Vladimír Franz

Prof. Vladimir Franz is a prominent Czech composer, painter and stage music author, six-time winner of the prestigeous Alfred Radok Foundation Award (1998, 2000, 2002 and 2005-2007) and holder of the Theatre News Prize (2001), and since the beginning of 1990’s also one of the leading personalities of Czech post-modern drama. His stage music compositions affected and inspired the work of the most important representatives of the new generation of theatre directors. In his work he has followed the principles of his own theoretical concept of independent status of stage music as one of the determining components of the drama.

Vladimir Franz was born on May 25, 1959, in Prague. Between 1978 and 1982 he studied at the Faculty of Law of Charles University, at the same time taking private painting lessons with the famous Czech painters Karel Souček and Andrej Bělocvetov, studying composition with Prof. Vladimir Sommer, history of art with Prof. Jaromír Homolka and history of music with Prof. Jaromír Kincl. In 1981-1984 he became co-founder, set designer, art designer and composer of the author’s Kytka Theatre. At the present time, he works as head of music dramatics at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts. Until November 1999 he was also chairman of its Academic Senate. 

From 2014 to 2017 he was an adviser to the Czech minister of culture Daniel Herman.

Vladimir Franz’s music creation is extensive. To date, he has composed stage music for more than 160 drama productions, including theatre performances (some of them were released on CD), stage oratorios Judith (Judit, 1999), Ruth (Rut, 2000) and Hercules (Herakles, 2002) and the musical Temptation of St Anthony (Pokušení sv. Antonina, 2001), the oratorio Ludus Danielis (1989) and the same-name opera (2000); the opera The War with the Newts (Válka s mloky, composed 2005, premiere 2013), the opera-oratorio Valley of Dry Bones (Údolí suchých kostí, premiere 2009), and the ballet Goldilocks (Zlatovláska, premiere 2006).

He has composed some 150 songs and ballads, the folk suittes Mardi grass (Masopust, 1984) and Love and Death (Láska a smrt, 1985); music for the performances Construction of the Tower of Babel (Stavba Babylónské věže, 1994) and The Republic Celebrates its Birthday (Republika má narozeniny, 2006); music for the multimedia project Icaros Ascending (Ikarův vzestup, 1995); music for for radio plays Hamlet (2001), The Tempest (Bouře, 2002), and Achajove (2007). Furthemore, he has composed the chamber cantata The Cry of Spectres (Křik strašidel) to the same-name poem of a famous Czech poet and the Nobel Prize winner Jaroslav Seifert, the cantata for a mixed choir Tractatus Pads (based on the text of a medieval European peace agreement proposal and some parts of biblical Apocalypse).

Vladimir Franz has also composed music for the TV play Historical Events (Dějinné události); for the documentaries Journey to Sambhala (Cesta do Sambhaly) and Varga; music for Tomáš Vorel’s feature film The Stone Bridge (Kamenný most, released on CD in 1996 and in 1997); part of the music for Vít Olmer’s movie Waterloo in the Czech Way (Waterloo po česku, 2002); and music for Jakub Hussar’s feature sci-fi movie Skeletons (Skeletoni).

In addition, he has composed the First symphony for solo voices, narrator, children’s choir, mixed choir, organ and orchestra Songs on solitudes (Písně o Samotách, 2003; first performance 2004); the „pocket oratorios Young Men in the Stew (Mládenci v peci ohnivé, 2007) and Prezidentská volba (Presidential Election, 2014); the symphonic overture The Bourgeois Gentleman (Měšták šlechticem, 2007) and the symphonic poems Radobýl (2010; first performance by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra) and Morava (2014; first performance by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra).

Vladimir Franz has also composed organ and drums variations Dialogues (Dialogy), organ Variations in Homage to John IV of Dražice (Variace k poctě Jana IVz Dražie), Variations in Homage to St George (Variace k poctě sv. Jiří), Variations in Homage to St Wenceslas (Variace k poctě sv. Václava), Variations in Homage to St John of Nepomuk (Variace k poctě sv. Jana Nepomuckého), Homage to Vitkov Hill (Pocta hoře Vítkov) and cycles of madrigals Choruses from Oedipus the King (Sbory z Krále Oidipa), Theatre Madrigals (Divadelní madrigaly) and The Radiant Night (Zářící noc).

He has applied his education in a wide range of activities. As a painter, to date he has held 97 independent exhibitions both in the Czech Republic and abroad and participated in more than fifty collective shows, exhibitions and competitions. His works of art are on display in galleries and form part of private collections on three continents.

In 2012 he was also a registered candidate in the 2013 Czech presidential election; in the 1st round of the election, he placed 5th with 6.84% (351,916 votes).

English texts and interviews

INTERVIEW: Fast confession - Vladimir Franz: Leaving politics was like climbing out of a a septic tank into a blooming meadow

27.06.2018 19:34
About the new book, freedom and negative energy in politics.   First and foremost a composer, artist, university teacher, poet, playwright, and occasional journalist. One would say it's not possible to do all that. But the opposite is true. His new book basically looks back over the past....

