Photo by Anna Smolka

Martin Smolka

Martin Smolka (*1959) studied composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and privately with Marek Kopelent. In the years 1983–1998 he co-directed the Agon Ensemble. His compositions have been performed in many places in Europe and North America, and he also writes music for theatre and film (in a selective spirit).

Starting out from two different movements, Webernism and minimal music, Smolka arrived at a kind of concrete sonoristics, i.e. he worked musically with instrumental sounds reminiscent of familiar noises (ship and train sirens, the rumble of machines, the sounds of rain and many others), and these sound reminiscences helped to define the often nostalgic, sometimes grotesque idiom of his music. Since 1998 his style has shifted from sonoristics to work with tones, and even with typical elements of traditional music such as the minor third or string cantilena, but these are deformed, partly by microtones and partly by collage-style compilation.