Founded 1974
 
President:
Jiří Bělohlávek
 
Patron:
Graham Melville-Mason
Vice-Presidents:
Antonín Dvořák III
Radomil Eliška
Markéta Hallová
Miloš Jurkovič
Radoslav Kvapil
Alena Němcová
Zuzana Růžičková

Journal “Czech Music” Volume 14 (Abstract)

Viktor Ullmann’s Last Opera
by Graham Melville-Mason
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 1 (1988), pp. 9 – 12]

     Ullmann’s last opera The Emperor of Atlantis, was written in 1943 while the composer was incarcerated in Terezín. The main influences on his music were Schönberg and Hába. These were absorbed into his own compositional style, which was not distinctively Czech but rather lay with the Germanic side of Bohemia. In The Emperor of Atlantis there are also hints of the influence of Mahler, Zemlinsky, Stravinsky, and Weill. Yet the final result is not merely derivative. In daring to write the opera, Ullmann challenged Nazi philosophy head on, its anti-war theme and inclusion in the music of a parody of the German National Anthem antagonised the Nazi authorities, who cancelled the first performance. Ullmann was then transported to his death in Auschwitz.

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Reicha’s Wind Quintets
by Patrick Lambert
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 1 (1988), pp. 13 – 17]

Though born in Prague, Anton Reicha spent much of his life in Germany, Austria and particularly in France. In his youth he was in regular contact with Beethoven, and also received advice on composition from Haydn. The Napoleonic Wars drove him to Hamburg where his ideas on composition matured. His main works in this period were operas to which, however, that city proved unreceptive. Reicha finally moved to Paris in 1808. Having evolved a theory of composition, he attracted distinguished pupils, among them Adam, Berlioz, Flotow, Franck, Gounod, Liszt, Onslow and Thomas. He became a Professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1818. Above all his fame in Paris rested on his 24 wind quintets, performed by Professors of the Conservatoire, establishing this combination of instruments as a viable form of chamber music.

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Czech Melodrama
by R.S. Hopkins
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 1 (1988), pp. 18 – 21]

In its true sense melodrama means placing spoken word against a musical background. One pioneer of the genre was the Bohemian composer Jiři Benda whose melodramas so impressed Mozart. Apart from in Bohemia, the form almost died out until the late nineteenth century. It was revived by Fibich, most notably in the Hippodamia trilogy, in which he established a cohesive structure by using Wagnerian leitmotifs. The only other prolific composer of melodramas at the time was Foerster. There was a revival of the melodrama in more experimental modes, mostly with chamber groups in mind, in the 1960s. Interest was increased also by a series of LP recordings of melodramas by Supraphon, covering the period from Fibich to the 1980s.

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Eugen Suchoň at Eighty
by Graham Melville-Mason
Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 2 (1988), pp. 12 – 14

Suchoň was one of the trio now regarded as the most distinguished Slovak composers of their generation, the others being Moyzes and Cikker. After early training in Bratislava, he became a pupil of Vitěslav Novák. Suchoň composed successfully in a variety of forms. Like other Slovak composers, he turned to folk music for inspiration. He was created National Artist by the State in 1958 and appointed Professor of Music Theory at Bratislava University in 1959. During the 1960s his work became more experimental, influenced by ideas from abroad. In this later period he increasingly made use of his own theories relating to the use of twelve tones. He continued to write prolifically in the 1970s and into the 1980s.

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Janáček’s Women: Vision and Reality
by Patrick Lambert
Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 2 (1988), pp. 15 – 17

Janáček adored women, though his relations with them were frequently based on idealism rather than reality, resulting in unhappy relationships, as in his marriage. His preoccupation with women was constantly reflected in his music, his works frequently based those he knew who functioned as ‘models’. In his early sixties he was captivated by Kamila Stösslová, in her mid-twenties, who provided the inspiration for The Diary of One who Disappeared, and for Kat’a Kabanová. He confessed that the 2nd String Quartet Intimate Letters had sprung from ‘directly-experienced emotion’. In the Glagolitic Mass he visualised their wedding taking place in a cathedral of his imagination.

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How Rusalka became Czech
by John Tyrrell
Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 2 (1988), pp. 18 – 21

The librettist of Rusalka, Kvapil, acknowledged his non-Czech sources, the myth of the water nymph being widespread in European literature, rather than distinctively Czech. Three characters in the opera, however, stand out as different from water nymphs appearing in analogous European works, namely Ježibaba, the Vodník and Rusalka herself. The grim violence of Ježibaba can be linked with the folk tales of Erben, which include malevolent witches and water gnomes. The pessimistic, Cassandra-like Vodník, and the serious, suffering Rusalka, sacrificing her voice to acquire a human soul, also respond to tragic elements in the Czech spirit.

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Antonín Tučapský at Sixty
by Graham Melville-Mason
Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 14 No. 2 (1988), pp. 22 – 28

A Moravian, born in 1928, Antonín Tučapský studied in Brno before embarking on his career as composer, teacher and conductor. From 1964 – 72 he was conductor of the famous Moravian Teachers’ Male Voice Choir. He came to Great Britain in 1975, and was appointed Professor of Composition at Trinity College of Music. Here he had more time to develop his creative side, many of his compositions, mostly choral or chorally based, having first performances in this country. Overall Tučapský’s works evade any pigeon-holing of his style. Conversant with the various compositional theories and trends of the twentieth century, he remains essentially a tonal composer, as well as being a first-class all-round musician.

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