Johann Cilenšek

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Johann Cilenšek (1967)

Johann Cilenšek (born December 4, 1913 in Großdubrau in Upper Lusatia ; † December 14, 1998 in Erfurt ) was a German composer and music teacher .


Johann Cilenšek was the son of a porcelain turner from Slovenia and attended secondary school in Bautzen from 1924 to 1933 . As a schoolboy he received lessons in playing the zither , piano , violoncello and organ . In 1933 he was committed to the Reich Labor Service and in 1934 worked in the Hermsdorf factory of Hermsdorf-Schomburg-Isolatoren GmbH. Between 1935 and 1939 he studied composition with Johann Nepomuk David and organ with Friedrich Högner at the church music institute of the Leipzig Conservatory . In 1937 he joined the NSDAP . Throughout the Second World War , from 1939 to 1945, he was obliged to work as a grinder and lathe operator at the Junkers aircraft factory . After the war he joined the KPD . When the SPD and KPD merged , he became a member of the SED in 1946 .

In 1945 Cilenšek was appointed lecturer in music theory at the Thuringian State Conservatory in Erfurt . He stayed in this city all his life. In 1947 he moved to the Liszt School of Music in Weimar , where he had been offered a professorship for composition. From 1966 to 1972, Cilenšek succeeded Werner Felix as the university director. Although he was retired in 1978, he still taught there as a lecturer at the music college until 1980. He was also a member of the central board of the Association of German Composers of the GDR , whose Thuringian district association he headed between 1951 and 1956 and again from 1964 to 1966 as chairman. In 1961 Cilenšek was appointed a member of the Academy of Arts , from 1978 to 1990 he was vice-president there.

Johann Cilenšek enjoyed a high reputation in the GDR both as a composer and as a music teacher and was honored with numerous awards.

Audio language

Most of Cilenšek's work is instrumental. The most important part is made up of the orchestral works, with numerous chamber music added, especially in the late work. Vocal music, on the other hand, is only sparsely represented. Initially, from the late 1940s onwards, the composer wrote in a contrapuntal, conservative style that was strongly based on Johann Nepomuk David and Paul Hindemith . Slight influences from Dmitri Schostakowitsch and Béla Bartók are also noticeable. During this creative period five concerts were written , followed by five symphonies a little later in quick succession . From around 1960 onwards, Cilenšek began to use tonality with increasing freedom and dissonance , including twelve-tone music and, later, even under the influence of Witold Lutosławski , aleatorics in his work , albeit to a much more limited extent than him . At the same time, more importance was attached to timbre than before, although counterpoint and polyphony continued to be the dominant element in Cilenšek's works. A characteristic of the composer's development is the fact that he now stopped writing symphonies and concerts in the traditional form and instead chose the formally freer genre of the concert piece as his main field of activity.

Works (selection)

Orchestral music

  • Concerto for orchestra (1948)
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (1950)
  • Concerto for Organ and String Orchestra (1950)
  • Concerto for violoncello and orchestra (1952)
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra (1953)
  • Symphony No. 1 (1954)
  • Symphony No. 2 "Symphony with Funeral Music" (1956)
  • Symphony No. 3 (1957)
  • Symphony No. 4 for string orchestra (1958)
  • Symphony No. 5 "Concert Symphony" (1959)
  • Sinfonietta (1963)
  • Concert piece for piano and orchestra (1966)
  • "Mosaik" for 13 solo strings or string orchestra (1973)
  • Concert piece for violin and orchestra (1974)
  • Concert piece for viola and orchestra (1977)
  • Concert piece for flute and orchestra (1979)
  • Concert piece for horn and orchestra (1982)
  • Concert piece for organ, string orchestra and percussion (1983)
  • Concert piece for trumpet and orchestra (1987)
  • "Silhouetten" for 15 solo strings (1988)

Chamber music

  • Sonata for violin and piano (1948)
  • Sonata for flute, violin and viola (1949)
  • Sonata for flute and guitar (1950)
  • Sonata for piano (1951)
  • Sonata for oboe and piano (1960)
  • Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon (1975)
  • 6 bagatelles for guitar (1985)
  • "Contrasts" for tuba and piano (1986)
  • "Rondo Pensieroso" for accordion (1987)
  • 3 Impromptus for violin, guitar and accordion (1991)
  • "Nachtstück" for flute and harp (1991)
  • "Invocation" for organ (1994)
  • Quintet for piano, 2 violins, viola and violoncello (1995)
  • "Impulse" for violin, violoncello and accordion (1996)
  • "Scenes" for 2 violins, viola and violoncello (1997)

Vocal music



The musical legacy is now in the University Archive / Thuringian State Music Archive Weimar .


  • Matthias Braun , Christian Krause:  Cilenšek, Johann . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Eberhard Kneipel: Johann Cilenšek . In: Dietrich Brennecke, Hannelore Gerlach, Mathias Hansen (eds.): Musicians in our time. Members of the music section of the GDR Academy of the Arts . Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1979, p. 122 ff.
  • Festschrift Johann Cilenšek on his 85th birthday , ed. from the Thuringian Composers' Association, Erfurt 1998.
  • Jürgen Kupfer: Johann Cilenšek - An attempt at approximation , Erfurt 1998.
  • Albrecht von Massow : The composer Johann Cilensek (1913-1998) - A life in five German states , in: Mitteldeutsches Jahrbuch für Kultur und Geschichte , Vol. 22, ed. for the Central German Cultural Council Foundation by Harro Kieser and Gerlinde Schlenker, Bonn 2015, pp. 279–282.


  1. University Archives | Thuringian State Music Archive. Retrieved March 22, 2015 .

Web links

Commons : Johann Cilenšek  - collection of images, videos and audio files