The University of Scranton to Hold Concert Honoring Famous Composer

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Performance Music at The University of Scranton will pay homage to the great composer Vaclav Nelhybel with a concert celebrating the centennial year of his birth.

The Vaclav Nelhybel Centennial Concert will take place Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. inside the University’s Houlihan-McLean Center, Mulberry Street and Jefferson Avenue. The performance will feature The University of Scranton Symphonic Band and internationally acclaimed trumpeter Christian Jaudes. Admission is free, with seating on a first-come, first-seated basis.


At the time of his death on March 22, 1996, Vaclav Nelhybel was the composer-in-residence at Scranton and a beloved mentor to Performance Music Conductor and Director Cheryl Y. Boga.

The composer’s influence is still very much alive at the University, as it is throughout the world. For the past 20 years Scranton has served as the home of The Nelhybel Collection, which includes Nelhybel’s published and unpublished compositions, personal papers, manuscript scores and other valuable materials, all impeccably curated by the composer’s widow.

Among other highlights, the concert will include a performance of Nelhybel’s epic work, “De Profundis,” featuring Jaudes, a faculty member at The Juilliard School and trumpeter on numerous Grammy Award-winning Broadway and studio recordings.

The concert will also feature a poem written in Nelhybel’s honor by Louisiana poet/playwright John Doucet, and reminiscences from University alumni who worked with Nelhybel. Members of the composer’s family will be in attendance.

“This is the official Nelhybel centennial concert,” Boga said. “The concert band is very excited to do a program comprised almost completely of music by our favorite composer, in honor of his memory.”

It’s no overstatement to say Nelhybel was among the most acclaimed, respected and prolific composers of the second half of the 20th century.

Born in 1919 in Polanka, Czechoslovakia, the Jesuit-educated Nelhybel studied composition and conducting at the Conservatory of Music in Prague, and musicology at Prague University and the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Nelhybel first made his name in the years following World War II, when he served as composer and conductor of Swiss National Radio and as a lecturer at the University of Fribourg. In 1950, he became the first musical director of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany, a position he stayed in until moving to the United States in 1957. Nelhybel became an American citizen in 1962 and lived for many years in New York City and Newtown, Connecticut, before settling in Scranton during the last decade of his life.

A staggeringly prolific composer, Nelhybel left behind a rich body of concertos, operas, chamber music pieces and dozens of compositions for symphony orchestra, symphonic band, chorus and smaller ensembles. More than 400 of his works were published during his lifetime, while many of his over 200 unpublished compositions are in the process of being published.

While Nelhybel wrote most of his works for professional performers, he also enjoyed composing original, challenging pieces for student musicians, and took a special delight in collaborating with them.

The University of Scranton Symphonic Band is a 75-member ensemble comprised of members of the University community from majors and departments spanning the curriculum. While none of the student players are music majors, they are united by their mutual love of making music.

For more information on the concert and The Nelhybel Collection, call 570-941-7624, email or visit