|Petr Eben (born on 22 Jan 1929 in Zamberk, died on 25 Oct 2007 in Prague) was one of the most distinguished Czech composers in the second half of the 20th century. He spent his youth in the medieval South-Bohemian town Cesky Krumlov. In that town he studied piano, later violoncello and organ. After hard years of the German occupation and the war, during which his whole family suffered, he entered the Prague Academy of Music (piano with F. Rauch and composition with Pavel Borkovec). As early as 1955 he took up a teaching post in the History of Music Department at Prague's Charles University. In 1978-79 he was professor of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. From 1990 he became professor of composition at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and President of the Prague Spring Festival. He was active as a performing artist, especially as an improviser on piano and organ (concerts in London - RFH and Westminster Cathedral, Paris - Notre Dame and Festivals in Melbourne, Edinburgh, Vienna, Berlin, USA), but his main activity was composing. Two main sources of his inspiration are the plain chant and the Czech folk songs.
He has written a large number of varied works in all genres, the oratory Apologia Socratus, the ballet Curses and Blessings, written for the Holland Festival 1983, the Concert Symphony Night Hours for Leipzig, Prague Nocturne for the Vienna Philharmonic, the 2nd Organ Concerto for the opening of the new organ of Radio Vienna, Missa cum populo for the Avignon Festival, the oratory Sacred Symbols for the Salzburg Cathedral, the Church-Opera "Jeremias" and more.
Petr Eben's music is regularly performed throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. He was awarded many prizes for his works: 1990 - by the Czech Government for his organ cycle "Job", 1991 - he received the Order Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from French Minister of Culture, in 1992 he was nominated Professor h.c. of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, in 1993 - he received the Stamitz Prize of the German Künstlergilde, and 1994 - the doctor's degree h.c. of Prague Charles University. Almost all of his works were printed and appeared on LPs and many CDs.