Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jakova, Prenkë

(b Shkodra, 27 July 1917; d Shkodra, 16 Sept 1969). Albanian composer, conductor and teacher. He was taught the clarinet and solfège by Gjoka at the Franciscan high school in Shkodër before moving to the state grammar school, from which he graduated in 1934. At this time he was receiving violin lessons and becoming acquainted with opera through vocal scores and foreign broadcasts, as well as with Shkodran folksong. In 1935 he founded a band whose younger members included the composers Harapi, Zadeja, Daija and Gjoni. While working as a teacher in remote northern villages (c1938–42) he collected folksongs, arranging them for band. A few months' study at the Accademia di S Cecilia, Rome, in 1943 was his only academic training. In 1950 he conducted the newly founded amateur Shkodran SO in what was reputed to be the first choral-orchestral concert in Albania, featuring works by Kono, Trako, Daija and Zadeja, as well as Glinka and Dargomïzhsky. The orchestra became a permanent institution in 1951 under the local House of Culture, and Jakova was appointed its director the following year. He achieved greatest prominence during his lifetime with the stagings of his two operas, Mrika in 1958 and Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu in 1968. The latter was commissioned by Enver Hoxha for the 500th anniversary of the death of Scanderbeg, Albania’s greatest national hero: as a result the work was much debated, and negative reviews might have been a factor in the composer's suicide.

One of the most eminent figures in Albanian music, Jakova represented the link between an older generation of semi-professional musicians and a younger generation of professionals who were trained abroad. He not only inspired many of the younger composers under communism but also provided Albania with its first opera and many fine songs, including Në njerën dorë kazmën në tjetrën pushkën (‘The Pick in One Hand, the Rifle in the Other’), which became the signature tune of Albanian Radio's world service. He proved himself an accomplished opera composer: his arias, such as Mrika’s breathtaking Ç’jan Këto trazime (‘What is this Upset?’), and recitatives, beyond their echoes of folksong, betray a deep feeling for the musical inflections of the Albanian language. He also showed an unfailing instinct for dramatic timing and characterization, demonstrated in Mrika by the gradual development of the heroine from a naive peasant girl to a woman ready to fight for both personal happiness and for society. Though Mrika and Skënderbeu (containing at least a dozen beautiful arias and choruses) are both number operas, Jakova uses leitmotifs – at least five in the latter, Scanderbeg's own being based on a whole-tone scale and an augmented fifth interval. If Mrika's libretto might nowadays arouse some political objections, Jakova's reputation as one of Albania's greatest melodists remains nonetheless secure.


(selective list)

Stage: Xhuxhmaxhuxhët or Kopshti i xhuxhmaxhuxhëve [Dwarfs of The Garden of the Dwarfs] (children's operetta, K. Jakova), 1938, Shkodra, 1941; Juda Makabe (melodramma, Gj. Fishta), 1945, Shkodër, 1945; Dasma Shkodrane [Shkodran Wedding] (folk ritual), Shkodër, 1947; Gruri i ri [The New Grain], (musical tableau, D. Shuteriqi), Tirana, 1950; Dritë mbi Shqipëri [Light over Albania] (veprim muzikor [musical action], 2 scenes, Ll. Siliqi), 1951, Tirana, July 1952; Ushtarët e popullit [People's Soldiers] (melodramma, 3, A. Varfi), 1953; Mrika (op, 4, Siliqi), Shkodër, 1956–8, rev. in 3 acts, Tirana, 1959; Dhitë e egra [Wild Goats] (children's operetta, Jakova), Shkodër, 1961; Ylli guximtar [Dauntless Star] (puppet theatre, A. Skanjeti), Shkodër, 1962; Miqësia u mbrujt me gjak [Friendship is Defended with Blood] (musical tableau), 1964; Gjergj Kastrioti – Skënderbeu, (op, 2, Siliqi) [orchd by Jakova, T. Daija, T. Harapi, Ç. Zadeja, M. Krantija], 1966–7, Tirana, 17 Jan 1968; Ushtri e popull, një e të pandare [Army and People, an Undivided Entity] (musical tableau), Elbasan, 1968; incid music (incl. S’ njof pendim [Repentance is Unknown to Me] ‘Song of the First Slave Girl’ and Vallja e Skllaveve [Dance of the Slaves], 1v, 2 fl, ob, hp, T drum, 1962, music for an unidentified tragedy), film scores

