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President:
Jakub Hrůša
 
Patron:
Graham Melville-Mason
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Journal “Czech Music” Volume 10 (Abstract)

Contents of this page

Smetana’s Achievement: A Centenary Survey
John Clapham
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 10 No. 2 (1984), pp. 11-17]

      Though in the 18th Century Bohemia had been widely recognised as a remarkable musical area, post Beethoven, there were few composers in the region who broke free from traditional forms in the early/mid-19th Century. Smetana was aware that in the early romantic period there were few compositions that could be identified as clearly Czech. During the 1850s, inspired by Liszt, Smetana began composing major works setting new standards in Czech orchestral music. Má Vlast became one of the epic works in the symphonic repertory, while his operas, whether on a heroic or more domestic scale, were distinctively Czech in inspiration, and glorifying the nation’s history and culture. but of a quality that ensured their dissemination though the musical nations of Europe and beyond. Smetana also benefited the reputation of Czech music in easing the path for his younger compatriot, Dvořák, and setting an example to him in achieving higher standards. Thanks to Smetana, there was a revolution in Czech music, which enabled it to win a place of honour alongside that of other European musical nations.

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Otakar Ostrčil: Part One
R.S.Hopkins
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 9, No. 3 (1983), pp. 6-14]

      Ostrčil is notable as the most oimportant pupil of Fibich and, after Janáček, the first major composer of Moravian stock. Though more highly regarded as a conductor than as a composer, and though he found it difficult to achieve an individual style, the mixing of classical musical influences from Beethove to Borodin with Czech traditions gave his work a ‘healthy eclecticism’. Orchestral, choral, vocal and operatic works drew on Czech sources. The Fibich inspiration persisted for a time, though later his work was to an extent to show, in his orchestration, the influence of Mahler or, perhaps even more, Reger. There was also some impact from the work of Suk and Novák.

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Otakar Ostrčil: Part Two
R.S.Hopkins
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 10 No. 4 (1984), pp. 10-14]

     The 1920s and 1930s witnessed the final phase of Ostrčil’s composing career, his later works displaying greater variety of expression through also some refinement and simplification. One problem, not shared with Suk and Novák, was a lack of real consistency in his musical personality, with variations in quality and originality through his output. He was also not a prolific composer, especially in his later years. One reason for this was the distraction of his outstanding conducting career. He was responsible for reintroducing masterpieces of Czech opera at the National Theatre, which included all Smetana operas as well as many of those by Dvořák, Fibich and Foerster and also the premieres in Prague of Janáček operas.
Posterity has shown his operas to have had little impact, though a number of his choral and orchestral works were recorded on LP, mostly by Supraphon. His fine recording of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride remains in the catalogue.

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