Jaroslav Tůma

Organist, harpsichordist, clavichord and pianoforte player, was born in 1956. He graduated from the Prague conservatoire (from the class of Professor Jaroslav Vodrážka) and from the Faculty of Music of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Professor Milan Šlechta organ, and Professor Zuzana Růžičková harpsichord). Jaroslav Tůma won first prizes in organ improvisation competitions in Nuremberg in 1980 and in the Dutch city of Haarlem in 1986. He is also the laureate of a number of organ interpretation competitions, 1978 Linz, 1979 the Prague Spring competition, 1980 the Leipzig Bach competition, and others.

His many concert activities have extended to most European countries including Iceland; he repeatedly toured the United States and Japan, performed in Singapore and Mongolia.

From 1990 to 1993, Jaroslav Tůma performed in Prague the complete works for the organ of Johann Sebastian Bach, divided into twenty-one concert programmes. He also repeatedly presented Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier as a whole collection on the clavichord. For the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S.Bach in 2000, he prepared the interpretation of, inter alia, the Goldberg Variations, which he performed at the Prague Spring festival, and also in Stralsund and at the Haydn Festival in Dolní Lukavice. Other activities include concerts played on historic instruments or their replicas – besides the organ, also the pianoforte (Paul McNulty), harpsichord (František Vyhnálek) and positive organ (Vladimír Šlajch and Dalibor Michek). In the past he performed on various occasions, both at home and abroad, together with a number of outstanding artists: Gabriela Beňačková, Eva Urbanová, Plácido Domingo, Joseph Malowany, Roman Janál, Franz Brügen, and many others. He had the privilege of working on concert stages under the direction of personalities such as Miroslav Venhoda, Milan Munclinger, Peter Schreier, Libor Pešek, and the Japanese conductor Otaka Tadaaki, under whose baton he gave several performances of Francis Poulenc’s organ concert in Kyoto and Osaka. Jaroslav Tůma’s regular chamber concert partners include the violinists Gabriela Demeterová and Bohuslav Matoušek, the Japanese flautist Yoshimi Oshima and many others.

Tůma’s list of recordings includes almost fifty titles, most of which are solo titles. The `Historic Organs of Bohemia’ CD series captures the authentic sound of rare organs from various epochs, from the Renaissance to the start of the 20th century. Other popular CD projects include the `Bach CDs’, for example the recording of the Organ Mass or The Art of the Fugue – both in collaboration with Giedré Lukšaité-Mrázková. A new release in 2002 was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier played on the clavichord.

Jaroslav Tůma has also made numerous recordings for radio and TV. He is the author and main presenter of an eleven-part series on historic organs broadcast by Czech Television as a part of the `The Best of the Classics’ cycle. He prepares regular programmes for Czech Radio on organ and other classic music. He also strives to support public awareness of valuable historic musical instruments and of the need for their reverent protection and restoration. Tůma’s repertoire covers all periods of style, not neglecting contemporary music, especially organ compositions. He performs, mainly, the works of the key Czech `organ’ composers of the 20th century like Petr Eben (Sunday Music, Laudes, Windows for the Bugle and Organ cycles, and others), Klement Slavický (Frescos cycle), and others. Emphasis is laid on style interpretation and the utilisation of the specific technical possibilities and sound qualities offered by the historic instruments of Bohemian and Moravian organ-building provenance. That is why Tůma‘s favourite composers of this period include, amongst others, Josef Seger, Jan Křtitel Kuchař, Josef Klička and Bedřich Antonín Wiedermann. Besides studying the works of the most significant Romantic organ composers (César, Max Reger), Jaroslav Tůma has devoted himself also to less-frequently played composers; he has prepared and performed Vítězslav Novák’s St Wenceslaus triptych (Prague Spring 1995) and Alois Hába’s Fantasia and Fugue Op. 75b (Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg 2000). He regularly presents Czech music at many festivals and significant concert cycles. During the recent seasons he has performed in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Brussels, Amsterdam, Gent, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, Florence, Barcelona, Vienna, Stockholm, Göteborg, Budapest, Warsaw, Vilnius, Petersburg, Moscow, Ljubljana, Tokyo, Cleveland, Houston, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere.

Improvisation numbers are a specialty of Tůma programmes, when themes proposed by the audience just before the start of the concert result in a musical performance tailored to the instruments used and to the mood of the moment. The sound recordings of some of these musical creations from concerts held from the USA to Japan have been released by Arta records on a CD titled `Organ Improvisations’.
Jaroslav Tůma is an associate professor at the Faculty of Music of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and is often invited to sit on juries of international organ or harpsichord competitions, e.g. the International Competition of the Prague Spring Festival, International Organ Competition in Opava 2002, Internationale Orgelwoche in Nuremberg, Internationaal Orgelimprovisatieconcours in the Dutch city of Haarlem, and the Georg Muffat Competition in Schlägel in Austria. He also shares his experience with others at interpretation or improvisation courses held both at home and abroad.