Josef Horák - Czech bass clarinet player discovered for the music world a new solo instrument – the bass clarinet. He was the first musician in the world who lidfted up this instrument from only orchestral use to the level of solo instruments. In 1955 (March 24), he organized the first ever feature bass clarinet recitál in the history of music. By the new own embouchure and breath technique upgraded its tone extent, dynamic range, expressive and technical possibilities, he experimented with tone deformations, multifones, etc. Horák’s soft singing tone has bečíme a new sound ideal of the bass clarinet. Horák has influenced the development of the bass clarinet playing in the world by this decisive way. Therefore, world critics call him „Paganini of the bass clarinet“.
„His extensive travels through four continents have helped create excitement for this instrument's capabilities. Horák brings an over-the-top approach to everything he plays. Extraordinarily perceptive in capturing the varied moods of this huge range of literature. Horák cries, sobs, wails, flirts, darts, caresses and otherwise plumb the depths of bass clarinet potentialities.“
Dec. 2000
„Paganini of the bass clarinet“
(CASS News - London)
Une musicalité profonde, une grande virtuosité et une richesse étonnante des sonorités.
The Josef Horák Phenomenon
(The Clarinet - USA)
Mr. Horák is one of the greatest living soloist on the wind instruments.
(International Clarinet Clinic)
Horak's playing must be heard to believe it.
(CASS News)
Through his 50 years of very intensive and universal concert and pedagogic activity in many coutries of the world (on four continents), Josef Horák put the events along the solo bass clarinet into motion, and induced the attention of the music community. He has initiated the creation of more than 500 original compositions for this instrument (in various ensembles), and thereby created a large base of much needed literature which previously did not exist.
From many composers who devoted original compositions to Horák:
A. Hába, K. Reiner, M. Štědroň, V. Kučera (CZ), H. Pousseur (B), K. Strockhausen (D), S. Gubaidulina (RUS), K. Huber (Ch), Van den Booren (NL), N. Heim (USA), V. Dinescu (RO), A. Logothetis (GR), L. Brouwer (C).
From many composers who have authorized their other compositions to Horák’s bass clarinet:
P. Hindemith (D), P. Casals (E), B. Martinů (CZ), O. Messiaen (F), K. Fukushima (JAP).
with young bass clarinets in Denver - USA Makio Kimura - Tokyo in master class with Josef Horák in Prague Josef Horák with his students in stockholm

Antwerp - International bass clarinet workshop

Brno/Czech republic - with prof. Vít Spilka

Rotterdams Conservatorium - with prof. Henri Bok

Biberach/Germany - Bass clarinet Quartett
Josef Horák and Emma Kovárnová in

- Who ist Who in the World - American Biographical Centre, USA
- International Who is Who in Music - International Biographical Centre, Cambridge
- Dictionary of International Biography - IBC, Cambridge
- Five Hunred Leaders of Influence - ABI, USA
- 5000 Personalities of the World - ABI, USA
- Hudební encyklopedie - ČSSR
- Co je co - ČSSR
- Clarinet Virtuosi of Today - Egon Publishers Ltd, England
- International Who is Who of Intellectuals - IBC, Cambridge
- The World Who is Who of Women - IBC, Cambridge
- Foremost Women of the Twentieth Century - IBC, Cambridge
- International Leaders in Achievement - IBC, Cambridge
- The Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet - Anglie
- 2000 Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century - IBC, Cambridge
- Who is Who in the 21st Century - IBC, Cambridge
- Who is ...? (v České republice) - Hübners blaues Who is Who, Schweiz
- 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century - IBC, Cambridge
- Living Legends - IBC, Cambridge
- Outstanding People of the 21st Century - IBC, Cambridge
In the 50th year of Horák’s activity (in 2005), the World Bass Clarinet Foundation was founded.
In October 2005 the World Bass Clarinet Convention took place in Rotterdam (NL) with many different events – informative and artistic: competition of the bass clarinet playing and composition for the bass clarinet, concerts, lectures, presentations of the bass clarinets of different companies, note materials, presentation of the bass clarinet ensemble “Mega Bass Clarinet Choirs” (148 players). These very important moments staged meetings of his colleagues from all continents. This widely grandiose event was successfully organized by a team of many devoted co-workers headed by prof. Henri Bok and George Wiegel.

