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COLLEGIUM MUSICUM

Symphonic Prog • Slovakia


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Collegium Musicum biography
Founded in Bratislava, Slovakia in 1969 - Disbanded in 1981 - Reunited thru the 90's and again in 2008

This band was active from 1971 until 1981 with six releases plus one live album. Their style is similar to Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rick Wakeman, and The Nice. There are clear Classical influences. The bands music consisted of Ludovít Nosko (vocals, guitars), Marián VARGA (keyboards), Karel Witz (guitars), Fedor Freso (bass) and Dusan Hájek (drums).

Their albums contain long tracks all composed by Varga. The compositions are solid and have Classical inspirations. An example is "Hommage a J.S. Bach" or "Concerto in D" and other tracks, the guitar have much space supported by superb keyboards (Hammond organ, mini Moog, piano). I support people who think this is one of the best east Europe bands of ever.

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COLLEGIUM MUSICUM discography


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COLLEGIUM MUSICUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 20 ratings
Prúdy: Zvoňte, Zvonky
1969
3.88 | 54 ratings
Collegium Musicum
1971
4.09 | 97 ratings
Konvergencie
1971
3.18 | 35 ratings
Continuo
1978
2.54 | 26 ratings
On A Ona
1979
3.59 | 33 ratings
Divergencie
1981

COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 45 ratings
Collegium Musicum Live
1973
4.37 | 45 ratings
Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum
1975
3.00 | 6 ratings
Cestou k ... Stabil - Instabil
1992
3.80 | 15 ratings
Collegium Musicum '97
1997
3.87 | 19 ratings
Speak, Memory (CD+DVD)
2010

COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.18 | 15 ratings
Hommage ŕ J. S. Bach / Ulica plná plásťov do dazďa
1970

COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 On A Ona by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.54 | 26 ratings

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On A Ona
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars The songwriter type of music prevails on this swang song of Collegium Musicum in the 70's. However, the compositions are better than on the previous album - clear melodies, great vocals of important singers in Slovakia at that time and solid playing. It's just that the average CM fan would expect more substance and keyboard wizardry. Most of tracks are short pop-infected songs with keyboard arrangements, synths/piano - even if clever. "Nobelova cena za lasku" has a dated sound and nice synth motive with organ in the end.

"Osvetlovac" is one of the highlights with its bluesy feeling and retro-organ arrangements in the middle.

"Amata nobis, quantum amabitur nulla" is the biggest winner, a mixture of solemn church organ first and last parts and drum/bass joined symphonic part with Hammond. The clear message to all fans who thought that Varga could not handle prog rock with grace. We even have Mellotron here and synth a la Tony Banks. Truly a great composition and Varga playing showcase.

The album as whole is, apart from its 10-minute track "Amata nobis ..." not recommended to prog rock fans but otherwise it's a pleasant record even if pop and prog do not always blend well together.

 Continuo by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.18 | 35 ratings

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Continuo
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Kudos to Marian Varga who updated his keyboard arsenal to sound more contemporary - gone are Hammond and finally we hear analogue synthesizers and Moog. Playing is closer to progressive rock than classical music/hard-rock. There is a good balance of soloing and chords. Bass guitar and guitar have been updated too, they sound less raw and the bass has the funky groove sometimes. Drums have become perhaps too comtemporary reflecting the funk rhythms. There are only 3 compositions but don't be tricked by their length. Both long compositions are too long and the amount of their ideas could shrink the length by a half. The vocal is a typical pop vocal not very suiting this type of music but the album shows first hints of more pop songwriter approach from a vocal perspective. All three pieces have solid prog-rock motives but there's not enough development to justify the album length; they could have been better developed - in particular the sung parts are repetitive. "Continuo" has a perfect start bordering on jazz-rock, clever layers of synths and drums reflecting the dynamic spirit but then it lowers down to a disco rhythm so only keyboard remains interesting. The mid part falls a bit flat, a quiet reflective part, then keyboards including piano get more dynamic. Singing does not particularly help either in the end. Over all, while sonically interesting, the concept of having progressive rock keyboards with the rest of pop-rock inclinations does not fare well here. I give it 3 stars because of Varga's playing but it nearly missed it.
 Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 1975
4.37 | 45 ratings

