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Marián Varga (29 January 1947)

From six years he attended music school and the same time took private composition lessons with later famous classical composer Ján Cikker. Later he became a student of the Bratislava Conservatory where he studied piano with Roman Berger and composition with Andrej Očenáš.

He left the conservatory after three years in 1967 to become a member of the group Prúdy, and contributed to the legendary album Zvoňte zvonky. He left Prúdy in 1969 as suddenly as he had left conservatory to establish the art rock band Collegium Musicum with Fedor Frešo (bass), Dušan Hájek (drums) and Fedor Letňan (guitar). The repertoire of Collegium Musicum, comprising mostly instrumental pieces, included reinterpretations of the themes of classics such as Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky, complemented by original compositions. In 1970 they recorded a debut single ‘Hommage à J.S.Bach / Ulica plná plášťov do dažďa‘. The EP was received well and the band was contacted by new Slovak-based label Opus to record an entire album. The original artwork for the album featured the band at Bratislava castle but this kind of Slovakian heraldy was a step too far for the officials. Opus changed the cover and the first Slovakian rock-album was a fact (selling 140.000 albums). Meanwhile guitarplayer Letňan left the band to be replaced by Prudy guitarist František „Fero“ Griglák. With him CM started working on ‘Konvergencie’, an album bearing signs of postmodernism composed music (Eufónia is an example of that), which later became the basic principle of their work. Again the cover art work was good for controversy showing a young man smoking (which the officials did not approve of but did not change). Problems with the application of guitarists stayed however and a 1973 live album was even recorded as a trio. By 1975 Ivan Belák and Jozef Farkaš replaced the bass and guitar section making Varga almost the only original member (a year later drummer Hájek would be replaced by Peter Szapu). No wonder Varga’s name was prominently on the third studio album.

By 1977 all line-up changes were reversed leaving the recording of ‘Continuo’ almost in the hands of the original line-up of 1971. In 1979 the new, and final assembly of CM featured drummer Paul Kozma and guitarist Peter Peteraj. Guest guitarist was Pavol Hammel (former from Prúdy) on their last official album ‘Divergences’. By 1980 the group actually broke up and Marián Varga went on solo career. Among other achievements, he became a pioneer of absolute improvisation (real-time composition) in Slovakia. Only one studio album came out ‘Stále tie dni‘ (1984). In the meantime he continued to contribute to popular music with an ongoing collaboration with guitarist Pavol Hammel. This led to five collaborated albums and to the first rock musical in Slovakia ‘Cyrano z predmestia’. In the Nineties Varga also assembled Collegium again performing on and off. This even resulted in a comeback live album ‘Collegium Musicum '97’. In 2008 the group re-assembled again with Francis Griglák (guitar), Fedor Frešo (bass) and young jazz drummer Martin Valihora. In 2009 they toured Slovakia ending at the Arena Theatre in Bratislava which was recorded for a CD/DVD released as ‘Speak memory’ in 2010.  

On the web:

- Collegium's website: http://www.collegiummusicum.sk/

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

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What do we think:

DB: Due to the main role of organist Marian Varga Collegium Musicum is often catagorized by Anglo-American prog-fans as a Slovakian copy of Keith Emerson's work with the Nice and Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP). In doing so they completely ignore the fact that reworking classical music in a rock-manor (with synths and organs) is about the only comparison and not the only thing Collegium stood for. For Slovakians their music meant freedom and identity in a time when Czechoslovakian officials weren't to keen on that. The classical composer's selected were often from Slovakian decent and unlike ELP Collegium's aproach was more based in jazz-improvisations then on progressive rock. Although their music is far from easy listening the band still has a high status in Slovakia.


- Collegium Musicum - 1970

♪♪♪♪ - Konvergencie - 1971

- Collegium Musicum Live - 1973

♪♪♪ - Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum - 1975

- Continuo - 1978

- On a ona - 1979

- Divergencie - 1981

- Collegium Musicum '97 - 1997

- Speak memory – 2010

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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