Vladimir Franz: System’s ultimate purpose is to create a slightly dissatisfied consuming robot (an interview for the YouthTime magazine)

01.05.2015 13:24
In the Czech Republic he is known primarily as an artist - a composer, a painter, an ocassional writer, a poet and a playwright, who has won many awards and received well-deserved recognition for his contributions to culture. Since 1991 he has taught at the Theater Faculty of the Academy of...

Vladimír Franz (An interview for the National Theatre in Prague)

20.10.2013 19:10
You had a passionate relationship with music, theatre and the visual arts when you were a child. Yet later on you studied law. Why? I "composed” my first tiny pieces at the age of six and since that time I have never stopped writing music. When I was at the grammar school, one of my teachers...

...but is it opera? (An article on Vladimi Franz´s opera)

20.10.2013 19:08
OK, full disclosure, I have long been a fan of science fiction. But I had never heard of War with the Newts by the Czech writer Karel Căpek. My first contact with the piece was the working of the novel into an opera of the same name by Vladimir Franz, known informally as the "tattoo man." You can...

News from the Newts (An article on Vladimi Franz´s opera)

20.10.2013 19:05
Even a Heavy-Metal "Aria" Features in State Opera's War with the Newts   Do a heavy-metal aria, a mini pop-musical with video advertisements, canned laughter, and other way-past post-war techniques "belong" in an opera? These techniques are incorporated into the State Opera's production,...

War with the Newts (An article on Vladimir Franz´s opera)

20.10.2013 19:04
Mr. Culture is on the road this month, getting his ears tuned in one of the great music centers of Europe: Prague. This is the land of Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček and Martinů, the place where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni in 1787, and where the Prague Spring festival continues to draw world-class...

A timeless tale (An article about Vladimir Franz ballet "Goldilocks; The Prague Post)

20.10.2013 18:55
"Goldilocks" ballet appeals to audiences young and old As schools shut down for the holidays and snow continues to fall, what are cabin-feverish families with children to do? Fortunately for audiences young and old, the National Theater is offering a performance of Goldilocks, one of their most...

Baroque Landscape is the Best Set Design (An interview with Vladimír Franz)

20.10.2013 18:45
You are the only Czech taking part in the international jury of the Prague Quadrennial; while in fact you work as a composer – not, as far as I know, as a set designer. I’m therefore quite interested in how you attained this particular role.  It is not only music that I am concerned with, but...

Open Gate Student Sings With Czech Republic's Finest

20.10.2013 18:42
Sexta student Zuzana Matiášová performed with accomplished Czech conductors this summer in Liberec. The following article is a diary of her experience.  Bohemia Cantat is a festival of choir singing in Liberec which takes place every year at the end of August. The singers can apply for one of...

Franz's sand "ziggurat" final piece at Sculpture Grande '06 (A report for the Radio Prague)

20.10.2013 18:39
For a number of years now visitors in Prague have been able to view public sculpture in and around the monumental Wenceslas Square throughout the summer months. Titled Sculpture Grande, the exhibition features truly massive works that rise up above the traffic; this year it particularly made...

Franz: a man for three seasons (An article in The Prague Post)

20.10.2013 18:37
This versatile painter is a composer, professor and animal lover Vladimír Franz has made a life out of pursuing the unexpected.  At first glance, with his closely cropped hair, burly physique and full-body tattoos covering pretty much every visible spot of flesh, he looks more likely to...

A day in the life... (An interview for the Prague Tribune)

20.10.2013 18:34
The strenght of Vladimír Franz`s personality is clear the moment you meet him. As are his keen sense of humor and his erudition. Painter, composer, profesor at the Theatre Department of the Academy of Musical Arts (and chairman of its Academic Panel), lawyer, and eternal eccentric, doc.JUDr.Franz...

Vladimír Franz: Incidental music as a dramatic character

20.10.2013 18:32
My honorable friends, ladies and gentlemen, In the first place, let me express my sincere thanks for your invitation, which I welcome not only as an appreciation of my work in the field of incidental music and drama in general. Moreover I see it as an expression of your admirable commitment to an...

Vladimír Franz: The way of incidental music from a semantic sign to a dramatic character

20.10.2013 18:25
Incidental music as a simultaneous dramaturgy Music is one of the essential parts of a theatre performance. Together with stage managing, stage designing, costumes and dramaturgy, it creates a certain dramatic complex. The hierarchy in arrangement of these parts builds up the character of the whole...

Vladimír Franz: Hercules -The concept of a stage oratorio

20.10.2013 18:21
Ladies and gentlemen, Last autumn I tried to answer the question how to celebrate my hundredth work for a theatre without turning it into a pretentious event. Having had my music performed in almost all Czech theatres, I decided to return humbly to the origins of my work on the field of stage music...
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