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Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I think this is the best live album by Collegium Musicum because there is a right balance of freshness, being progressive without too experimental and the entire band is contributing unlike on "Live" from 1973 with extreme keyboard dominance. Symphonic music inspiration remains, this time from Hungary (Bartok) and Russia (Prokofiev). Varga shows his versatility by utilising Hammond (quiet and aggressive passages), piano (elegant a la classical music). Drums are intensive, in particular on "Mikrokozmos" they play a nice progressive pattern. Guitar is fine and more than complementary but less distinctive. There is quite a lot of variations, playing never gets too pretentious or complex. Varga shows a variety of styles and moods. His mellow passages with subdued organ sound particularly tasty such as the first elegant part of "Hudba k vodometu" where organ sound reminds of water which matches the song title. We even have the sound of electric piano there. In any case, both Varga and the drummer are in top shape, this album is well worth listening to.
 Collegium Musicum Live  by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 1973
3.59 | 45 ratings

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Collegium Musicum Live
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars First new material after the ingenious "Konvergencie", this is a live album at the same time. Left without a guitar player, Collegium Musicum soldiered for some time as a trio. Varga logically outshined his two members on this album as his keyboards are almost everywhere. I think it's partly inspired by classical music as the name and some sections suggest. "Si nemozna (You are impossible)" with two parts has a fantastic opening with deeply progressive and frenetic interplay among a chord motive. The bass is less memorable. Varga again resorts to more experimental playing on Hammond with non-melodic runs. "Monument" has an overly long drum solo and is otherwise dominated by powerful Hammond.

Even though there are a couple of strong moments, the live is not always easy to digest and it takes longer time to understand why Varge played it the way he did.

 Konvergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.09 | 97 ratings

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Konvergencie
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars The peak of classical Collegium Musicum era. The band sounds more original than on their debut album, compositional skills are improved but there is enough space for the loose jam feel. Hammel from the previous tenur with Prudy joins and his skilled voice fits here well. In comparison to other keyboard based bands, Collegium Musicum is less virtuoso related and contains some lengthy experimental keyboard sections which are an acquired taste and diminish the almost 5 star rating. Let's also mention the improved guitar playing, this time with the young guitar legend Frantisek Griglak.

Among quite unique moments belong children choir sung in Slovak in PF 1972, the final majestic organ chord sequence in the experimental "Eufonia".

For most listeners, the biggest highlight will be the melodic "Piesne z kolovratku" which in its 18 minutes contains more ideas than some entire progressive albums. It is a tour-de-force of accessible pop-prog-rock. It contains an excellent instrumental start for the first two minutes. The combination of soaring guitar and Hammond is irresistible. Hammel's voice is full of hope and emotions as the more pop+classic section starts. Elegant piano keeps the music flowing. After a non-essential drum solo, we have an acoustic piece with mandolina and tambourine then an electric guitar comes into play - another inventive part. An upbeat rocking passage follows before a bit avantgarde Hammond sounds start. A few changes happen - seems like a completely new song with a Mediterranean feel suddenly cut by pipe organ and a very pompous chord sequence that alternates between classical and avantgarde music. The choral is competitive to any ELP chorals with pipe organ. It's a very haunting piece with soothing voice. The pipe organ could have been more melodic and after several listens, you start to appreciate Vargas wizardry on pipe organ. Giving it a purely baroque feel would have been too conventional for him!

PF 1972 is the track most related to the stereotypical progressive rock with multiple sections, instrumental jams - bluesy guitar and versatile Hammond. The music sounds majestic, a bit raw and classically influenced.

