Leon Koudelak in Nagoya 2007
17 July 1961 |
|Occupations||Guitarist, teacher, music festival Impresario|
|Years active||1977 - present|
|Labels||Tyrolis Music (A)
Tyrolis Classic (FL)
|Associated acts||Liechtensteiner Gitarrenzirkel, Liechtensteiner Gitarrentage (LiGiTa), Thailand Guitar Society, Asia International Guitar Festival & Competition (AIGF), Pattaya Classical Guitar Festival & Competition, Indonesia Guitar Society, Indonesia International Guitar Festival & Competition,Tirana International Guitar Festival & Competition|
|Website||Thailand Guitar Society|
|Karl Heinz Roemmich, Jose L. Romanillos, Masaru Kohno, Eduard. B. Jones David Rubio, Hanief Palopo.|
Leon Koudelak classical guitarist.
Leon Koudelak has toured internationally in most parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas. He inspired famous composers such as James Thomas Pegram, Apostolos Paraskevas or Michael Buchrainer to write guitar music. In addition to his notable concert career, he founded the Liechtenstein Guitar Festival (Ligita), the Asia International Guitar Festival (AIGF) in Bangkok and the Pattaya International Guitar Festival. Among many in the international music scene he is known as "La mano santa de la guitarra"  ('the holy hand of the guitar'). 1996 he released a CD with the major Guitar Solo Works by Joaquin Rodrigo which brought him worldwide recognition. Maestro Rodrigo wrote him a letter expressing great enthusiasm after listening to his CD about his interpretation. On the following concert tour, Koudelak played a complete program with works by Joaquin Rodrigo. Leon Koudelak entered in 2011, the ranker list of "the most famous classical guitarists of all time".
Early life and career
When Leon was six years old, his family moved to Algeria from the former Czechoslovakia. His father, Bohumil Koudelák, who was a medical doctor and a popular Czech musician and composer with music editions and productions for the record label Supraphon, got a three years work contract at the general hospital in Skikda. Leon was brought up on American jazz as his father appreciated the likes of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. His father also exposed Leon to a lot of classical music, especially those of Slavic extraction such as Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů.
When his father's work contract expired in Algeria in 1970, he opted to return to Switzerland rather than eastern Europe due to the Prague Spring and the ensuing 1968 invasion. During his time in Switzerland as a nascent classical guitarist, Koudelak heard Andrés Segovia for the first time. This would galvanize, at quite an early age, his desire to be a musician.
In his later teenage years, he studied with the most famous guitarists and teachers such Karl Scheit (Leon Koudelak was one of his last students) at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, at the Zurich University of Music and Arts with Konrad Ragossnig and was one of the few students of Julian Bream in Liechtenstein. He obtained the Bachelor's degree, the Master of Art Education degree, the Masters of Arts degree and the Magister (degree) in Vienna and Zurich . During his time in Vienna he studied as well Contemporary Music with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati. Shortly after he became a prize winner of the prestigious guitar competition “Fundation Jacinto e Inocencio Guerrero” in Madrid, he was contacted by a Swiss concert agency with which he signed a long-year contract as well an exclusive contract with Tyrolis Music. 1989 He has recorded his first album with Tyrolis Music called : "Guitar Music from Spain, Mexico and Brazil" and 1993 the following CD “Modern Trend of Factories for Guitar". At this time he performed on music festivals and concerts in Europe, in countries like such Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, France, Greece or Liechtenstein. He did the premieres in Vienna of works by composers such as Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Michael Buchrainer.
In 1996 the albums “Joaquin Rodrigo - Guitar Music" and 1997 “Pavana Triste" were released by Tyrolis Music and led him to major music festivals and concert halls around the world. The album “Joaquin Rodrigo – guitar music" becomes one of the best selling CD in classical guitar music, highly praised by critics around the world. 1998 he did an interview with the guitar magazine "Gitarre & Laute". which earned criticism because of this statement about the classical guitar repertoire, which actually was misunderstood.
the 21st century
At the beginning of the 21st century, Koudelak flirted with Asia, as there was a greater potential on interest in classical guitar and guitar players than anywhere else. By chance, after a concert in Bangkok in 2001, he met Woratep Rattana-umpawan and suggested him to found a guitar festival as well offer his help to make the classical guitar popular in Asia. This has led to found the Asia International Guitar Festival in Bangkok, which becomes the biggest guitar festival in Asia and led to an unusually high increase in interest for the classical guitar in Thailand. Finally after being the artistic director of the LiGiTa (Liechtensteinische Gitarren Tage) over 10 years, Koudelak start to work at the same position in Bangkok for the Asia International Guitar Festival in 2001. The same year he recorded in a prominent music studio in Bangkok the CD " Exotic Fruits" which was released 2002 by Tyrolis Music and became the CD of the year by French Technical Periodical " Les Cahiers de la Guitar".
