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Symphonic Prog • Slovakia

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Collegium Musicum biography
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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Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.35 | 17 ratings
Prúdy: Zvoňte, Zvonky
4.06 | 44 ratings
Collegium Musicum
4.08 | 79 ratings
3.33 | 27 ratings
2.76 | 21 ratings
On A Ona
3.49 | 28 ratings

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

3.63 | 39 ratings
Collegium Musicum Live
4.43 | 40 ratings
Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum
2.60 | 5 ratings
Cestou k ... Stabil - Instabil
3.77 | 13 ratings
Collegium Musicum '97
3.85 | 18 ratings
Speak, Memory (CD+DVD)

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)

4.13 | 11 ratings
Hommage ŕ J. S. Bach / Ulica plná plásťov do dazďa


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Konvergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.08 | 79 ratings

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
3.63 | 39 ratings

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.

 Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 1975
4.43 | 40 ratings

Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Pirouetting scalpel

I did a symphonics poll a little while back dealing with a few obscure records, that I myself had grown increasingly fond of, and in the midst of things our dear admin Alex was kind enough to let me know about this band - actually posting a track off of this live album. Straight away I knew this was a record I'd love, and now I'm truly grateful for his recommendation, as it quite elegantly has smacked me upside the head and made me plunge straight back into the world of symphonic high towering music. Good thing too, as I was getting just a wee bit mad from all the avant-guarde stuff roaming the airwaves. Fish? No thanks, I'd rather 42 and shave my Johnny-boy...

As many here have mentioned, this band work within the Emerson started tradition with keyboards a- blazing and maniacal drums tip toeing at their side like a strange butcher-ballerina in big boots. Personally I find Collegium Musicum to have much more in common with Triumvirat, mostly basing this quaint observation with the amount of uninterrupted melodies on offer here. ELP were masters at changing pace and course in the middle of the track - running quickly in the other direction, whereas Triumvirat stayed within the melodic core of the tune. Maybe I've traded in my brain for a box of cowboys, but that's essentially what I get. Collegium Musicum build on the Triumvirat heritage, although the individual phrasings of the players here sound altogether differently - and does quite clearly emanate a certain uniqueness and flair.

The name itself sounds like music college to me, and whether that's true, I leave entirely up to the sonic history buffs out there with an affinity for the Slovakian lingo, but to this Dane, that rather dubious translation fits the band like a latex glove-sandal. It could very easily be a couple of music students, who in their spare time away from all the books, played homage to that ever so sprawling and colourful world of progressive rock happening all over the world. Either way, these are some damn talented musicians!

What firstly separates this album from either of the aforementioned acts, is the usage of guitar. Though quite bluesy at times, it flows very elegantly along to the music at hand - adding depth and that fluid texture you sometimes get from a buttery stratocaster melting the individual notes like a sizzling hot pan. Rather peculiarly, the guitar also highlights the instruments around it, and the ferociousness of the classical rock styled piano suddenly becomes slightly more palatable and creamy, - while the drums just get empowered and sound all the more rampaging like an orchestrated Pamplonian bull-run.

As I mentioned earlier, there is not that much musically tying this band together with ELP, but in their approach - and the way they grab on to classical inspirations does echo Emerson and co. The track called Mikrokozmos for instance is originally a piece done by Bartók. On here the band infuse the music with different twists and turns - adding several original b-roads together with a rather successful rock umphh. The track Preludium in C Dur (a cast z baletu Romeo a Julia) is an adaptation of Russian composer Prokofiev albeit with a hefty dosage of salt and pepper, and some of that zest I mentioned before. Now does that remind you of any other band in particular?

This is symphonic prog rock at its finest, and I recommend anybody out there to have a closer listen to this formidable act. Nowhere else can you find these compositions within the bands' discography, and I rather like the live power of the music. It feels hard hitting, yet it can also be incredibly precise and gentle like a pirouetting scalpel. Had it not been for the far too meandering drum-solo features cluttering up the first side here, this album might have received the full 5 stars.

 Divergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.49 | 28 ratings

Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars I am not so sure what the word Divergencie means in English, although I am sure I could find out by using one of these online translation tools. But the music on this album very much points in the direction of an English translation like "Various stuff". No, I have not cheated by using an online translation tool.

This eighty minutes long album is really four parts collected onto one single album. Or a double, even a triple LP back in 1981. Marian Varga is a classical musician - and composer - who also dabbled into ELP like symphonic prog and fusion. On Divergencie, most of the musician is orchestral classic music (with full 100 men orchestra) though with some jazz and pop/rock inbetween. To Marian Varga's credit, most of the classical music is proper dense, not easy accessible classical music. This is how classical music should be. The pop and jazz stuff is a bit of a downer compared to the classical music stuff.

Despite of this being a very varied album, the concept actually work to a large degree. The quality of the music is not that great though. The classical music too orchestral and we hear not enough of Marian Varga himself; one of the greatest musicians of our time. But that's said, this is a very good album which can be compared to ELP's Works 1 & 2, but which is far superior to those two albums.