"Suita po tisíc a jednej noci" is a live recording of Hammond, guitar, bass and guitar with a couple of memorable motives particularly by Hammond. Guitar playing is convincing and strong, too but the bass guitar is very much alive, too.

"Eufonia" is the weakest track on this album with one exception - the last 4-5 minutes after the lengthy Hammond experimenting which is unlistenable after the 14th minute turns into a pipe organ bona fide. The sequence of chords with starts simply to the most majestic with maybe even 4 hands playing in the end is fantastic.

Overall a vary varied effort and a must for keyboard-based proggers. Almost 5 stars.

 Collegium Musicum by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 54 ratings

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Collegium Musicum
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The first progressive album by the band. The most advanced instrument that easily overpowers others are keyboards. Loads of keyboards everywhere. The guitar, drums are a bit shy and restrained, in fact sound closer to the 60's beat than progressive rock. Hammond organ can easily compete with the maestros from Western Europe,does not lack in expressivity, boldness and experimentation.

Obvious influences are classical music, a bit of jazz-rock especially in the sung "If you want to fall". There aren't any great advanced compositional elements. The best parts in that context are in the covered "Concerto in D" which sounds majestic.

"Strange Theme" has a good melody and subtle organ chords. This composition reveals the depth of Vargas talent able to mix rock and classic motives with a bit of avantgarde sounding textures. The jazzy 3/4 instrumental section gives particular space for the bass and Hammond, eventually the guitar providing a straightforward rocking solo.

"Concerto in D" brings orchestra and majestic Hammond to the surface, pretty well executed even if not bringing much exploration.

 Divergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.59 | 33 ratings

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Divergencie
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Divergencie has several music messages incorporated in its body: continuation of sheer ambition and talent from the 10- years old "Konvergencie" that stirred the surface of progressive rock in central Europe, updated sound, all-star vocals of Slovakian part of Czechoslovakia and conceptual topics. 80 minutes are definitely worth listening and the music should be acceptable to pop, rock and progressive rock fan with even a dose of joy for classical music and jazz music listener. The first suite "Refreny" offers a surprising jazz-rock ouverture in "Refren" with keyboard leads, guitar, bass taking solo and a plenty of good contemporary prog-rock moments.

"P.F" is a mini-suite of many sketches with beautiful angel children choir, orchestra and instrumental music not too unsimilar from P.F. 1972 on "Konvergencie". For symphonic oriented fans, this is the suite to go for.

"Musica concertante" is a classical music inspired suite.

"Sadza do obalky" is the only dinstinctively poppy part but convinces with good vocals and melodies that show emotions and will stay in your mind like worms.

I like this album better than 1977 and 1979's efforts as it is more ambitious, maybe less pompeous and testifies the development of Marian's Varga gifted craftmanship.

 Prúdy: Zvoňte, Zvonky by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.62 | 20 ratings

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Prúdy: Zvoňte, Zvonky
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars This crowning jewel is the best pop-rock album with classical and progressive leanings out of Czechoslovakia from the 60's! It documents a moment of time when young but already extremely ambitious Slovak artists were hoping for things in the country and their lives to improve and the future seemed to be brighter for a moment (not after 1969). Still, in the lyrics, metaphores had to be used to get approval to release the album.

The two major creative forces behind the album are the singer and rhythm guitar player, Pavol Hammer, and the keyboard aficionado Marian Varga, who contributed all songs to the original album edition. Varga showed a major talent at young age and managed to absorp classical music while remaining interested in the current classical-rock leanings of the 60's. The dominant instrument is, by no surprise, the key-based instruments such as piano, organs and harpsichord. It's amazing how the young Varga accompanies and arranges the songs with ease. Hammel has a unique voice colour and layered vocals are inspired by the contemporary psychedelic 60's bands. Busy drums, walking bass a la McCartney by the gifted Fedor Freso and psychedelic guitar add additional flavour to the music.

