Janácek, Leoš

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Janáček, Leoš

Janáček, Leoš, greatly significant Czech composer; b. Hukvaldy, Moravia, July 3, 1854; d. Moravská Ostrava, Aug. 12, 1928. At the age of 11, he was sent to Brno to serve as a chorister at the Augustinian Queen’s Monastery, where he was schooled under its choirmaster, Křίzkovský. After studies at the German Coll., he was a scholarship student at the teacher’s training college (1869–72). He then began his teaching career while serving as choirmaster at the monastery; he also served as choirmaster of the men’s chorus, Svatopluk (1873–77), taking an opportunity to study organ with Skuherský at the Prague Organ School (1874–75). He conducted the Beseda Choral Soc. in Brno (1876–88), and also pursued studies at the Leipzig Cons., where he took music history courses with Oskar Paul and composition courses with Leo Grill (1879–80). He continued his composition studies with Franz Krenn at the Vienna Cons. (1880). Returning to Brno, he was appointed the first director of the new organ school (1881). His social position in Brno was enhanced by his marriage to Zdenka Schulzovâ, the daughter of the director of the teachers’ training college. He also engaged in scholarly activities; from 1884 to 1886 he was ed. of the music journal Hudebni Listy (Music Bulletins); he further became associated with František Bartoš in collecting Moravian folk songs. From 1886 to 1902 he taught music at the Brno Gymnasium. In 1919 he retired from his directorship of the Brno Organ School, and then taught master classes in Brno (1920–25). Throughout all these busy years, he worked diligently on his compositions, showing particular preference for operas.

Janáček’s style of composition underwent numerous transformations, from Romantic techniques of established formulas to bold dissonant combinations. He was greatly influenced by the Russian musical nationalism exemplified by the “realistic” speech inflections in vocal writing. He visited St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1896 and 1902, and publ, his impressions of the tour in the Brno press. From 1894 to 1903 he worked assiduously on his most important opera, Jeji pastorkyňa (Her Foster Daughter), to a highly dramatic libretto set in Moravia in the mid- 19th century, involving a jealous contest between two brothers for the hand of Jenůfa (the innocent heroine), and infanticide at the hands of a foster mother, with an amazing outcome absolving Jenůfa and her suitors. The opera encountered great difficulty in securing production in Prague because of its grisly subject, but was eventually produced on various European stages, mostly in the German text, and under the title Jenůfa. Another opera by Janáček that attracted attention was Výlet pana Broučka do XV stoleti (Mr. Brouček’s Excursion to the 15th Century), depicting the imaginary travel of a Czech patriot to the time of the religious struggle mounted by the followers of the nationalist leader Hus against the established church. There followed an operatic fairy tale, Píihody Lišky Bystroušky (The Adventures of the Vixen Bystrouška, or The Cunning Little Vixen), and a mystery play, Věc Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair). Janáček’s great interest in Russian literature was reflected in his opera Kát’a Kabanová, after the drama The Storm by the Russian playwright Ostrovsky, and one after Dostoyevsky, Z mrtvćho domu (From the House of the Dead). He further composed a symphonic poem, Taras Bulba (the fictional name of a Ukrainian patriot, after a story by Gogol). In 1917 Janáčcek became enamored of Kamila Stässlová, the 26 year-old wife of an antique dealer. His unconsum-mated love for her proved an inspiration and led to the composition of several major works by an aging composer. Like most artists, writers, and composers of Slavic origin in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, Janáček had a natural interest in the Pan-Slavic movement, with an emphasis on the common origins of Russian, Czech, Slovak, and other kindred cultures; his Glagolitic Mass, to a Latin text tr. into the Czech language, is an example. Jan´ček lived to witness the fall of the old Austrian regime and the national rise of the Slavic populations. He also showed great interest in the emerging Soviet school of composition, even though he refrained from any attempt to join that movement. Inevitably, he followed the striking innovations of the modern school of composition as set forth in the works of Stravinsky and Schoenberg, but he was never tempted to experiment along those revolutionary lines. He remained faithful to his own well-defined style, and it was as the foremost composer of modern Czech music that he secured for himself his unique place in history.