In 2002, back to Europe, he led the premiere of the guitar concert “Evasion 2002 – “Eschner - guitar concert” by Michael Buchrainer with the “Symphony Orchestra Liechtenstein” at the Music Festival of Liechtenstein (LiGiTa). In the years 2003, 2006 and 2007 he went back to Europe to perform concerts but definitely stayed based in Asia.
"apoyando" and "sin apoyar"
Emilio Pujol mentioned in his guitar school "Escuela Razonada de la Guitarra Vol I-IV" in four volumes, the "apoyando" and "sin apoyar". Where the name "tirando" instead of "sin apoyar" comes from is not comprehensible but used in many new guitar methods. The "apoyando" comes from the flamenco tradition of playing guitar. With the "apoyando" it is possible to create a louder sound and clear tone. This is what Francisco Tárrega and Emilio Pujol introduce in the guitar technique. Andrés Segovia was a great representative of this technique. Followed by Ida Presti, Alexander Lagoya, John Williams, Julian Bream, Pepe Romero, Karl Scheit, Konrad Ragossnig, Eliot Fisk, Flavio Cucchi, Marco Tamayo, Aniello Desiderio or Jorge Luis Zamora. Leon Koudelak lived in the years 1983 to 1986 in Spain, learning with flamenco guitarists the flamenco technique. In that time he became a close friend of the master of Flamenco "Merenge de Cordoba". Later he changed from the Apoyando technique to a mixture between "apoyando" and "sin apoyar". The Barock, Classic and Romantic repertoires are played with "sin apoyar", but in the music by Joaquin Turina, Joaquin Rodrigo, Manuel de Falla or other Spanish composers it is not possible to interpret the music correctly without the flamenco technique. In particular the Concierto de Aranjuez where the scales need to be played loud. Today the "apoyando" almost disappeared as the performers use microphones and amplifier. The real spirit of the Spanish guitar sadly disappeared as well and is only represented today by a few artists. But it continue to stay alive in the flamenco music and more and more classical guitarist discover this technique again.
Car accident and respite from excessively touring
Since end of 2005, Koudelak resides in Thailand, on an extended respite from excessively touring.
In June 2005, on the way from Switzerland to a concert in Barcelona, Spain with his sport car, Alfa Romeo, Leon Koudelak was involved in a car accident with a triple disc herniation. He was immediately flown by helicopter to the Kantonsspital St. Gallen to do a surgical procedure, a spinal cord injury. The End of career more than likely true, he recover miraculously within 6 months and performs concerts. He founded 2008, together with Woratep Rattana-umpawan, the Thailand Guitar Society and teaches in Bangkok at Mahidol University (College of Music, Mahidol University) and Silpakorn University and leads his own guitar class at the Thailand Guitar Society, which is attended by students from all parts of the world, mostly from Asia (India, Arabia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, China and Vietnam). In addition to being invited to play at music festivals and other music events in Asia, often with Woratep Rattana-umpawan as guitar duo, he also organizes music festivals in Thailand and acts as artistic director at the Thailand Guitar Society.
In an interview in June 2012 for the Japanese guitar magazin "Homa Dream", Leon Koudelak said, that a comeback is not needed because he never left the world stages, he just moved his activities to Asia. But also confirmed his ambitions to go on concert tour worldwide again.
August 2012, Leon Koudelak agrees to cooperate with the Indonesia Guitar Society  and was appointed as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Indonesia International Guitar Festival & Competition. Furthermore he was included in February 2013, as a member of the Honour Committee for the Tirana International Guitar Festival & Competition (Albania).
Earlier than expected, some organizers confirms Leon Koudelak's concerts in Europe 2013. His Europe concert tour has started successfully in Brussels at the Brussels International Guitar Festival on 26 April 2013 and ended at the Tirana International Guitar Festival on 25 May 2013. The full concert in Tirana was broadcast by the Albanian TV and concert excerpts are now available at Leon Koudelak's YouTube channel.