"Zvonte, Zvonky" was a major commercial hit in Czechoslovakia reminding people of hopes of a better future. It features a nice guitar solo and memorable instrumental moments by all instruments. "Pred vykladom s hrackami" is a lighter track and the only one with a hidden hard-rock leaning. Listen to harmony vocals in the chorus section. The next track is a psychedellic ballad about a young male who chose lie instead of truth. Musically, it is the simplest track on the album, albeit with the memorable oboe solo. "Jesenne Litanie" is a pleasant pop track with harmony vocal staccatos. "Ked odchadza kapela" is one of the higlights on the album and another track played commonly on the radio. It is also one of the most ambitious compositions by Varga on this album. This 20's pastiche, probably inspired by "When I'm 64" has a pleasant brass section. Varga contributes great piano lines, Freso old-fashioned contrabass and mandoline. The surprising end changes the mood to an American psychedelic soul territory.

"Pod so mnou" is a clear nod to British psychedelia, the drums, bass and guitar dominate for most of the time. The romantic symphonic interlude violin-led interlude is a great contrast to the rock-sounding main song motive. Varga displays another clever use of piano fill-ins. "Mozno, ze ma rada mas" in the 3/4 rhythm and especially "S rukami vo vreckach" are two memorable ballad tracks. The latter one is using church organ dueled by vocals, the atractive combination that will be heard in "Collegium Musicum" legendary Konvergencie again. "Mozno" is a less important track but again, the baroque piano accolados by Varga bring it to the next level. The album ends on a high note with "Cierna ruza" that combines psychedelic, classical and pop influence together.

Overall, this is an excellent addition for proggers who are interested in the proto-prog or want to see the beginnings of Fedor Freso and Marian Varga, the two major creative forces of Collegium Musicum.

 Konvergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.09 | 97 ratings

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Konvergencie
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Active for just over a decade before initially folding in 1981, Slovakian band Collegium Musicum, founded by and mostly driven musically by keyboardist Marián Varga, delivered what is probably their defining musical statement in 1971 with their lavish double LP `Konvergencie', an ambitious and varied eighty-two minute opus full of exceptional playing. Offering four extended collections of music (a mix of studio pieces and live performances), each side holds a single multi-sectioned suite of grandiose music crammed with classical aspirations, symphonic bombast, psychedelic mystery and even enjoyable pop/rock pieces, similar to parts of The Nice, the first `Trace' album, Triumvirat, M.Efekt and Focus, with traces of Krautrock daring and the earliest psych-era works of many of the vintage Italian prog bands as they began to branch out with more adventurous music.

Opening twenty-two minute epic `P.F 1972' is a seven-part suite full of infectious pomp, highlighted by Marián Varga's energetic and grand reprising Hammond organ themes. A tastefully swooning organ motif slowly builds in drama, incorporating Franti?ek Griglák's bluesy electric guitar soloing for wilder breaks, shimmering psychedelic dreaminess around softly twinkling cymbals and rambunctious drum bluster. `Part IV' is bookended with an infernal gently-brooding murkiness that is punctuated by searing Hammond blasts, Focus-like fiery guitar wails and maddening staccato piano stabs, the playful and whimsical `Part V' passage wouldn't have sounded out of place on Rick Wakeman's early discs, there's rambunctious feel-good bursts (`Parts III and VII') with Du?an Hájek's crashing drumming, and even a children's choir singing prettily through the second and sixth moments.

Side B's five-part ` Suita po tisíc a jednej noci' is a live performance that incorporates lengthy instrumental jamming passages weaving in and out of themes lifted from Rimsky-Korsakov's `Scheherazade'. Constant pounding drums and plentiful raging electric guitar searing and slow-burn bluesy come-downs remind of both Focus and Finch, and there's some softer jazzier musings, Fedor Freěo's rumbling bass-fuelled deranged call-to-arms and churning hard psychedelic meltdowns. Think a more spontaneous version of E.L.P's `Pictures at an Exhibition', and the rougher recording quality in comparison to the studio sides helps to give the piece an addictive added toughness.

