Czech composer and musicologist Aleš Březina was born in 1965. He studied violin at the Pilsen Conservatoire and musicology at universities in Prague, Basel and Berlin. He is married, has a son Štěpán (*2013) and a daughter Anna (*2016).
Operas and Stage music
He has won two Alfréd Radok´s Awards (the most prominent Czech theatre awards) for the best music and was nominated for many more for his two chamber operas and other works for music theatre. In theatres he has cooperated with Robert Wilson, Pamela Howard, Jiří Ornest, Jiří Nekvasil, Jan Hřebejk, Jiří Menzel, Jan Nebeský, Šimon Caban, Martina Schlegelová, Roman Meluzín, Michal Dočekal, Petr Zelenka, Jana Kališová, Hana Burešová and others.
Together with the librettist and stage director Jiří Nekvasil he created a full-length opera on the 1950 political show trial of Milada Horáková, Tomorrow There Will Be…. From its premiere in April 2008 at the Kolowrat Theatre in Prague till June 2013, the production of this opera has scored 86 sold out performances in Prague as well as on many places in the Czech Republic; in Nitra, Slovakia; Wroclaw and Helsinki. This production gained Alfréd Radok´s Award 2008 for the best music and was filmed by Jan Hřebejk in 2010.
Since September 2013, the National Theatre in Prague has staged Březina´s second chamber opera Toufar on a priest who was tormented to death by the communist State police in 1950, director Petr Zelenka. The production has toured to New York City, Dresden, Budapest, Bratislava and Nitra and was filmed by Petr Zelenka and Blažena Hončarivová for Czech TV in 2016.
Aleš Březina received another Alfréd Radok’s Award in 2010 for his music for Karel Čapek’s drama The Makropulos Case staged by Robert Wilson at the National Theatre in Prague (in 2012 it opened the Naples Theatre Festival). He composed incidental music to another Robert Wilson´s production 1914, that has been staged at the National Theatre in Prague in 2014 (nominated for Czech Theater Critics Award) and travelled to Reims, Linz, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.
In September 2010, his full-length „visual music theatrical experience“ called Mucha’s Slav Epic (libretto Šimon Caban) was premiered at the Municipal Theatre in Brno. In 2012 his music for Shakespeare’s King Lear staged at the National Theatre in Prague was also nominated for Alfréd Radok’s Award. In 2012 he composed music for production of Beaumarchais‘ The Marriage of Figaro (directed by Michal Dočekal, National Theatre in Prague), his theatre project Arch of Hope (libretto by Martin Vačkář, directed by Jana Kališová) opened in České Budějovice in December 2015. In November 2016 Březina´s first musical Liduschka (Baarová)(Libretto Karel Steigerwald) was succesfully premiered at the Pilsen Theatre and was immediately nominated for Czech Theater Critics Award and Divadelní noviny [Theater Newspaper] Award.
In June 2017, the international project Charlotte: A Tri-Colored Play with Musicwas presented at the Canadian Luminato Theater Festival in Toronto, Canada in collaboration with Pamela Howard (director) and Alon Nashman (libretto). In 2019, an international tour took place, attending a new production of the Charlotte Chamber Opera musical at the Jaffa Fest in Tel Aviv, Israel, Theatres in Kiev and Lviv, Ukraine, National Theatre Prague and Smetana’s Litomyšl Opera Festival (Czech Republic).
Hana Burešová’s production of Sofokles’ play Élektra with music composed by Březina opened at the Theater in Dlouhá Street in Prague in February 2018 and was nominated for Czech Theater Critics Award. The play is also recorded for radio broadcasting by Czech Radio in Prague.
In 2019 he was nominated for Czech Theatre Critics Award for his music for Pan Pros (Beckett Fragments), directed by Jan Nebeský and performed at the DOX Center for Contemporary Arts in Prague..
in 2020 Březina composed a musical fairytale Monkey and Idiots for Iva Bittová and the Struny dětem Festival in Prague as well as the family ballet Mowglee (libretto and choreography Marika Mikanová) for the Liberec F. X. Šalda Theatre. Due to the current pandemic situation, the premieres of both works have been postponed several times.
Currently Březina is working on the music for Karel Steigerwald’s play A tak tě prosím, kníže, which will be performed at the La Fabrika Theater in Prague.
Aleš Březina has composed music for more than 20 films directed by Jiří Menzel, Jan Hřebejk, Juraj Lehotský, Karel Janák, Petr Zelenka, Dagmar Knöpfel, Olga Sommerová, David Mrnka, Georgis Agathonikiadis, Olga Špátová, Tomáš Pavlíček and others. He was four times nominated for the Czech Lion Award (Up and Down, I Served The King Of England, Honeymoon, Milada), once for the Czech Film Critics Award (Honeymoon) and his music for Hřebejk’s film Kawasaki’s Rose earned him nomination for European Film Composer Award 2010. His soundtracks were published by Sony Bonton Music and Milan Records in Paris. He composed music to Olga Sommerová’s documentary films Věra ’68 about Czech famous gymnast Věra Čáslavská and The Magic Voice of a Rebel about the famous Czech singer and dissident Marta Kubišová.
Currently Březina is working on music for the film Applaus by Juraj Lehotský.
Březina’s compositions for orchestras, his melodramas and suites from his film and theatre music have been played by Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra in Zlín, Prague Chamber Orchestra, the North Czech Philharmonic Teplice, the South Czech Philharmonic České Budějovice, the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamburg Symphonic Orchestra, Guarneri Trio Prague, Dvořák Trio and others. He composed Falling Leaves for piano and orchestra (premiered in 2012) and a Requiem for soli, chorus and orchestra (premiered in 2010, revised in 2012/14) and performed in the definitive version in 2014 by the boys choir Boni Pueri, period instruments ensemble Musica Florea and soloists Iva Bittová and Vojtěch Dyk. This version has been recorded by the Czech Radio.
In 2018 he composed the sinfonietta Monumenta bohemicafor large orchestra. It was premiered by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra with conductor Radek Baborák at a concert for the re-opening of the National Museum in Prague and the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The sinfonetta was shortlisted for the Classic Prague Award 2018.
His other compositions include the melodrama A-ha! for mezzo Soňa Červená, Agnus dei for three countertenors and string quintet, piano trio333 composed for Guarneri Trio Prague (world premiere 2011 in Basel, Czech premiere 2012 in Prague’s Rudolfinum), the revised and significantly extended version of it was composed for Dvořák Trioand released with a new title Kawasaki´s Rose . He also wrote a piano cycle Reperkuse (premiere 2009, Prague).
Aleš Březina has been the Director of the Bohuslav Martinů Institute in Prague since 1994. He is Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Bohuslav Martinů Complete Edition, he has prepared a host of compositions by this author for revised or urtext publications at Czech, German, English, Austrian and French publishing houses. He reconstructed the first version of the opera Greek Passion (premiered at the Bregenzer Festspiele in 1999 in co-production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Laurence Olivier Award 2000). In 2016 his critical edition of The Epic of Gilgamesh earned the Best Edition award from the Associacion of German Music Publishers. In 2020 the chairwoman of The Czech Science Foundation (GAČR) awarded Březina’s project of Bohuslav Martinů Complete Edition as one of the five best scientific projects of the year.
He has published in Czech and foreign magazines and miscellanies a number of specialist studies about 20th century music, primarily concerning the life and work of Bohuslav Martinů. He is the editor of the series Martinu Studies. He has lectured in Europe and USA and is a member of a number of Czech and foreign professional associations. For the fourth time, he has in 2014 cooperated with the Concentus Moraviae Festival and the international Czech Dreams project as the dramaturge.