Juraj Filas, Harmony Sponsored Composer, Passes Away
December 31, 2021
We are saddened to report the the last day of the year 2021 marked the passing of one of Czech Republic and Slovakia’s greatest composers of the late 20th century, Juraj Filas. Indeed, he was the first living composer to have been played in New York’s Carnegie Hall since 1959. In the last fifteen years his works were presented at Carnegie six times, and in other venerated halls across the globe.
Juraj Filas was the author of more than 120 opuses across the genres of concerts, symphonies, cantatas, operas, and chamber music. His requiem, Oratio Spei (Prayer of Hope), dedicated to the victims of terrorism, was performed at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyala and at Carnegie Hall by the Oratorio Society of New York. This fall, the score of Oratio Spei was used as the musical backdrop for a multimedia digital art show, “Requiem 2021”, performed at the Czech Center New York on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The show was lauded by the Czech Center’s website as their best cultural event of 2021.
Matthew Gurewitsch, a renowned classical music critic, once wrote of him, “Filas is the rare composer of our own day bold enough to compete on equal terms with the likes of Mozart and Verdi.” But he was so much more. Marta and Stanislav Kotyza, who emigrated to the States in the 1980s, began a non-profit, Harmony Foundation, for the purpose of supporting the arts. Juraj Filas was their closest friend. Fundraising concerts, often held at the Kotyza family home, featured many of Mr. Filas’s works. One of their daughters remembers asking Juraj why he was so passionate about composing, more than he was about anything else. Juraj smiled. “Music gentles the soul”. His music really did just that. And his life, like his pieces, gentled the souls of all those who knew him, without needing to speak it, without needing any words.
A memorial will be held and is being planned - details to come.