The eight-part `Piesne z kolovrátku' on the third side fuses several kinds of warmly sung vocal pieces with intricate instrumentations, racing through everything from fancy and joyful piano upbeat ballads (part 2 `Piesne z kolovrátku'), quirky ditties and psych fragments (the few `Interludium' sketches), booming organ/choir reflections (`Choral') and energetic pop-rockers (part IV `Tvoj Sneh') within eighteen minutes, reminding of Modry Efekt and even the Beatles.

The twenty-minute `Eufónia' that closes the set is a five-part vacuum of space music distortion. The introduction may be all grooving Hammond whirling around a foot-tapping beat and smouldering electric guitar embers, but the pieces soon mutates into howling psychedelic reaches that almost call to mind the early Pink Floyd years, splintering and reverberating electronic violations (traces of Egg's `Boilk' from their `Police Force' album buried in there!) meandering into Krautrock-like fuzzy explorations and skittering Rick Wright/`Ummagumma'-era cascading piano nightmares before a final trippy space-out of alien voices (most likely that children's choir from the first piece, just given an `alien baby' makeover here!) and a serene ambient organ send-off. It's directionless and hardly cohesive, but a glorious fuzzy mess of tasty noise all the same.

Yes `Konvergencie' is over-indulgent and also a little dated these days, yet it also remains massively inspired and daring, as so many of the best albums from the most adventurous decade of rock music were allowed to be. Ticking a lot of boxes and offering exciting music in a whole range of styles here, just ignore the bland cover, and look forward to the eclectic psychedelic twists and lashings of bombastic symphonic gold within instead from Collegium Musicum!

Four and a half stars.

 Collegium Musicum Live  by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 1973
3.59 | 45 ratings

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Collegium Musicum Live
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars The lineup and the instrumentist's skills, and also the kind of music can not make the listener think to an Emerson Lake and Palmer clone, but please look at the release dates: this live album was released one year after Picture at an Exhibition. If you think to the complexity of the compositions, how long do you think the band has taken to compose, rehearse, arrange and play it live? Of course Marian Varga can have take inspiration from Keith Emerson's work with the Nice and in the early ELP, but he's a skillful keyboardist who lives and plays in a country which has a strong cultural background in classical music and was also on the other side of the iron curtain. Are we sure that they have listened to the ELP albums released in 1972 before composing the four tracks of this album?

Let's quit here the discussion about cloning or not and concentrate on the music only.

The first beats of "Burleska" can effectively remind to Picture at an Exhibition, but most of the track is closer to Grieg than to Mussorsky. Of course it's an instrumental track full of different moments. The "Mussorsky part" opens and closes it circularily.

The second track is split in two parts mainly because of vinyl restrictions. IN this track there's room also for the other instrumentists, not only for Varga. In Part1 there's a remarkable bass solo, and to my ears the source of inspiration for the composition is Stravinskij. Part 2 is a bit more chaotic, and effectively the distorted remind to Rimsky-Korsakov sounds very Emersonian. The long keyboard interlude (not properly a solo) is a little boring, but it's counterbalanced by the excellent final of the track which has a huge number of different signatures.

The last track, "Monumento" starts with a bass harping. I still hear Stravinskij (Rites of Spring) in the initial organ notes. Now also the drummer Dusan Hájek has his moment. It's not a solo but his drums are really in evidence. AFter some minutes basically of drums and bass with little intervents from the keyboards a true drum solo starts. It's 1973, a long drum solo can't be missed in a live album of this kind. As many other solos of this kind this is a bit too long and the coda too short.

In brief, this album is very far from that masterpiece that's Konvergencie. This album fits perfectly in the 3-stars definition, also because CM albums are usually not cheap. If you have some extra money to spend on this band, go for Konvergencie.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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