he was, among other texts, author of the key chapter in the team publication Základy hudební sémiotiky (Fundaments of the musical semiotics, posth. 1992, see also the study in German: Musikstruktur als Zeichen und Musik als Zeichensystem, 1989). -- This study brings references to Volek's major scholarly outcome, as well as links to selected literature on Volek and a list of texts dedicated to him. Volek is considered one of key and most inspiring personages of the Czech musicology and aesthetics in the second half of the 20th century.