Musica non grata: Janáček – Martinů
The National TheatreApproximate running time
1 hour 10 minutes, no intermissionPremiere
June 12, 2021
Janáček's The Diary of One Who Disappeared marks as one of the most popular composer's work. In The Opening of Wells by Martinů he reminisces his beloved Vysočina.
About a concert
Leoš Janáček: The Diary of One Who Disappeared
Cycle of 22 songs for tenor, an alto and three female voices and piano on poetry by Ozef Kalda.
The Diary of One Who Disappeared premiered on 18 April 1921 at the Reduta in Brno, and featured Janáček’s students, the tenor Karel Zavřel, the alto Ludmila Kvapilová-Kudláčková and the pianist Břetislav Bakala. The remarkable song cycle, quite challenging to perform, has long been one of the most popular Janáček works. Janáček found the inspiration in a poem by an anonymous author published in Lidové noviny under the title From the Pen of a Self-taught Writer. Janáček was deeply impressed by the story’s dramatic drift and erotic charge, as well as the Wallachian dialect in which the verses were penned, and he duly decided to set the text to a song cycle. Janáček was evidently inspired by Kamila Stösslová, who remained his muse for the rest of his life. The song cycle received its first staged performance in 1926 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in 1943 there was its first Czech dramatic adaptation, in Plzeň. Although having been primarily played in concert, The Diary of One Who Disappeared has been adapted into several theatre productions and two films, the first directed by Václav Kašlík and the second by Jaromil Jireš.
The chamber cantata The Opening of the Wells ranks among Bohuslav Martinů’s best-known compositions, and has engrossed generations of musicians and listeners alike. Even though since 1938 Martinů had lived abroad, in France and, later on, in the USA, and, as a “persona non grata” due to his political opinions and art could not return home, he never forgot about his country, reflecting his love in music. In July 1955, which he spent in Nice, the composer completed the cantata The Opening of the Wells, to the poem The Song of the Rubínka Well, which its author, Miloslav Bureš, had sent him a month previously. Recalling his native Vysočina region and the village of Tři Studny, where he spent July 1938 with the family of his pupil Vítězslava Kaprálová, Martinů created one of his most heartfelt pieces. In a letter to Bureš, he wrote: “Your poem about a well deeply moved me, not only because you love Vysočina, but also because it is really beautiful. It has brought back many memories – precious indeed …”
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