In honor of Václav Nelhýbel’s (1919-1996) 92nd birthday this Saturday, I’ve chosen him as the Composer of the Week.
Now, you may be scratching your head in wonder about who Václav Nelhýbel might be. His name may not be familiar, but if you’ve ever played in a student orchestra, concert band, wind orchestra, marching band, or ever attended a sports event that had a band of some sort, you’ve heard a Nelhýbel piece. Guaranteed.
He primarily wrote for student performers, and because of the plethora of such organizations around the world, he is one of the most prolific composers of the 20th Century. Nelhýbel was born in the Czech Republic, studied in Switzerland, and emigrated to the US in 1957.
His music is certainly accessible, and since it’s primarily for students, it tends to be in a simpler vein while still communicating a great deal of sophistication. In terms of harmonic structure, Nelhýbel thought in a modal manner. This means that he used older versions of scales rather than the typical major or minor. Learn about modality here. In addition to his works for students, he also wrote 3 operas, 3 ballets, and a symphony. Three is clearly a favorite number!
Enjoy this popular work, “Danza” for student orchestra:
Here is a student concert band of “Festivo” which you’re certain to hear sometime at a HS concert band or sports event at least a few times in your lifetime!