Jan Beran/ SAMPLES FROM RECENT Vienna Modern Masters-CDs

Swiss composer, pianist, and mathematician Jan Beran was born in Prague and moved with his family to Switzerland in 1968 at the age of nine. He began his early musical studies with the piano; this was followed later by courses in music theory and composition at the University of Zurich. Besides musical studies, he obtained a PhD in mathematics at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich in 1986. After graduation, he was a visiting scholar at various US universities (Stanford, University of Washington, Cornell), a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. He is now Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Konstanz (Germany). His scientific publications include books and articles in mathematical statistics, systematic music theory and performance theory. He is author of the book "Statistics in Musicology". His performances as a pianist include multimedia concerts and concerts where live piano improvisation is mixed with electronic composition (for instance at the KlangArt 99 in Osnabrück). The music of Jan Beran has been recorded for various European and US labels, most notably Centaur Records and col legno. Typical for his compositions are polyrhythmic contrapuntal movements, dedamatory gestures invoking intense emotional depth, and a subtle mix of tonal and atonal elements interwoven by serial techniques, graphical transformations and improvisation. Inspired by his Bengali wife, the study of Indian music led him to form his own musical language with a sense of time, rhythm and musical flow that differs distinctly from traditional western music.


Winter grew out of a "melodic cell" extracted from Vivaldi's L'inverno. The theme appears in disguise and undergoes a continuous metamorphosis. Dramatic changes of emotion invoke an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear, fragility, interrupted by short-lived glimpses of tenderness, certainty, hope. Right at the beginning, a frantic dialogue between oboe and piano sets the pace. A melodious sequence follows, but is soon interrupted by a fast reminiscence of the beginning. After an eruptive cascade of piano chords, ending with a fermata, the initial motives are taken up once more, finally giving way to a melodic legato of the oboe accompanied by a complex interplay of 7-tuplets and 11-tuplets. All themes are combined in a dramatic dialogue. The tension is relieved by a calming oboe solo. Yet the piano joins in again, and takes over with a frantic cadence of fast broken chords and rhythmic figures. An interlude with both instruments ends with a culminating cadence. After a short fermata, the motives are fragmented by soft repetitive tone sequences. The calm before the storm eventually turns into a dramatic reprise of the beginning, accelerating into the final climax.