In Memoriam Juraj Filas

In Memoriam Juraj Filas

Radium Duo

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In Memoriam Juraj Filas

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Liner Notes

Radium Duo: Curtis Biggs, bass trombone; Jackie Bodily Biggs, piano 
Cover art and design: Victoria Schiodtz and Abel Vasques 
Recording engineer: Jason Graham

Dedicated to the composer Juraj Filas, who passed away on New Year's Eve, 2021. Juraj said, "I hope that the music imparts, as always but especially now, what it means to live and have a soul." I hope we can express some of that as we share his music. 

Many thanks to Marta and Stan Kotyza for their generous contribution to this project.

Elephant Song for bass trombone and piano, by Juraj Filas:

Jackie and I had played Juraj's Sonata "At the end of the century" and really liked his writing. I found Elephant Song on Juraj's website and contacted him to get the score. I had to convert currency at the bank and send him cash in the mail to the Czech Republic. Then, he sent me the piece. It came as a copy of the handwritten score and part, still not having been digitally engraved. That was my first interaction with Juraj. Since then, he has sent us several scores and recordings of his music. 

When I see the title Elephant Song together with bass trombone, the first impression that comes to mind might be more comical in nature. But this piece reflects more the grandeur of a noble creature. The atmosphere of the music reminds me of a chapter from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, "Toomai of the Elephants" where a boy witnesses elephants gathering in a clearing. When I asked Juraj where the inspiration for the piece came from, he said it was simply inspired by the sound of the bass trombone. Interestingly, Juraj also wrote a Swan Song for soprano and string orchestra which can be heard on YouTube.

 Sonata for bass trombone and piano ("Dormi, amore, ... dormi!"), by Juraj Filas:

This piece was written for the Radium Duo, as well as a consortium of 20 other bass trombonist that I gathered to fund the commission. Juraj wrote this piece during the 2020 pandemic. The title of this piece means "Sleep, love, ... sleep!" Juraj's wife Danka had passed away before writing this sonata. He wrote a violin concerto in her memory right before composing this piece. This sonata must have been one of Juraj's final compositions, as he passed away the following year.

At the end of the score, Juraj wrote a motto: "Nemůžeš přestat milovat někoho, jen proto, že zemřel," or "You cannot stop loving someone just because they died." In addition to Juraj's feelings for his wife, I think this can also apply to those of us who came to love Juraj's music, and how much we still appreciate him for his musical contributions. 

This piece is divided into two movements: Preludio, and Sonata (which starts at 6'01"). We decided to record the entire piece as one track, as we felt it was better performed as one continuous piece.

Elegy in Memoriam Juraj Filas for solo bass trombone, by Curtis Biggs:

After hearing of Juraj's passing, I wrote this piece in early 2022. Along with one of his scores that I requested, Juraj sent me a recording of his Requiem “Oratio Spei (Prayer of Hope)” for soloists, choir, and orchestra. In this work, Juraj quotes a Gregorian Kyrie (Kyrie IV from Mass IV “Cunctipotens Genitor Deus” from the Kyriale). In the liner notes from the Requiem recording, Juraj explains that he had written a similar melody in other works. When he discovered the Gregorian melody he said, “I thought to myself I must have written the Gregorian Kyrie in an earlier life, back in the Middle Ages." The opening melody of my Elegy is a direct quote from this Gregorian Kyrie.

 I wrote this Elegy as a tribute to Juraj Filas, with gratitude and appreciation for the works he left with us.