Prenkë Jakova bigraphy, stories - Compose, musician and author

Prenkë Jakova : biography

27 June 1917 - 16 September 1969

Prenkë Jakova (27 June 191719 September 1969) was a well known Albanian composer, musician, and author of Mrika, which premiered in 1958 and is popularly considered the first Albanian opera. A native of Shkodër, he studied under Martin Gjoka and Zef Kurti, and he was also an alumnus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. A virtuoso clarinetist he worked as a music teacher for most of his life and distinguished himself as the mentor of the four most important composers of classical music from northern Albania: Çesk Zadeja Tish Daija, Tonin Harapi, and Simon Gjoni. Jakova was the director of the music band and of the House of Culture of Shkodër. Besides Mrika, Jakova also composed Skënderbeu, another opera which premiered in 1968.

Along the operas Jakova left to posterity many songs and other musical pieces, several of which are commonly believed to be Albanian folk music, rather they are Jakova's compositions. He was imprisoned by the Albanian communist regime for his brother's political opposition to it and was demanded to work more than he could bear. Despaired and stressed from the excessive demands on his work, he killed himself in 1969. His legacy is that of one of the most important Albanian composers of all times.



At 18, Jakova was nominated artistic director of his school band and his first students were Çesk Zadeja, Tish Daija, Tonin Harapi, Simon Gjoni, Tonin Rrota, Zef Gruda, and many other famous Albanian composers. Jakova started to compose marches and other pieces. On January 2, 1936 he was sent to teach in Bërdicë where he took care of the musical education of the children. There he learned to play the guitar. During the summer of 1939 he purchased an accordion and learned that too. At that point he was an advanced, sometimes virtuoso player of the clarinet, the guitar, and the accordion. In 1939 Jakova went to teach in Orosh, Mirditë District, where he wrote a piece for accordion entitled "Mall" (), and later the song "Fyelli i Bariut" (), whose text is unknown to us today. This was the first song of Jakova whose text and music had been both composed by him, according to the tradition of the aheng from Shkodër (). In 1940 Jakova was transferred back to Shkodër where he started a cycle of songs for children and an operetta on two acts entitled "Kopshti i Xhuxhmaxhuxhëve" (). In the academic year 1941-42, Jakova was again transferred in Katërkollë, a village close to Ulqin and Osho in the Krajë region of Yugoslavia, to where he would commute with his bike from Shkodër, covering every day. In 1942 he went to study clarinet at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy where he finished with excellent results.

In 1944 Jakova was hired by the chorus of the First Partisan Brigade of the House of the Youth where he was named director. During this time he was arrested by the communist regime and held in prison because his brother had been an opponent of the regime, persecuted, and killed by the communists. His former alumni, Çesk Zadeja and Tonin Harapi witnessed that, once released from the prison, Jakova went back to work and started to go to work at 7 in the morning and go back home only by late night. The group gave performances not only in Shkodër but also in various cities of Yugoslavia, such as Ulqin, Cetinje, Titograd etc. In 1947, Jakova wrote a cycle of songs entitled "Dasma Shkodrane" (), with which he represented his city in a song festival in Tirana. During 1948-1951, Jakova worked as a music teacher in two schools of Shkodër and never quit for a single day practices of the chorus and the orchestra of the House of Culture of Shkodër. At that time he composed the song "Gruri i ri" () with a text of Dhimitër Shuteriqi, which was put on stage from Pjetër Gjoka along with other songs which were brought to the 1950 Festival in Tirana.

At the beginning of the 1952 festival in Albania there were high quality soloists and good symphonic orchestras. In June 1952 poet Llazar Siliqi was put in charge to write a poetry on youth's work on a new hydroelectric power station, which was being built on the Mat river. The piece started as a song, but afterward it took a longer shape and was divided into two movements called Dritë mbi Shqipëri (), and was presented in 1952 in Tirana. The piece was nothing but the embryo of the first Albanian opera, Mrika, which was worked upon by Jakova in the following 6 years and eventually rehearsed on 2 May 1958, and put on stage on 12 November 1958. Rehearsing was done in the House of Culture, the Old Theatre and the new Migjeni Theatre in Shkodër. On November 27 the general rehearsal was given and in 1 December 1958 the opera premiered in the Migjeni Theatre, and after some performances in the city, in 27 and 28 December it showed in the theater of the Academy of Music and Arts of Albania, where Enver Hoxha, then Albania's premier, assisted it. At the end of the show Kadri Hazbiu, then Minister of Interior, thanked all the artists and raised a toast to Jakova. The event was considered important and Jakova received telegrams of congratulations from many of his peer composers all around the world for the success of his first opera.

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