The Dvořák Society and the study of Czech and Slovak classical music


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martinu_smile From 24-26 October 2014, Arts in Residence in association with The Dvořák Society is presenting a weekend event devoted to the life and music of Martinů, a fascinating composer who remains under-appreciated.

During the course of his extraordinary life Martinů produced a stream of compositions from opera to symphonies, concertos, chamber music, solo keyboard music, choral music and songs, which incorporated many of the chief stylistic developments of the time, such as impressionism, jazz, neoclassicism, and (Czech) nationalism and folksong. The weekend will explore aspects of this rich legacy, while discussing many of his greatest works, with illustrations on excellent hi-fi equipment including DVD with large screen.

The event will be held at the Grange Hotel, Oborne, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 4LA. Starting at 5.00pm on Friday 24th October and concluding with afternoon tea on Sunday 26th. It is aimed at the general music lover and technical knowledge of music is not necessary. All you need to be is someone with an interest in music who enjoys listening to it and sharing it with others.

Arts in Residence Director, Terry Barfoot, will be presenter at the event. Terry writes widely on music for Britain’s leading journals, orchestras, festivals and record companies. He lectures at Oxford University and venues throughout the country, and is Publications Consultant to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

The full programme and other details are on the Arts in Residence web site >

The Czech Tradition: Symphony and Symphonic Poem (22 – 24 November 2013)

 This event was held by Arts in Residence in association with The Dvořák Society. Held over a weekend at the Stratton House Hotel, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, it was devoted to an exploration of the rich legacy of Czech symphonies and symphonic poems from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The featured composers were:

  • Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739 – 1813)
  • Franz Krommer (František Vincenc Kramář) (1759 – 1831)
  • Jan Václav Voříšek (1791 – 1825)
  • Bedřich Smetana (1824 – 1884)
  • Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)
  • Zdeněk Fibich (1850 – 1900)
  • Leoš Janáček (1854 – 1928)
  • Vítězslav Novák (1870 – 1949)
  • Josef Suk (1874 – 1935)  photo above
  • Bohuslav Martinů (1890 – 1959)

University of Glasgow and Dvořák Society: day event “Smetana’s Má vlast and Czech history”, 23 March 2013

As part of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s 2012/13 season, the orchestra’s new Music Director, Peter Oundjian conducted three performances of the complete cycle of Smetana’s Má vlast (My Country). Because of the central position of Smetana’s great cycle in the development of Czech music and its wider national importance to the Czech people, the University of Glasgow in association with the Dvořák Society presented a day study event on 23 March 2013.

The event explored the history, topography, legends and musical motives which shaped the six symphonic poems that comprised Má vlast. It considered some performances recorded by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in historical circumstances where the work acquired more than musical significance.

Burton Manor Study Weekends: 1996 – 2009

Burton Manor Adult Residential College in Cheshire held annual study weekends on an aspect of Czech and Slovak music. The Dvořák Society provided the tutor for these events. Here is a list of the subjects chosen for each year —

  • 1996Antonín Dvořák and his place in Czech and world music
  • 1997Bedřich Smetana
  • 1998The life and works of Leoš Janáček
  • 1999The life and works of Martinů
  • 2000The pupils of Dvořák
  • 2001The Bohemian contemporaries of Mozart
  • 2002Smetana and the rise of Czech national opera
  • 2003The operas of Leoš Janáček
  • 2004Dvořák in England
  • 2005Smetana, Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů – who came next after the Great Four?
  • 2006The Symphonic Poem in Czech and Slovak national music
  • 2007The Czech contribution to the development of the symphony
  • 2008Janáček in Great Britain
  • 2009Martinů and his pupils

Closure of Burton Manor — unfortunately budget cuts caused the owner, Liverpool City Council, to close Burton Manor College with effect from 31 March 2011 — > report in Liverpool Echo, 21 December 2010.

University of Liverpool, Department of Continuing Education: Days of Czech Music 1983 – 2005

The Dvořák Society provided tutors for the following University of Liverpool daytime events, which were linked to concerts by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Lecturer & Topic RLPO Concert
/ 1989, 20 May /
Jan Smaczny: ‘Exploring Czech Nationalism in Music’ —
Introduction by Libor Pešek
An introduction to Czech Nationalsim
Czech national opera
The symphonic poem in Bohemia
Smetana: Má vlast
(cond. Pešek)
/ 1990, 28 April /
Jan Smaczny: ‘A further exploration of Czech music’ —
• The Great Tradition
• Janáček and the new realism
• Martinů, a Czech in exile
Suk: Ripening
Janáček: Glagolitic Mass
(cond. Pešek)
/ 1991, 25 May /
Patrick Lambert —
Introduction by Libor Pešek
• The Czech Symphony
• ‘From my life’ – autobiographical elements in Czechoslovak music
• Bohemians Abroad
Novak: In the Tatras
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Janáček: Sinfonietta (cond. Pešek)
/ 1992, 14 March /
Jan Smaczny: ‘The Czech Choral Tradition’
Introduction by Libor Pešek
Dvořák: Stabat Mater
(cond. Pešek)
/ 1993, 1 May /
Graham Melville-Mason: ‘The Czech Symphonic Poem’
Introduction by Libor Pešek
Smetana: Má vlast
(cond. Pešek)
/ 1994, 30 April /
Karel Janovický: ‘Reforms, Revolts & Revivals’
Peter Herbert: ‘Far From Home’
Patrick Lambert: ‘Chercher la femme!’
Mahler: First Symphony
(cond. Pešek)
/ 1998, 30 May /
Antonín Tucapský: ‘Czech Music – The Moravian Influence’
Suk: Fantastic Scherzo
Suk: Pohadka
Janáček: Glagolitic Mass
(cond. Altrichter)
/ 2000, 1 April /
Graham Melville-Mason: ‘Bohuslav Martinů – Reluctant Symphonist or Late Developer?’
Martinů: Third Symphony
(cond. Altrichter)
/ 2002, 9 February /
Graham Melville-Mason: ‘The Role of the Bohemian Wind Ensemble and its repertoire in Mozart’s day’
Mozart: Wind Serenade K.388
(cond. Pešek)
/ 2004, 21 February /
Graham Melville-Mason: ‘Dvořák 100 years on’
with contribution from Petr Altrichter
Dvořák: Scherzo Capriccioso
Cello Concerto & Symphony No.8
(cond. Altrichter)
/ 2005, 5 March /
Graham Melville-Mason: ‘The Life, Times and Works of Johann Nepomuk Hummel’
Hummel: Piano Concerto No 2
(cond. Justin Brown, replacing Pešek)