In final part of his survey Donald Macleod explores the methods Max Brod used to turn Janáček into a household name, with music from On the Overgrown Path and The Fiddler's Child.
In final part of his survey Donald Macleod explores the methods Max Brod used to make Janáček into a household name, with music from On the Overgrown Path, The Excursions of Mr Brouček and The Fiddler's Child.
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.
According to one of Janáček’s great champions, the pianist Rudolf Firkušný, without Max Brod, Leoš Janáček’s world reputation would not have arrived for many more years.” To which Sir Charles Mackerras, who made Janáček’s music known and loved in this country, added: “Perhaps never!”
Charles Mackerras, conductor
On the overgrown path (excerpts)
Rudolf Firkušný, piano
The Excursions of Mr Brouček
The Excursion of Mr Brouček to the Moon (Part 1 excerpt)
Jan Vacík, tenor, Matĕj Brouček
Peter Straka, tenor, Azurean
Roman Janál, baritone, Lunigrove
Maria Haan, soprano, Etherea
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bĕlohlávek, conductor
The Fiddler’s Child
Melina Mandozzi, violin
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Netherlands Chamber Choir
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
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