Main content

Dvořák, a mentor and a friend

Donald Macleod explores Janáček's friendship with Dvořák, with music from Janáček's first opera, Šárka and Sinfonietta.

Donald Macleod explores Janáček’s friendship with Dvořák, with music from Janáček’s first opera Šárka and Sinfonietta.

One of the most original voices of the twentieth century, Leoš Janáček was a composer, musical theorist, folklorist and teacher. Born in 1854 in the Moravian village of Hukvaldy, which was then part of the Austrian Empire, in his youth German was the language of government, education and social influence. Having returned from studies in Germany, Janáček made detailed studies of native folk song and spent years annotating the natural rhythms of the Czech language. He was to write all his works for stage in his native language. The range of his professional activities gave him a range of outlets to voice what quickly became a life-long commitment to Czech culture.

Janáček was a contradictory man, who spent much of his life feeling at odds with his circumstances. Through five of his closest relationships, Donald Macleod builds a picture of how his inner tensions found expression in his music. The longest and most fractured of his associations was with his German speaking wife Zdenka. After a shaky start, he grew very close to his daughter Olga, with whom he shared his love of Russian literature. His friendship with the literary collaborator Max Brod proved to be the turning point in his quest for professional standing, while his muse Kamila Stösslova became the joy and agony of his later, creatively enriched years. As a young man Janáček turned to Antonín Dvořák. They shared an interest in folk music, and the older composer proved to be a loyal friend and mentor.

It was when Janáček was in his twenties, studying in Prague around 1874, that he is thought to have first met Dvořák. Their association was to last until the older composer’s death in 1904.

Suite for Strings, Andante con moto (3rd mvt)
Janacek Chamber Orchestra

Four male-voice choruses
Ȯ lásko (O, love) JW IV/17
Ach, vojna! (Oh to be a soldier) JWIV/17
Moravian Teachers’ Choir
Lubomir Mati, director

Lachian Dances
No 1: Starodavny (Old-Time Dance)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Ondrej Lenárd, conductor

Šárka (excerpt from Act 1)
Peter Straka, tenor, Ctirad
Eva Urbanová, soprano, Šárka
Prague Philharmonic Chorus
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Sinfonietta
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Karel Ančerl, conductor

20 days left to listen

59 minutes

Last on

Mon 2 Dec 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Leos Janáček

    Suite for strings (Andante con moto)

    Orchestra: Janáčkův Komorní Orchestr.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-10678.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 1.
  • Leos Janáček

    O lásko (O, love)

    Choir: Moravian Teachers' Choir. Conductor: Lubomír Mátl.
    • Naxos: 8553623.
    • Naxos.
    • 6.
  • Leos Janáček

    Ach, vojna! (Oh to be a soldier)

    Choir: Moravian Teachers' Choir. Conductor: Lubomír Mátl.
    • Naxos: 8553623.
    • Naxos.
    • 6.
  • Leos Janáček

    Lachian Dances, No 1

    Performer: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava.
    • Naxos 8550411.
    • Naxos 8550411.
    • 1.
  • Leos Janáček

    Sarka: Act I (extract)

    Singer: Peter Straka. Singer: Eva Urbanová. Choir: Pražský filharmonický sbor. Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • Supraphon SU 3485-2.
    • Supraphon SU 3485-2.
    • 4.
  • Leos Janáček

    Sinfonietta

    Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic. Conductor: Karel Ančerl.
    • FIDELIO : 1852.
    • FIDELIO.
    • 1.

Broadcast

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.