Choral: Dimni e trumcaku [Winter and Sparrow], SATTBB; Tantum ergo, e, SAATTBB, hmn, 1941; Hymni i Kolegjës Françeskane, e, vv, 1941; Tantum ergo, d, 1942; Ave Maria, e, 1v, hmn, 1942; Litanit e Zojës [Litany to St Mary], F, T, B, 3vv, hmn, 1943; Kantatë Miqsisë Shqiptaro-Sovjetike [Cantate to the Albanian-Soviet Friendship] (J. Dini), mixed chorus, pf, 1951; Atdhe i heronjve [The Fatherland of Heroes] (cant., A. Çaçi), 1956; Në mes dallgësh sypatrembur qëndron [You Remain Fearless Amidst the Waves] (?cant., P. Sekuj), 1960; Partisë [To the Party] (cant., V. Skënderi), 1960; Litanit e Zojës no.1, g, S, A, T, B, hmn, n.d.; Litanit e Zojës no.2, F, S, A, TI–II, B, hmn, n.d.

Songs (1v, pf unless otherwise stated): Mërdhin trumcaku [The Sparrow Freezes], children's song, chorus, 1937; Kënga e bariut [The Song of the Shepherd], 1940; Kujtimi [Remembrance], 1940; O sa bukur [Oh, How Beautiful], 1941; Dhimbja [Heartache], 1941; Vjollca [Violet] (Jakova), 1941; Zot, erdhen gjindja te huaj [O Lord, Arrive the Gentiles], before 1944; Juda Makabe (Fishta), before 1944; Fryn veriu [A Breath of Winter], chorus, 1946; Gruri i ri [The New Grain] (Shuteriqi), 1950; Mbjelljet pranverore [Spring Sowings] (T. Gjyli), 1952; Pranvera e re [The New Spring] (Gjyli), 1952; Dhuratë zemre [A Present from the Heart] (S. Gera), 1955; Më prit në krahe [Waiting for Me with Open Arms] (Gera), 1955; Moj bardhoshe [O Pale Faced Maiden] (Gera), 1955; Ndije zogun nëpër hije [Listen to the Bird amidst the Shadows], 1955; O e mirë që shkon për ujë [O Fair Maiden, Heading for the Spring] (Gera), 1955; Eshtë e thjeshtë [She is Simple] (Gera), ? after 1956; Gojëdhënë Shqip [Albanian Tradition] (Gera), 1960; Margjelo (F. Ndocaj), 1960; 1 qershori [June 1st] (V. Bala), 1961; Në njerën dorë kazmën në tjetrën pushkën [The Pick in One Hand, the Rifle in the Other] (P. Sekuj), 1961; Syrin si qershia [Eyes Like Cherries], 1962; Shqiptarëve lidh në besë (L. Gurakuqi), 1964; Elegji për Luigi Gurakuqin, 1965; Monolog (Siliqi), B, orch, 1969; Ave Maria; O sanctissima; Kënga e Zojës së Shkodrës [Song of Our Lady of Shkodër], ?vv; Ora e Shqipnisë [The Hour of Albania], B, orch

Inst: Nina-nana [Lullaby], waltz, c, ?pf; Potpuri këngësh shqipë [Pot-pourri of Albanian Songs], band, 1938; Molla [Apple], accdn, 1940; Kërcim [The Leap], waltz, ?pf, 1941; Spartakiada, march, band/orch, 1955; Vallë [Dance], band, 1956; Jemi vëllezër [We are Brothers], 1960; Brigada 27 [The 27th Brigade], march, band, 1969

MSS in Jakova family, Shkodra, Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Central State Archive, both Tirana

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