All his life, Petr Kotik (°1942 in Prague) has been an independent composer and musician, performing his own compositions as well as music by other composers with whom he shares artistic vision. His abilities and skills as a performer have enabled him to realize projects and events often thought unrealistic. His past and present association with musicians of high caliber is one of the reasons for the endurance and often success of his projects.

Petr Kotik is a self-taught composer, although he did study composition – first privately in Prague with Jan Rychlík (1960-63), and later at the Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna with Karl Schieske and Hanns Jelinek (1963-66). Ideas and concepts of John Cage and later R. Buckminster Fuller influenced Kotik from early stages. However, those (and other) influences never led to replications. Kotik regards composing “in the style of ” as imitation, which has nothing to do with a real influence.

In 1961, while still a student at the Prague Conservatory, he founded the ensemble for new music, Musica viva pragensis, which he directed until 1964. After returning to Prague from Vienna in 1966, Kotik founded and directed the QUaX Ensemble, performing music by composers such as Cornelius Cardew, Frederic Rzewski, La Monte Young, Cage, Feldman, Wolff, Ben Patterson, and his own compositions, among others. Arriving in the U.S. in late 1969, it took Kotik just a few weeks to start, together with Julius Eastman, the S.E.M. Ensemble. Both, Kotik and Eastman were members of the Creative Associates group at the State University at Buffalo, N.Y. Other founding and early members of SEM were Roberto Lanieri, Jan Williams, and Garret List.

One of the key musical and personal events for Kotik, right after his arrival in America, was meeting Julius Eastman. They both shared an artistic vision, independent of the prevailing new music of that time. The close five-year Kotik–Eastman collaboration led to the creation of major compositions and performances in the U.S. and Europe.

After relocating from Buffalo to New York City in 1983, SEM expanded in 1992 into The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble with a “Tribute to John Cage” at Carnegie Hall, performing the first complete 86-piece orchestra composition Atlas Eclipticalis by John Cage, with David Tudor performing simultaneously Cage’s Winter Music.

Despite relocating to the USA in 1969, Petr Kotik kept close contact with the European and Czech music scenes. Starting in 1979, he performed often in the Czech Republic, especially after the fall of the communist regime in the 1990s. these engagements led Kotik to initiate, in 2001, the biennial “Festival and Institute Ostrava Days”. Collaborating with Petr Kotik on the first Ostrava Days in 2001 were Earle Brown, Alvin Lucier, and Christian Wolff. In 2012, the director of the National Moravian-Silesian Theater in Ostrava, Jiří Nekvasil, suggested to start the (also biennial) opera festival NODO (New Opera Days Ostrava) in 2012, of Kotik is co-artistic director.

Petr Kotik lives and works in New York, composing and directing the S.E.M. Ensemble, and frequently visiting Ostrava, Prague and other locations worldwide.