Honours and awards
Leon Koudelak obtained with unanimous award the Master of Education, the Masters of Arts degree at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, and the Magister (degree) in Vienna and at the Zurich University of Music and Arts.
He is a prize winner of the prestigious guitar competition “Fundation Jacinto e Inocencio Guerrero” in Madrid and received for his artistic performances the Appreciation Award from the Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (Austria), (Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research).
August 2012, Leon Koudelak was appointed as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Indonesia International Guitar Festival & Competition. and became 2013 member of the Honour Committee for the Tirana International Guitar Festival Competition.
- 1989 Guitar Music from Spain, Mexico and Brazil
- 1993 Modern Trend of Factories for Guitar
- 1996 Joaquin Rodrigo - Guitar Music
- 1997 Pavana Triste
- 2002 Exotic Fruits
- 2005 Leon Koudelak "best of"
- 2011 Live in Seoul (album)
- 2011 Pavana Triste (Album new edition)
He recorded works by Dionisio Aguado, Anton Diabelli, Lennox Berkeley, Michael Buchrainer, Antonio José, Maurice Ravel, Joaquin Rodrigo, Joaquin Turina, Carlo Domeniconi, Manuel Maria Ponce, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Roland Dyens, Francisco Tarrega, Jon Lord, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Leo Brouwer, Eduardo Martin and others.
- currently only available in Asia.
Teaching and practicing
Leon Koudelak recommends: "first learn the rules, then break them". Practice technique exercises for the dexterity, the music in your head and make music with your heart and soul. Don't forget about phrasing, dynamic, agogic, colors, expression, creativity, articulation, fantasy and imagination! Use tuning fork instead tuning machines. Read "Handbuch der Gitarre und Laute" by Konrad Ragossnig  or the translation from German to English from the "Chapter VI The Guitar for the lesson".
Leon Koudelak use on his recordings guitars by Karl Heinz Roemmich, Eduard. B. Jones (David Rubio), José Luis Romanillos ("La Primogenita, 1990") and Masaru Kohno ("Maestro, 1995"). In concerts also guitars by Yuichi Imai, and Yamaha.
2011 he met the Indonesian luthier Hanief Palopo, at the Pattaya Classical Guitar Festival & Competition 2011 and finally ordered a guitar by Hanief Palopo. Since 2012, Leon Koudelak use exclusively guitars by Hanief Palopo.
" Dear Hanief Palopo, I admire your patience and your passion to make guitars. I just repeat what I said yesterday, you make wonderfull guitars and you are a wonderful person. Thank you very much for all. We all are deeply touched about the freedom that you spread. Keep going on and all doors will open for you ".
Your friend Leon Koudelak.
- Michael Buchrainer - Werkliste
- Internationales Gitarrenfestival: ligita - 20. Liechtensteiner Gitarrentage vom 7. bis 14. Juli 2012
- XIV Festival Hispanoamericano de Guitarra - Artes e Historia México
- Joaquin Rodrigo: Leon Koudelak: Amazon.co.uk: Music
- Thailand Guitar Society: Leon Koudelak
- GL XX/1998/Nº 1
- Faculty Of Music, Silpakorn University
- Amazon.co.uk: koudelak
- Leon Koudelak | AllMusic
- Moderne Werke Fuer Gitarr: Leon Koudelak: Amazon.co.uk: Music
- Pavana Triste (new edition)
- レオン・クーデラック／ライブ・イン・ソウル2001／Leon Koudelak : Live in Seoul 2001／ギター、DVD
- Thailand Guitar Society: TGS CD/DVD Shop
- Handbuch der Gitarre und Laute - Konrad Ragossnig | Buch | buecher.de | portofrei | ISBN 3-7957-8725-4
- Thailand Guitar Society: Konrad Ragossnig "Handbuch der Gitarre". English
- YouTube - Siam Bay Shore Resort and Spa donates to Father Ray Foundation.wmv
- Pattaya Classical Guitar Festival & Competition 2011
- YouTube - Donation from the Pattaya Classical Guitar Festival & Competition 2011
- YouTube - Guitar Festival Fundraiser for Father Ray Foundation
- YouTube - Guitar Festival Fundraiser for Father Ray Foundation
- Leon Koudelak's webpage
- Asia International Guitar Festival
- Pattaya International Guitar Festival
- Youtube videos of Koudelak's performances
- Koudelak's Facebook page