Stepjan Sulek (1914-1986)
The Croatian composer, violinist, conductor and music teacher, Stjepan Sulek (1914-1986), graduated from the Music Academy in Zagreb where he studied violin with the famous Czech teacher, Vaclav Huml (1880-1953), and composition with Biago Bersa (1873-1934), the founder of the modern movement in Croatian music. Sulek was a member of the famous Trio with pianist Ivo Macek (1914) and cellist Antonio Janigro (1918-1989), as well as the first violin of the Zagreb quartet. In 1958, he launched a successful conducting career in which he helped to develop an international reputation for the Chamber Orchestra of the Zagreb (today Croatian) Radio and Television. He received national and international recognition and was the recipient of numerous awards for his work. He was also a distinguished professor of musical composition and mentor of many leading Croatian composers (Milko Kelemen, Stanko Horvat, Kresimir Sipus, Pavle Despalj, Dubravko Detoni, Igor Kuljeric, and others).
"The essential thing for an artist is to have something to say and know how to say it; then his work will, itself, be modern."
These were the words Sulek chose to express the artistic credo to which he adhered his entire musical life. His music includes a balance of technical and musical elements that is often reflective of the tragedy of the human experience and the increasingly absurd circumstances of modern life. His neo-classic works link Baroque polyphony and Romantic period expressiveness, creating a characteristic and recognizable personal compositional style which contrasts powerful dramatic tensions with sincere, lyrical moments.
As the composer of eight very successful symphonies, Sulek was the last Croatian composer to write in this form. His works include two operas (Coriolanus and The Tempest), four classical concertos for orchestra, ten concertos (three for piano and one each for violin, viola, cello, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and organ), vocal music, (The Bashka Stone Etchings for chorus) and vocal-instrumental pieces (The Last Adam, Cantata), chamber music (piano sextet, ten string quartets, sonatas for violin, cello, trombone, and piano), and solo music (most notably, piano sonatas). (Text by Dubravko Detoni).