During of Rotterdam WBC Convention the last performance of Horák took place. He looked in the face of hundreds of colleagues loving “his” instrument. He was accorded by standing ovation and his life dream become true. A month later, he died.
His bravery helped establish the setting of the solo bass clarinet on the concert stage.
This is evidenced by the large interest of composers who for many years compose new compositions for and ever expanding number of bass clarinet players in the world, as well as the establishment of individual classrooms for the study of bass clarinet in different music education institutes.The interpreters – bass clarinet players set out their activities by different ways: they differentiate their interpretation profiles and gain the positions in the area of various creative styles. Thanks to them, the bass clarinet is constantly becoming stronger and a more common part of the family of solo concert instruments.
The foundation of Spanish Bass Clarinet Association (“Asociación Espagňola de Clarinete Bajo”) was very important in this context. In this country, the permanent ensemble “Madrid Bass Clarinet Octet” also originated.
Magazines also play a big role. “The Clarinet” (USA), “Clarinet and Saxophon” (UK), “de Klarinet” (NL), “Rohrblatt” (D) continuously devote their attention to the assertion of the bass clarinet on the concert scene – mainly in the last two years in regards to both Societies. Both World and Spanish Society is the source of useful information and experience.

21.10.2005, Rotterdam - příprava v sále na večerní vystoupení

21.10.2005, Rotterdam - poslední veřejné vystoupení v životě

It is with deep regret that we inform our fiends of the death of
Josef Horák "Paganini of the bass clarinet".
Josef Horák passed away peacefully on November 23, 2005.

Emma Kovárnová

The remains were deposited in the Czech Republic in Central cemetery in Brno,
group 41, grave 159.

By the death of Josef Horák on November 23, 2005 the ensemble “Due Boemi Di Praga”, main bearer of the bass clarinet activity during past 42 years, was established. The rest of the former duo pianist Emma Kovárnová (wife of Josef Horák) gradually passes on all note materials and other wide documentation to the Czech Museum of Music in Prague. She has also donated Horák’s instrument “Selmer”. During the first period of his music activities, Horák spent time with the Czech instrument “Amati”.

Some of the note materials will also be available in the Music Information Center.
Hudební informační středisko www.musica.cz
Besední 3 his@vol.cz
CZ – 118 00 Praha 1
České muzeum hudby www.nm.cz
Karmelitská 2/4 c.muzeum.hudby@nm.cz
CZ – 118 00 Praha 1

Emma Kovárnová
Bubenská 39
CZ – 170 00 Praha 7
Tel.: +420/220-801-889
e-mail: e.kovarnovagooglemail.com

DUE BOEMI is an internationally acclaimed ensemble featuring the finest bass clarinet player in the world - JOSEF HORÁK
The Clarinet - USA (prosinec 1988)
Due Boemi - das Wunderpaar!
(Der Tagesspiegel)
Triumph der Expression
Das Prager „Due Boemi“ in der Reihe „Werk und Wiedergabe“
(Südwest - Presse)
The Due Boemi made recordings for 51 radio and TV studios in Europe and overseas.
One can find in the repertoire of the Due Boemi di Praga also newly discovered music from the Renaissance period (suites of dances and songs by annymous composers of the 15th, 16th and 17th century), of the baroc conatas for a deep melody instrument and basso continuo (Händel, Telemann, Purcell, Marcello and others). In addition, seldom heared classic and romantic pieces of Mozart, Beethoven, Smetana, Dvořák, Schumann, and indeed, there are great many for the Due Boemi di Praga specially composed, dedicated or authorized contemporary opus of different styles.

In Rudolfinum - Prague
Vratislav J. Žižka - 1984
In honor of Josef Horák, the feature concert “Tribute to Josef Horák was included in the “Prague Spring 2007ů” Music Festival. This program presented the versatility of the concert bass clarinet. Professor Henri Bok (NL) and three important Czech bass clarinet players (V. Spilka, L. Daňhel, P. Valá‘ek) appeared on stage. In addition, E. Kovárnová also participated. Once again, the crowded hall documented increasing interest in the bass clarinet – playing.
In the near future, we will inform you how to obtain the CD.


Emma Kovárnová