Journal “Czech Music” Volume 20 (Abstract)
Contents of this page
Dvořák’s and Janáček’s Dumka
by Jarmil Burghauser
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 41-56]
The interest of Dvořák and Janáček in the dumka, originally an east European folk song genre, stemmed partly from the nineteenth-century growth of Panslavic resistance to Hapsburg rule. In art music, as distinct from folk music, it was the practice for a sung dumka to be followed by a dance. It was also used in purely instrumental music, as for example by Liszt and Wieniawski. The first dumka composed by Dvořák appeared in the late 1870s, and this type of material appears in many subsequent compositions. Much influenced by Janáček’s attraction to the dumka, and maintaining its essential character, Dvořák transformed its inspirations into highly personal formations.
Dvořák’s Idea for an American National Anthem
by Jarmil Burghauser
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 56-61]
Dvořák considered it regrettable that the North American song My Country ‘tis of Thee, a kind of second American National Anthem, should have been set to the tune of the English God Save the Queen. He sought to offer an alternative, but this never materialised. Much later, however, his one-time Secretary Kovařic added the words of My Country ‘tis of Thee to Dvořák’s sketched out proposal. If Dvořák’s tune is to be reconstructed to these words as a ‘new’ American National Anthem, however, then it is could not be musically correct for it to be shaped as Kovařic suggested. Burghauser offers a more viable version.
Retouches and Alterations in Smetana’s Má Vlast
by Jarmil Burghauser
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 62-71]
A performer’s interpretation of a musical work should be distinguished from ‘retouching’ or ‘revision’, which involve a changing of the standing instructions of the score. While retouching leaves the overall parameters intact, revision means alteration of the work’s structure and instrumentation. Older conductors, particularly from abroad, were suspicious of aspects of the orchestration in Má Vlast which did not reflect current standard practice. Suspicions were strengthened by errors in the notation of the original published edition. A number of conductors retouched or even revised the work. Supraphon appointed a commission to fashion a new performing edition which avoided ‘wild retouchings’ but attended to the indisputable problems of some of the work’s passages as written by Smetana.
Bohuslav Martinů and Vítězslava Kaprálová
by Michael Henderson
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 71-84]
Meeting in 1937, the promising young composer Kaprálová became a pupil of Martinů. An intimate relationship developed as they worked together in Paris. In June 1938 the two attended an ISCM festival in London where Kaprálová conducted her Military Sinfonietta. Some of their finest works were composed as political storm clouds gathered over Czechoslovakia. Early in 1939, Kaprálová decided she could not continue the affair with Martinů, though the two remained close friends. Soon diagnosed as having tuberculosis, she died in Montpellier in June 1940, aged 25. Concurrently, Martinů and his wife were fleeing occupied France for the United States. While his time in America gave his emotional wounds chance to heal, Martinů’s memories of his relationship with Kaprálová were to haunt him for the rest of his life.
Young Martinů and Fascination with Death
by Jaroslav Mihule
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 85-95]
The ‘mysterious motif of death’ was a consistent thread in Martinů’s compositions and was closely related to shifts in his musical style. His preoccupation with the subject often related to life crises. The death motif had offered a similar inspiration for composers such as Mahler, Dvořák, Smetana, Novák and Suk, all of whom influenced the composer. The associated theme of martyrdom also is strong in Czech culture and it can be argued that Martinů’s life and death in exile contained such an element, representing an important and continuing facet of his art.
Martinů in Cleveland
by Greg Terian
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 95-99]
During his sojourn in the United States, Martinů’s connections with Cleveland were strong. His 2nd Symphony was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra under Leinsdorf in October 1943. Heralded as a tribute to the large Czech community in the city, it was enthusiastically received. In 1946 Szell became director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Prior to the German occupation, as director of the German Opera in Prague, he had performed Martinů works in his orchestral concerts there. He conducted the premiere of the Rhapsody-Concerto in 1953, and in 1957 gave the first American performance of the Fresques de Piero della Francesca. Less successful than these was a subsequently neglected work commissioned for the fortieth anniversary of the Cleveland Orchestra, the symphonic prelude The Rock.
Josef Antonín Štěpán (1726-1797): A Bicentenary Tribute
by Howard Picton
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 100-110]
Acknowledged as founder of the Viennese Lied, Bohemian-born Štěpán was also a master of the keyboard, showing a distinctive personal style in his piano music of the second half of the eighteenth century. By the 1760s his compositions were becoming known in Leipzig and Paris as well as Vienna. Štěpán’s German language songs, printed in the late 1770s and early 1780s, were epoch-making, in effect the precursors of Schubert. Štěpán also made changes to concerto design, foreshadowing the tendency of later composers to exalt the soloist. He can be regarded as the most advanced composer of keyboard concertos of his time, apart from Mozart.
Jiří Antonín Benda’s Singspiels: A Comparison with the Dramatic Works of Mozart
by Zdeňka Pilková
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 110-135]
While Benda’s melodramas were well known to Mozart it is not certain whether this was the case with his Singspiels. Benda in turn had not known those of Mozart when writing his own versions. It may be, however, that he had heard, for example, Die Entführung aus dem Serail before composing his later Singspiels. Benda’s works were different from Mozart’s in reflecting north German rather than Viennese and Italian influences. Benda broke beyond the confines of the fashionable Singspiels of his day with a range of innovative musical features and effective characterisation, justifying a pre-eminent position in the production of musical stage works pre-Mozart.
The Melodramas: Radúz a Mahulena and Pod Jabloní by Josef Suk and Julius Zeyer
by Milada Ladmanová
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 136-141]
Suk’s melodramas Radúz a Mahulena and Pod Jabloní, both based on dramatic legends by Zeyer, are at once similar to and different from those of Fibich. Both Suk’s and Fibich’s works were romantic stage melodramas. But Fibich’s Hippodamia was a dramatic epic based on Greek legend, giving an international slant, whereas Suk’s melodramas were more lyrical and humanistic, and based on more localised Slavonic mythology. Hippodamia also represented more unified pure melodrama, while Suk’s works were combined with other musical components, such as songs, choruses and ballets. Musically, Fibich’s language was thoroughly west and central European, while Suk was seeking inspiration in Moravian and Slovak songs.
Popular Melodrama in the Czech Lands: From the Paris Boulevard du Crime to Prague’s Stavovské Divadlo
by Judith Mabary
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 142-170]
Early nineteenth century popular melodramas, deriving from Paris, and translated into Czech or German, soon became attractive to Prague audiences. Their popularity lasted throughout the century. The Paris melodrama was characteristically an amalgam of tragedy, comedy and pantomime. To appeal to a largely illiterate audience, sensationalism, spectacle, action and intrigue took precedence over dramatic quality, though there was always an underlining moral message in which good triumphed over evil. In Prague, Benda’s melodramas took a back seat to this popular form. Not until Fibich came on the scene was the indigenous classical melodrama rediscovered. Though the classical melodramas were musically and dramatically superior, the descendants of the imported popular genre continue to thrive today.
Czech and Slovak Musical Philately
by Richard Beith
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 20 (1997-8), pp. 170-196]
Czechoslovak stamps on musical subjects were first issued in 1934, in this case depicting Smetana and Dvořák, though special commemorative postmarks had appeared before then. Stamps with musical associations were issued even during the German occupation from 1939–45. Many more were to follow from 1945–1992, some of them celebrating anniversaries of births or deaths of composers, anniversaries of the founding of theatres and musical organisations, and of first performances of operas such as The Bartered Bride. From 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia issued their own stamps, and followed the same tradition of issues with musical themes.