dramatic: Opera: Šárka (1887-88; rev. 1918-19, with Act 3 orchestrated by O. Chlubna; rev. 1924-25; Brno, Nov. 11, 1925); Počátek romanu (The Beginning of a Romance; 1891; Brno, Feb. 10, 1894); Jeji pastorkyna (Her Foster Daughter; generally known by its German title, Jenůfa; 1894-1903; Brno, Jan. 21, 1904; several subsequent revisions, including final version by K. Kovařovic, 1916; Prague, May 26, 1916); Osud (Fate; 1903-05; rev. 1906-07; 1st complete perf., Brno Radio, Sept. 18, 1934; 1st stage perf., National Theater, Brno, Oct. 25, 1958); Výlet pana Broučka do měsice (Mr. Brouček’s Excursion to the Moon; 1908-17; National Theater, Prague, April 23, 1920); a sequel to the preceding, Výlet pana Brouč do XV stoleti (Mr. Broucek’s Excursion to the 15th Century; 1917; National Theater, Prague, April 23, 1920); Kát’a Kabanová (1919-21; Brno, Nov. 23, 1921); Příhody Lišky Bystroušky (The Adventures of the Vixen Bystrouška; The Cunning Little Vixen; 1921-23; Brno, Nov. 6, 1924); Věc Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair; 1923-25; Brno, Dec. 18, 1926); Z mrtvého domu (From the House of the Dead; 1927-28; rev. and reorchestrated by O. Chlubna and B. Bakala, 1930; Brno, April 12, 1930). folk ballet:Rákos Rákoczy (National Theater, Prague, July 24, 1891). ORCH.: Suite for Strings (Brno, Dec. 2, 1877); Idyll for Strings (Brno, Dec. 15, 1878); Suite (Serenade), op. 3 (1891; Brno, Sept. 23, 1928); Adagio (1891); Žárlivost (Jealousy), overture (1894; 1st concert perf., Prague, Nov. 10, 1906); Šumařovo dítě (The Fiddler’s Child), ballad (1912; Prague, Nov. 14, 1917); Taras Bulba, rhapsody after Gogol (1915-18; Brno, Oct. 9, 1921); Balada blanická (The Ballad of Blanik), symphonic poem (Brno, March 21, 1920); Sinfonietta (Prague, June 29, 1926); Dunaj (The Danube), symphonic poem (1923-28; unfinished; completed by O. Chlubna, 1948); Violin Concerto: Putování dušičky (Pilgrimage of the Soul; 1926; Brno, Sept. 29, 1988). CHAMBER: Znělka (Fanfare) for 4 Violins (1875); Zvuky ku památce Förchgotta-Tovačovského (Sounds in Memory of Forchgotta- Tovacovskeho) for 3 Violins, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass (c. 1875); Romance for Violin and Piano (1879); Dumka for Violin and Piano (1880); Prohádka (Fairy Tale) for Cello and Piano (1910; rev. 1923); Presto for Cello and Piano (c. 1910); Violin Sonata (1914-21; Balada only); 2 string quartets: No. 1 (1923-24; Prague, Sept. 17, 1924; based on the lost Piano Trio of 1908-9) and No. 2, Listy dûvërné (Intimate Letters; Brno, Sept. 11, 1928; rev. 1947 by O. Šourek); Mládi (Youth), suite for Wind Sextet (Brno, Oct. 21, 1924); Pochod Modráčkû (March of the Blue Boys) for Piccolo and Piano (1924); Concertino for Piano, 2 Violins, Viola, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon (1925; Brno, Feb. 16, 1926); Capriccio Vzdor (Defiance) for Piano, Left-hand, and Chamber Ensemble (1926; Prague, March 2, 1928). Piano: Thema con variazioni (Zdenciny variace: Zdenka Variations; 1880); Na pam´tku (In Memoriam; c. 1886); Po zarostlém chodničku (On the Overgrown Path), 15 pieces (1901-8; 7 originally for Harmonium); Sonata 1.X.1905 Z ulice (From the Street; 1905; only 2 movements extant; inspired by the abortive but sanguine Russian revolt); V mlh´ch (In the Mists; 