The beginnings of Jazz in Slovakia were a bit complicated because of communist regimes. There are several evidences that people have been locked into jail because of playing Jazz. For the Communists and Government it was something extra-new, American, too ‘Western’…

The birth of Jazz in Slovakia
The first traces of Jazz in Slovakia date back to the 30th century. Then jazz began to integrate into slovak popular music. Especially his swinging form. They were starting to release the first record of classical American jazz and add jazz to the night clubs and bars where the most foreign bands have played.


First SK leader
-> 1939 Orchestra Studio Jazz Ladislav Faix
-> 1940 Orchestra of the University of Students – Jan Ondrus
later influenced by the post-war situation
-> 1947 Orchestra of Bratislava – students
– Founder – Pavol Polansky
– Conductor – Gustav Brom

The first contact Slovak culture with jazz (even in the times of Czechoslovakia) was in the late 30s through contemporary popular music, to which they received a certain mediated sub-elements of jazz. This was mainly the dance music (slower fox, foxtrot and typical Slovak folk conditions) The gypsy bands started applying a variation technique and improvisation, while playing a variety of evergreens, dance and bar music. Musicians started to use elements of jazz composers of European music (A. Moyzes – vest pocket suite for violin and piano, 1927. Jazz Sonata for 2 pianos 1932 Fox- op 15 Vikend Ahoj, 1933. J. Macudzinski – the pianist elicits – jazz piano solo, 1934, etc.). Jazz in Slovakia always came indirectly through Czech Orchestra J. Jezek, K. Krautgartner and K. Vlach. Other sources included films and radio broadcasts. However, jazz and time recordings (evergreens) have also been spread by pianists and musicians through cinema music and movies. The first theater in Bratislava already stood in 1905 and more were built in all important Slovak cities. They played repertoire in the field of German and Austrian rock. In the 50 years, the pioneers of the Slovak Bop already knew about Ch. Hamilton, B. Kessel, G. Mulligan, O. Peterson, G. Shearing. The music and records were obtained through personal contacts abroad, or through radio broadcasts Voice of America (United States Jazz Program Editor Willis Conover), BBC London (The Jazz Hours), Radio Luxembourg.

The emergence of the first Big Bands was free (1939 Orchestra Studio Jazz Ladislav Faix 1940 Orchestra of the University of Students – Jan Ondrus) later influenced at most postwar situation (1947 Orchestra Bratislava University – founder Pavol Polansky 1947 conductor Gustav Brom), when it was necessary at first restore the economy of the country and then promote and develop culture. Jazz scene in the 50s formed Swing Orchestra Group of 50, Orchestra J. Sivacek, Orchestra P. Pohanka, Orchestra J. Laifera

Jazz music has found itself in a new situation in the 1950s in which the company is perceived as the jazz music of American imperialism, as part of the imported Western culture. It was considered harmful to “our people” because it was cosmopolitan and elitist art. For ideological reasons for the rejection of jazz has considered the American and imperialist nature of this music. For example, if we follow the jazz program on Slovak Radio in 1947, Radio Jazz’s total production was 7%. After the beginning of the communist regime in 1948, production dropped to less than 1% and amounted to 15 hours of transmission a year. In 1949 again the production of jazz under 1% and represented 16 hours jazz broadcast year. On the contrary, in comparison with 1948, the popular music broadcast increased by 6%

With Jazz in the 50s has not been treated ethically. Cultural policy in terms of impact on Slovak jazz was not controlled by ethical principles. Jazz still held the image of imported negative American culture. There were several performances organized against this in Café Reduta or in the Tatra Revue (a legendary cabaret, which was founded in 1930 in the Tatra Hotel in Bratislava).

Other planned performances were held in Bratislava Café Reduta (Mondays) from 1954 to 1956, where J. Hentera Quintet (with J. Jelsovsky) performed for several months in concerts of the Jan Sivacek Orchestra. To play and promote jazz during this time was somehow brave and quite hard, because it could also mean sanctions ( for example I. Mozsi – Student has been thrown out of the Conservatory in 1958 because he played jazz, the same fate has suffered the pianist Stanislav Sulkovsky 1959 – 1962, when he did not finish the Consertorium in Bratislava). Interestingly, what has been done for cultural and political reasons has long remained as a prejudice against jazz in public consciousness ( P. Bodnar – Student left the Conservatory in Zilina in 1979 because the piano professor accused him of syncopation while playing Mozart ). The stage of modern jazz in Slovakia was formed by Quintet K. Ondreicka (1956-57), Combo 4, Academia Club, Medic, East Coast Combo, West Coast Combo, Studio Bratislava, Bratislava Jazz Quartet.

Nowadays the Jazz Scene today in Slovakia is modern, more free than it used to be and is comparable with the Austrian or the World Scene. There are also many highly qualified and creative musicians which play n Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Abroad aswell.


Some well-known Slovak Jazz Musicians:

  • Frantisek Janoska – Pianist, Composer (Classical, Jazz), Arranger
  • Lubos Sramek – Pianist
  • Martin Valihora – Drummer
  • Stefan Pista Bartus – Double Bassist
  • Ondrej Krajnak – Pianist
  • Nikolaj Nikitin – Saxophonist
  • Michal Bugala – Guitarrist
  • Hana Gregusova – Singer
  • Klaudius Kovac – Pianist
  • Marian Sevcik – Drummer
  • Radovan Tariska – Saxophonist
  • Lukas Oravec – Trumpeter
  • Boris Cellar – Guitarrist
  • Peter Preloznik – Pianist
  • Sisa Michalidesova – Flutist, Composer
  • Matus Jakabcic – Guitarrist, Arranger, Composer
  • Juraj Griglak – Trumpeter
  • Juraj Bartos – Double Bassist
  •  Peter Lipa – Singer, Songwriter, entrepreneur, organizer of music events, manager of jazz events, a longtime dramaturg leading European festival Bratislava Jazz Day

Jazz events / Festivals in Slovakia
• Bratislava Jazz Days (Bratislava)
• Trnavsky Jazzyk (Trnava)
• Jazz for Sale (Kosice)
• Open Jazz Fest (Nove Mesto nad Vahom)
• Spring Jazz Days (Zilina)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s