IMF Kutná Hora 2017

Milan Pala


Is a violinist of Slovak origin. He is one of the most distinctive personalities on the current music scene. His unique style of playing is unmistakable and experts justifiably rank him among the world’s top performers of the younger generation. During his studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno, Milan Pala won numerous awards and attracted international attention in European competitions. At that time he also took international master classes in Zurich with Vladimir Spivakov and Jean Guillou and, in a private class with Semyon Yaroshevich, became acquainted with the legendary Russian school of David Oistrakh. However, it was his cooperation with composers that, according to Milan, profoundly influenced his musical expression.

A close relationship and creative collaboration with such composers as Jean Guillou, Evgeny Irshai and František Gregor Emmert resulted in a string of works “made-to-measure” for the young violinist, who at the same time expanded his performance skills to a point far beyond the limits of the ordinary.

A violinist who is also a virtuoso of the viola, Milan Pala is in demand for first performances of new works, and he has premiered a large number by such composers as Jean Guillou, Evgeny Irshai, František Gregor Emmert, Marian Lejava, Christophe Sirodeau, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Tõnu Kõrvits, Ádám Kondor and József Sári. In recent years he has performed for audiences at several prestigious events showcasing new music, of which the most important included the ISCM World New Music Days 2013, the 28th  and 29th  Music Biennale Zagreb (2015, 2017), Arcus Temporum (Pannonhalma, Hungary) and the Hradec Králové Music Forum in Czech Republic (2013, 2018).

A very busy concert artist, Milan Pala commands a broad concert repertoire. His career as a soloist has led him to cooperation with conductors such as Theodor Guschlbauer, Howard Arman, Alexander Cernusenko, Pierre-André Valade, Andreas Sebastian Weiser, Peter Gribanov, Jakub Hrůša, James Feddeck, Case Scaglione, Ondrej Lenárd and Marian Lejava.

A major project of the ‘enfant terrible of the solo violin’, as Milan Pala was once described in an interview, has been to record the complete works for solo violin by Slovak composers, entitled Violin Solo 1-5. For this momentous undertaking he received multiple awards, including the Prize of the Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic (2014).

Milan Pala’s continuously expanding discography contains many works of the world’s violin repertoire. A significant place  belongs to the recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001–1006 (2018), which is a first recording by Slovak violinist in history. With pianist Ladislav Fanzowitz, he is committed to recording the complete sonatas for violin and piano by major composers, with works by Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, Eugen Suchoň, Edvard Grieg, Dmitri Shostakovich and Béla Bartók having been published so far. A result of the inspiring cooperation of many years between Milan Pala and the conductor-composer Marian Lejava is their critically acclaimed recording of violin concertos by Alban Berg and Karol Szymanowski with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. The recording, which received the Radio Head Award in 2016, has met with favourable response internationally.

A new, unique instrument – a five-string violin – occupies a special place in Milan Pala’s creative output. Dubbed ‘milanolo’, it is a concert instrument that brings a lower, viola register to the violin, and is the first of its kind. It was created in 2013 at the workshop of the Bursík family of violin-makers in Brno, and bears the name of the performer for whom it was conceived. A special CD presenting the instrument in works by European composers created specifically for the occasion has been issued under the title ‘Milanolo’ (2016) and ‘4 Milanolo Concertos’ (2018). 

Terezie Fialová