Main content

Fame at last

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!”

Žárlivost
Vienna Philharmonic
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 Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bĕlohlávek, conductor

The Fiddler’s Child
Melina Mandozzi, violin
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Gardner

Potulný šílenec
Netherlands Chamber Choir
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor

24 days left to listen

59 minutes

Last on

Last Friday 12:00

Music Played

  • Leos Janáček

    Jealousy (Original Prelude To Jenufa)

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • Decca 414 48-3 2.
    • Decca 414 48-3 2.
    • 1.
  • Leos Janáček

    On an Overgrown Path (excerpts)

    Performer: Rudolf Firkušný.
    • DG 449 762-2.
    • DG 449 762-2.
    • 2.
  • Leos Janáček

    The Excursions of Mr Brouček: Part I (excerpt)

    Performer: Peter Straka. Choir: BBC Singers. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek. Singer: Jan Vacik. Singer: Roman Janál. Singer: Maria Haan.
    • DG 4777387.
    • DG 4777387.
    • 1.
  • Leos Janáček

    The Fiddler's Child for violin and orchestra

    Performer: Melina Mandozzi. Orchestra: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Edward Gardner.
    • Chandos: CHSA 5156.
    • Chandos.
    • 4.
  • Leos Janáček

    Potulny Silenec (The Wandering Madman)

    Choir: Nederlands Kamerkoor. Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw.
    • PHILIPS : 442-534-2.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 10.

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.