3.5 stars

 Speak, Memory (CD+DVD) by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 2010
3.85 | 18 ratings

Speak, Memory (CD+DVD)
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Collegium Musicum was one of the better Eastern European bands around. At the time when ELP albums was as rare behind the iron curtain as water in the Sahara desert, Collegium Musicium delivered the goods. And that in a manner which almost shamed Keith Emerson & Co.

Yes, this live CD/DVD is in the same vein as the excesses from Keith Emerson & Co. Where ELP was a shadow of themselves at High Voltage, Collegium Musicum delivered a cracking gig at this gig in Bratislava in 2009.

The added value here from the usual keyboard driven mix of classical music (Johan Sebastian Bach) and rock is the addition of some great electric guitar solos and some jazz elements.

Quality wise, Collegium Musicum does not have the great songs ELP had and that is a problem with them and their albums. So also with this live effort. There are some great stuff here, but most of the live effort is based on the technicalities of Marian Varga's excellent finger works and not so much on creating good melodies. This is another classic case of great musicians forgetting what music is all about.

Hence, this is not a great CD and neither a great DVD. I admire Marion Varga, but this offering is lacking any really great tune and is therefore falling by the wayside. A three star is sufficient for this live album. Check out their other live albums instead.

'.5 stars

 Hommage ŕ J. S. Bach / Ulica plná plásťov do dazďa by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
4.13 | 11 ratings

Hommage ŕ J. S. Bach / Ulica plná plásťov do dazďa
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars What a pleasant single (exactly 14 minutes) these two songs. I dare to say that Hommage ŕ J. S. Bach is perhaps my most favourite song by them. It also appeared on CD release of "Konvergience", which is from where I know it. People would probably say that it sounds like Emerson, Lake (and third one, you know who) and I won't argue. They may (or may not, availability of foreign material in Czechoslovakia back them was very bad) be aware of most of their material (it's hard to determine, while in "free" western world it is easy, there don't exist presumption of innocence in music - you sound like Genesis nowadays, you must have listened them - funny, because we lacked presumption of innocence in law system, which is quite ironic). It's simply classical piece done in the very traditional Symphonic Rock. Bass sounds great here, but of course (it's hard to ignore them and try to concentrate on other instruments), the main thing are keyboards - some kind of organ perhaps, it would be stylish). Melodic, catchy, systematic (carefully "composed", or at least translated into Prog) simply perfect.

Ulica plná plásťov do dazďa is classical music interpretation (Symphonic) as well, but completely different. Instead of fast paced, melodic pompous piece we get slow crawler, quite moody and more demanding song. But it's actually equally interesting (or perhaps equality fails here?), only in different way. To be honest, I like them both.

4(-), of course, nowadays, a purpose of singles is almost zero-like (get remastered, 136 minutes long album Konvergience instead), but the quality of these two songs is great, so the result is four minus. Quality is five though.

 Speak, Memory (CD+DVD) by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 2010
3.85 | 18 ratings

Speak, Memory (CD+DVD)
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars After decades of inactivity, most popular Slovak progressive band Collegium Musicum released their come-back live album (as CD+DVD)! For sure, at the very first possibility I took it to listen.

Everyone familiar with Eastern European prog noticed, that another great Slovak band, Fermata, released very similar album in year 2007. Live come-back release in CD+DVD form, old compositions, recorded live during come-back concert in Bratislava. Really very good album, just comparing with their early fusion albums, there is not too much jazz-fusion (or to be honest - no fusion at all). But - really great instrumental rock album, with heavy guitar and symphonic arrangements.

I returned back to Fermata's live release because of serious reason: Collegium Musicum and Fermata both were two leading Slovak prog bands for years. Even more, some musicians participated in both bands as well.

And - we have the same situation with this ,new CM release: two current line-up musicians (-Fedor Freso / bass guitar and Frantisek Griglak / guitar) just few years ago participated in Fermata's similar live come-back release.In other words, current CM is just Fermata with different keyboardist and drummer.

Is there a difference in music of both releases, or it's just more marketing trick? Happily, difference exists. And, for my ears, it is good difference. If returning back in early 70-s I really liked Fermata's music more than CM, mostly because of its jazzy elements, current situation is opposite.

Fermata's live release of 2007 contains instrumental rock with heavy guitar strongly in front of all sound, with very competent supporting band, strong melodies and rich arrangements, but almost with no fusion traces at all. CM new release has same guitarist, but he plays much more complex music there, with moments of improvisation. Combined with really great keyboard sound, plenty of complex and interesting arrangements and in whole quite fresh and energetic symphonic prog sound, I really prefer this album and this band today!

Everyone interested in best Eastern European symphonic prog must to listen this album (DVD contains same track + one song more).

My rating - 4+!

 Konvergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.08 | 79 ratings

Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars EDIT: Expect some historical talks in first paragraphs + Czech point of view. I'm trying to be fair, oh kay ?

Slovakian culture was always compared to Czech one. Maybe that's simply bad approach. Unfair I would say. As Slovaks lacks quantity (they're about 2x smaller nation then we are, so it's nothing strange), they somehow compensate it with quality. Yes, we have Blue Effect, Progres 2, Synkopy and Pražský výběr, but they have Collegium Musicum & Fermata. And even I'm going to rate it with 5-star rating, as I did with some from my country, I have to say that there's a difference. Important fact is that in these times (communism, 70's), our countries were the same, together in one (about 14 million of people I suppose). Historically, our countries were always close and our languages are less similar than Austria/Germany language, but more than Spanish/Portugese. But still, even we were Czechoslovakia then (and for many people we still are, even 17 years after split, sad thing these geographic facts, huh?) and we cooperated a little bit, there were differences.

Of course, cultural, political, geographical, society, these not so nice to stuck yourself into, but hell, they're sometimes important to think about and consider.

But what's good about this situation for me is that I can understand it very, very well. I know historical context, I know about situation that was back then here, I can understand it very well. And I have to say that it's quite helping for understanding it all. Feeling this. EVEN IT'S not the same thing as living in this situation, making music, trying to

Very long album with cover that simply attracts you. Guess what, censors back then probably wasn't happy about this cigarette he's smoking, so on LP cover, this wasn't cover that appeared. Anyway, it was all different, for example on original double LP, just first four songs from "CD 2" appeared. Other are I suppose from somewhere else. Nevermind, when listening this rock attempt on classical music, I have to say that they're better than Beggar's Opera in this. No pathetic parody, pure homage. And not just Homage (talking 'bout first song), but also other like Concerto in D, furious swifting storm, pure prog rock beauty. Other two from first CD are, well, quite good, even they're in shade of these two.

And second side is pure beauty. Its value is unmeasureable and (when talking about it) also unspeakable. If you're lucky / interested / explorer enough, try to find it somewhere and try it for yourself. Let these great atmospheric, little bit psychedelic (crossed with keyboards in a way that you haven't heard before, not even in ELP music). Because this is not stupid Emmerson clone, it's intelligent music full of its own life. And because they almost don't sing, it's international record, everyone can enjoy it in almost the same way. Anyway, Slovak language is pleasant to listen, very soft one (almost too much, something in between Russian and Czech). Oh and Pf 1972 (Pf = Pour féliciter from French, we use it as new year's best wishes)

5(-), and I feel quite confident about it. What do you think ? After all, it's the best that Slovakian music can offer.

Double disk provides lesser proportion of melodies, more improvisations and tries to find their way.

 Collegium Musicum Live  by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Live, 1973
3.63 | 39 ratings

Collegium Musicum Live
Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by Joăo Paulo

5 stars Another great album for this Chec Republic band. I thik that is the first live album made by then, in a country of Iron Courtain when is prohibited Rock and Roll in comunist ideology. In begining of 70 years, made a live album in this context is an adventure that in some cases they pay with prison. Great keyboards performance. Not the sound because the low quality of music material and the dificult to find good music instruments, it was obliging that the musicians made a great performances. Great bass, great drum's and great not comercial music. To me, this band is one of my favourites that i ever heard and with a strong classical inspiration. I hope that I can see a live performance of this band because they made a great concert's today but this cd's are hard to find in music stores. A masterpiece of East progressive music and all progressive world in a special context. Five star's for a great work
 Konvergencie by COLLEGIUM MUSICUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.08 | 79 ratings

Collegium Musicum Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars The art of ELPism.

There is in my view few better, if any, in the art of ELPism than Marian Varga and Collegium Musicum. Hidden behind the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, he and his band released a lot of albums which must have satisfied those who longed for a visit from Keith Emerson and ELP. But Marian Varga and Collegium Musicum is not copycats. Far from it.

This album does undeniable have much of what a good ELP album had. The ELP album that springs to mind is their iconic Welcome To The Show. Partly because parts of Konvergencie is a live album. The long solo runs and the weirdo creations Keith Emerson created, is in abundance on Konvergencie.

The difference between this album and an ELP album is that Collegium Musicum takes the ELP sound a lot further out towards both classical music and avant-garde prog. Soft Machine without the saxophone and brass springs to mind. The other difference is that Collegium Musicum use plenty of guitars. Mostly solo guitars. Some has asked what would had happened if Jimi Hendrix had joined ELP. I think some of the answers is on this album. There are even some Jimi Hendrix sounds and guitar solos on this album.

The end result is an album a fan of Keith Emerson, The Nice and ELP simply need to have in it's record collection. As simple as that. The quality of the music is very high. But I expect nothing less from this band which I rate very highly. This is an album I will listen to again and again. It is simply an excellent album.

4 stars

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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