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President:
Jakub Hrůša
 
Patron:
Graham Melville-Mason
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Journal “Czech Music” Volume 8 (Abstract)

Contents of this page

Goethe and Tomášek
Sir Cecil Parrott
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1982), pp. 4-12]

      Having informed Goethe that he had set some of his poems to hear how German classical poetry sounded when set to music by a Czech, Tomášek was finally able to perform before the poet eighteen of his settings at a morning recital in Cheb. Goethe expressed his appreciation stating he had set Mignon’s song with greater understanding than Beethoven or Spohr. The fact that he also ignored the many settings of his poems by Schubert may have reflected Goethe’s interest in the time in Bohemian culture and the social life of the spas, and also perhaps the more conservative musical settings of Tomášek. His perceived conservatism and lack of contribution to national political revival led also to criticism of the composer in reformist Czech circles. These criticisms fail to appreciate the important contributions Tomášek made to Czech music, not least in his piano works.

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Josef Bohuslav Foerster
Robert Hopkins
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 8, No. 3 (1982), pp. 4-13]

      Foerster was born into a musical family, his father a Professor at Prague Conservatory. His long life makes Foerster difficult to classify among Czech composers. Influenced by foreign composers such as Schumann, Brahms, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, Fibich being his only Czech precursor, Foerster composed in a wide range of musical genres. The social realism of operas such as Eva was pioneering and clearly influenced Janáček’s Jenufa. Among his orchestral works, the 4th Symphony (Easter) and Cyrano de Bergerac are probably the most significant. He wrote some fine song cycles, while his choruses are considered second only in quality to those of Janáček though, as in other works, they are marked by lyrical beauty rather than the profound originality of the latter. Foerster’s musical style changed little over his long life and over 200 works with opus numbers, marked by some unevenness of quality, particularly in his later works. Numbered among Foerster’s pupils were Jirák, Borkoveč, Habá, Ridky and Jeremiaš.

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Dvořák, Josefina and the Cello Concerto
John Clapham
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, Vol. 8, No. 4 (1982), pp. 5-9]

      Two of Dvořák’s early works, the Cypresses song cycle and his 1st Symphony (The Bells of Zlonice) were the outcomes of his love for Josefina Čermáková. After his rejection by her, he transferred his affections to her younger sister Anna, whom he married in 1873. The significance of these compositions for the composer is relfected in the fact that he returned to music from these in composing later works, adapting the music from Cypresses for String Quartet while the piano cycle Silhouettes is closely based on The Bells of Zlonice. Dvořák’s affections for his sister-in-law remained and her ill health while he was in the United States caused him great anxiety. He had introduced into the slow movement of his 2nd Cello Concerto one of his songs which was a favourite of Josefina’s. On learning of her death soon after his return to Prague in 1895, he totally revised the conclusion of his 2nd Cello Concerto with a brooding coda which acted as a fitting memorial to Josefina.

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