Vladimír Hirsch , the Czech composer, has developed his own aesthetics and unique style of music in the last 30 years. Being not afraid to experiment in order to create, he combines his classical studies and his journey through post-punk , industrial and dark ambient sounds. The result is a soulful new path in the universe of music. That’s the world of Vladimír Hirsch: unique and magic.

Hello Vladimír, you are coming from Prague a historical city that is a famous tourist destination nowadays. Tell us few things about the Prague music scene and life over there in general.

Of course I love Prague, but the city as a popular holiday destination has an impact on the lives of its residents. The historical sites are overwhelmed by tourists and moving around the city to enjoy the beauty can get really annoying for the citizens. The music scene in Prague and the whole of Czechia [1] – at least  the one I have been active in so far without feeling like I belong to the same genre – is very small and fragmented, with hardly any labels interested in dark ambient or similar genres. The current situation cannot be compared to the 1990s and the verge of the century when activities in the field of avant-garde music flourished, above all thanks to the long existence of the international Prague Industrial Festival, organized by Ars Morta Universum platform, that is my colleagues from Skrol band, Tom Saivon and Martina Sanollová. They brought an amazing amount of musicians from around the world to Czechia and established a more concentrated artistic cooperation. The festival was not strictly “industrial”; it covered all kinds of avant-garde music. Unfortunately, it stopped for financial reasons.

Is it easier or harder being a musician in Czechia in comparison to being one in other countries?

As I mentioned before, being a musician in the field of “experimental” -I do not like this word because it implies something coincidental and I am certain that I know what I do- or avant-garde music in Czechia, is hard.

Listening to your works, one can find traces of industrial, classical, ambient, noise, experimental and even experimental jazz in some parts. Sometimes, your work would even bring to our mind the Greek composer Iannis Xenakis.  What are your influences then?

I do not like genre inclusion. However, I do understand the occasional necessity to simplify things to be able to work with words. My education is classical and I passed through several periods in my history with music- the standard classical music, experimental jazz or post-punk- before I found my own musical direction. I could write a very long paragraph of influences and a huge list of artists in general but will mention the names of those that really tempted me to do similar work. From music, I have always been attracted to the spiritual strength in the aching reality of the Czech composer Miloslav Kabeláč, the close encounters of space and detail of György Ligeti, the mathematical order in chaos of Iannis Xenakis that you mentioned, the ability to move in micro space of Giacinto Scelsi as well as the pure and sharp bone-penetrating or animate industrialism of SPK.

Tell us a few things about your musical past; you used to play in a post-punk band many years ago, right?

Yes, except for my solo works, I also have had several musical projects – the post-punk band Der Marabu in 1980s, the more or less neoclassical martial industrial Skrol, the dark ambient Aghiatrias, the dark electronic Subpop Squeeze, Luminar Ax and Tiria. In all of them, I have tried to develop other facets of music I am associated with, this or that way. I have been composing since I was a teenager, when – as a pianist and an organ player – I started to write classicist pieces with elements of experimental rock.

In 1986, I joined the post-punk band Der Marabu and simultaneously started to apply modern classical forms to electronic music. This resulted in a more transgressive industrial style and the foundation of Skrol. It was the point when my idea of the so-called “integrated” musical form was born:  a transformation of modern classical and dark ambient, industrial and noise components into a homogenous indivisible structure.


Apart from your musical influences, what else inspires you to write music?

Music is the other eye to help me see and the stretched hand I use to search beyond. Can anything be more inspiring?

What other forms of art and which artists in particular inspire you?

My artistic philosophy or general visions were partially inspired by painting and literature: the renaissance and mainly modern abstract visual art, spiritually oriented artists, the metaphysical transformation in Mikuláš Medek’s paintings [2] above all. There are a lot of particular inspiration sources in both poetry and prose- Graham Greene’s salvation of the damned or Jorge Luis Borges’s imaginary worlds, for instance.

Being someone with a musical education, why did you choose to create in a more experimental field than to follow the path most composers do?

Above all, I am interested in searching my own expression, in finding cohesion within my personal philosophy, thoughts and feelings; simply being authentic. I do not want to repeat what has already been done, to live the life of somebody else. I am used to working in consecutive phases: idea, conception, creation. Ideas are elusive; they cannot be counted as a regular phase of work, yet they seem to be resulting from an inner continual process of search that has a life of its own. At the moment, when an idea is born in my consciousness, it remains there like some permanent question mark until the end of the work.

The name of your other project, Aghiatrias, is a collage of the Greek words ‘Aghia’ and ‘Trias’ meaning Holy Trinity. Are you religious? Is religion or spirituality in general amongst your influences?

Yes, you hit the target. I work with some philosophical principles, both consciously and, mostly, unconsciously. Those ideas result in a natural flow of expression. Spiritual insight is definitely my main inspiration, as are the themes of de-spiritualisation, materialistic decay and anthropocentrism of the modern human. This conflict represents metaphysically the central idea of my concept of “integrated music”, which consists in the collision and reconciliation of two seemingly spiritually opposite worlds inside of an individual.

Modern age, developing technology and music: What do you think that future will bring for music? In addition, for your last three albums, you preferred digital to physical format. Are you keeping track of the digital era? 

Technology, in general, has helped my musical aims a lot; it has extended the action potential for both means of expression and independence from other people which is very important for me. I am not a prophet, but, in my opinion, music, and not just it, has been stuck for a long time at an impasse. For reasons mentioned above, i.e. de-spiritualisation, the natural values have been quietly substituted by their holograms. The result is formal art without content. It is no fault of modern technology; everything can be misused. The crucial question is how much space we are willing to give to those cheap idols. In the case of my last albums, the reasons for digital releases were prosaic – the lack of publishers, because I am a bit too prolific. Of course, a physical release would have been much better.

You are returning to Greece a few months after your last performance. Is Athens an inspiring city? Are you looking forward for this masters’ reunion?

The cradle of European civilization is always an inspiring place. I thank you for the invitation I am definitely looking forward to it!

[1] The name Czechia, although hardly ever used in the English-speaking world, dates back in the 19th century. In 14th April 2016 the country’s political leadership voted to register “Czechia” as the official English-language short name at the United Nations (Ed.).

[2] Mikuláš Medek (1926-1974) was a Czech painter. With his abstract, surrealistic art, Medek, is considered among the most important exponents of the Czech modern painting in the post-war period (Ed.).

Anastasia Andreadou – Christos Doukakis