Vycpálek Ladislav (1882 - 1969)

A Czech composer born in Prague - Vršovice. Following his upper-secondary studies at Vinohrady grammar school he studied the German and the Czech language at Charles University in Prague (1901 - 1906). He started playing the piano and the violin at the age of six (during his university studies he was a member of several string quartets). In 1907 he started working at the university library (the present-day National Library). Here he founded the Musical Department in 1922 becoming at the same time its first head. Between 1908 and 1912 he studied composition privately with Vítězslav Novák.

Ladislav Vycpálek's compositional legacy consists predominantly of vocal music (the melodrama The Silent Reconciliations (Tichá usmíření, 1907); the song cycles The Silent Reconciliations (1908 - 1909); Lights in the Darkness (Světla v temnotách, 1910); In God's Palm (V Boží dlani, 1916)). Most of the lyrics he used come from the Czech poets Sova, Březina, Theer, and from Moravian folk music (under Novák's influence). He also composed chamber music (the string quartet (1909)). During the years of the World War I he devoted himself to the study of folk songs and social matters. Following 1918 Vycpálek composed his most significant works (Cantata on the Last Things of Man (Kantáta o posledních věcech člověka, 1921); the cantata Blessed Is the Man (Blahoslavený ten člověk, 1933); The Czech Requiem (České requiem, 1940)). As a composer Vycpálek is marked for his artistic discretion, intellectual concentration and strict compositional discipline. Inspired by Novák's deep affection for the Morava region and the Moravian folk songs, he always strives for his works to articulate his spiritual attachment to a human being, and to advocate noble humanity (frequent religious and mystic motives). 

Vycpálek's mode of musical thought could be described as predominantly vocal-polyphonic, which also determines the melodic and harmonic facet of his music. Firm consistence in harmonic structure and voice leading is typical of Vycpálek's work. The polyphonic mode of thought also serves as the basis for his polyharmonic system that he used and that secured Vycpálek the position of one of the predecessors of polytonality and new musical conceptions based on melodic and harmonic linear system. 

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