20 February 2019
Miloslav Penicka (1935-2019)
Composer Miloslav 'Bob' Penicka (1935-2019) has died in Sydney at the age of 83.
Miloslav Penicka was born in Ostrava, Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) in 1935. In 1950 he moved to Prague, where he matriculated in 1953. Five years of study at the Prague Conservatorium of Music were rewarded with a high distinction Diploma in Composition in 1958. Two years of compulsory military service followed. Then he enrolled at the Charles University's Philosophical Faculty which included the Prague Academy of Music Arts, graduating in 1964, also with high distinction in Composition, equivalent to BA Hons or MA.
In 1964 Penicka married Australian violinist Janet Harvey, and followed her to Australia. He taught piano, and worked in the ABC's music library and as NSW music librarian to the SSO, positions which informed his composition style. In 1977 he took up a position at Abbotsleigh Secondary School in Sydney, and the same year married violinist and teacher Sandra Parton.
Penicka received Czech Government Scholarships for 1953-58 and 1960-64 and commissions, in Czechoslovakia and Australia, from organisations and ensembles such as the Pilsen Radio Orchestra (1962), Vycpaleks' Ensemble of Dances and Song, Sydney Grammar School (1980), Lane Cove Youth Orchestra, and Nova Youth Orchestra. He composed a number of solo instrumental works, popular on the HSC syllabus, including Kookaburra's Friends for solo piano, premiered by Ross Hamilton, and Cavatina for cello and piano, which Miloslav's son Martin has performed widely, including for broadcast on the ABC. Cavatina also featured on Volume 2 of the Hush Collection in 2002. In the same year, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra included a movement of his Gemini Suite (1993), 'Up in the Fluffy Clouds', in its education program.
Miloslav is survived by his wife Sandra, his eldest daughter Rachel Atkinson and two grandchildren Kelsea and Daniel, his second daughter Sarah Penicka-Smith, a conductor, and his son Martin Penicka, a cellist with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. His family would like to thank the Australian Music Centre for its support of his work, and also all the music teachers and conductors who have encouraged performances of it since Miloslav arrived in Australia in 1964.
© Australian Music Centre (2019) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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