1912; rev. 1949, by B. Štědroń); VzpominL• (Reminiscence; 1928). vocal: choral: sacred:Fidelis servus for Mixed Voices (c. 1870); Graduale in festo purifications B.V.M.. for Mixed Voices (c. 1870; rev. 1887); Mass (c. 1870; not extant); Graduale (Speciosus forma) for Mixed Voices and Organ (1874); Introitus (in festo Ss. Nominis Jesu) for Mixed Voices and Organ (c. 1874); Benedictus for Soprano, Mixed Voices, and Organ (1875); Exaudi Deus for Mixed Voices and Organ (1875); Exaudi Deus for Mixed Voices (1875); Odpočin si (Take your rest for Men’s Voices (c. 1875); Regnum mundi for Mixed Voices (c. 1878); Sanctus for Mixed Voices (1879); Deset českých církevních zpěvo z Lehnerova mešního kancinonálu (10 Czech Hymns from the Lehner Hymnbook for Mass) with Organ (1881); Ave Maria (1883); Hospodine! (Lord Have Mercy) for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Double Chorus, Organ, Harp, 4 Trombones, and Tuba (1896); Slavnostni sbor (Festival Chorus) for Men’s Voices (1897); Svatý Václave! (St. Wenceslas; 1902); Constitues for Men’s Voices and Organ (c. 1902); Zdrávas Maria for Tenor, Mixed Voices, and Organ (1904); (7) Církevni zpěvy české vicehlasné z píborského kancion´lu (Czech Hymns for Several Voices from the Pribor Hymnbook; c. 1904); Mass in E- flat major for Voices and Organ (1907-08; left incomplete; finished and orchestrated by V. Petrželka; Brno, March 7, 1943); Veni sancte spiritus for Men’s Voices (1910). secular (all for Men’s Voices unless otherwise given): Srbská lidová piseň (Serbian Folk Song) for Mixed Voices (1873); Or´aní (Ploughing; 1873); Válečná (War Song; 1873); Nestálost lásky (The Fickleness of Love; 1873); Osámělá bez techy (Alone without Comfort; 1874; rev. 1898 and 1925); Divim se milému (I Wonder at My Beloved; c. 1875); Vínek stonulý (A Drowned Wreath; c. 1875); Láska opradivá (True Love; 1876); Když mne nechceš coz je vic (If You Don’t Want Me, What Else Is There?; 1876); Zpěvná duma (Choral Elegy; 1876); Slavnostni sbor (Festival Chorus) for Soloists and Voices (1877); Osudu neujdeš (You Cannot Escape Your Fate; 1878); Na košatej jedli dva holubi sed’á (On the Bushy Fir Tree 2 Pigeons Are Perched; c. 1878); Píseň v jeseni (Autumn Song) for Mixed Voices (1880); Na prievoze (c. 1883); Mužské sbory (Men’s Voice Choruses; 1885); Kačena divoká (The Wild Duck) for Mixed Voices (c. 1885); Tri mužské sbory (3 Men’s Voice Choruses; 1888); Naše piseň (Our Song) for Mixed Voices and Orch. (1890); Zelené sem sela (I Have Sown Green) for Mixed Voices and Orch. (1892); Což ta naše bfiza (Our Birch Tree; 1893); Vinek (The Garland; 1893); Už je slúnko z tej hory ven (The Sun Has Risen above That Hill) for Baritone, Mixed Voices, and Piano (1894); Čtvero mužsk´ych sborů moravských (4 Moravian Men’s Voice Choruses; 1904); Kantor Halfar (1906); Maryčka Magdónova (1906–07); Sedmdesát tisíc (The 70, 000; 1909); Perina (The Eiderdown; c. 1914); Vlči stopa (The Wolf’s Trail) for Soprano, Women’s Voices, and Piano (1916); Hradčanské pisničky (Songs of Hradcany) for Women’s Voices (1916); Kaspar Rucký for Soprano and Women’s Voices (1916); Česká legie (The Czech Legion; 1918); Potulný šílenec (The Wandering Madman) for Soprano and Men’s Voices (1922); Naše vlajka (Our Flag) for 2 Sopranos and Men’s Voices (1925–26); Sbor při kladenízakladního kamene Masarykovy university v Brne (Chorus for Laying the Foundation Stone of Masaryk Univ. in Brno; 1928). cantatas:Amarus for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1897; Kroměříž, Dec. 2, 1900; rev. 1901 and 1906); Otče náš (Our Father) for Tenor, Chorus, and Piano or Harmonium (Brno, June 15, 1901; rev. 1906); Elegie na smrt dcery Olgy (Elegy on the Death of My Daughter Olga) for Tenor, Chorus, and Piano (1903; rev. 1904; Brno Radio, Dec. 20, 1930); Na Soláni Čarták (Cartak on the Solan) for Tenor, Men’s Voices, and Orch. (1911; Brno, March 13, 1912); Věčné evangelium (The Eternal Gospel) for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1914; Prague, Feb. 5, 1917; rev. 1924); Glagolská mše (Glagolitic Mass) for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, Orch., and Organ (1926; Brno, Dec. 5, 1927). chamber vocal:Zapisnik zmizeleho (The Diary of One Who Disappeared), song cycle for Tenor, Alto, 3 Women’s Voices, and Piano (1917-19; Brno, April 18, 1921); Řikadla (Nursery Rhymes), 8 pieces for 3 Women’s Voices, Clarinet, and Piano (Brno, Oct. 26, 1925; rev. version, 1927, as 18 pieces and an introduction for 2 Sopranos, 2 Altos, 3 Tenors, 2 Basses, 9 Instruments, and Children’s Drum). Janáček made many arrangements of folk music and prepared the following eds. of folk songs: with F. Bartoš, Kytice Z národních písní moravských (A Bouquet of Moravian Folk Songs; Tele, 1890; 3rd ed., rev., 1901; 4th ed., 1953, edited by A. Gregor and B. Štědroň); 53 songs (Telč, 1892-1901; 2nd ed., 1908, as Moravaská lidová poesie v pisnich; Moravian Folk Poetry in Songs; 4th ed., 1947, edited by B. Ště;droń); with F. Bartoš, Ná;rodni pisne moravské v nově nasbirané (Moravian Folk Songs Newly Collected; 1899); with P. Váša, Moravské pisné milostné (Moravian Love Songs; 1928). A complete critical ed. of the works of Janáček began publication in Prague in 1978.


J. Vysloužil, ed., O lidové pisni a lidové hudbě (Folk Song and Folk Music; Prague, 1955); Z. Blaźek, ed., Hudebné teoretické dilo (Music Theory Works; 2 vols., Prague, 1968, 1974); M. Boyars, ed., J.’s Uncollected Essays on Music (London and N.Y., 1989).


source material: His correspondence was ed. by A. Rektorys and J. Racek (9 vols., Prague, 1934-53); J. Racek, ed., L. J.; Obraz života a dila (L. J.: A Picture of His Life and Works; Brno, 1948); B. Štědroň, L. J. v obrazech (L. J. in Pictures; Prague, 1958); idem, Dilo Leoše Janáčka: Abecedni seznam Janáč;kových skladeb a úprav (L. J.’s Works: An Alphabetical Catalog of J.’s Compositions and Arrangements; Prague, 1959; Eng. tr., 1959, as The Work ofl.J.); T. Strakova, ed., Iconographia janáčkiana (Brno, 1975); N. Simeone, The First Editions of L. J.: A Bibliographical Catalogue, with Reproductions of Title Pages (Tutz-ing, 1991); J. Tyrrell, ed. and tr., Intimate Letters: L J. to Kamila Stösslová (Princeton, 1994); M. Beckerman and G. Bauer, eds., J. and Czech Music (Stuyvesant, N.Y, 1995); N. Simeone, J. Tyrrell, A. Ně;mcová, and T. Straková, J. Works: A Catalogue of the Music and Writings (Oxford, 1997). biographical: M. Brod, L. J.: Život a dilo (L. J.: Life and Works; Prague, 1924; Ger. ed., 1925; 2nd ed., rev., 1956); D. Muller, L. J. (Paris, 1930); A. Vašek, Po stopách dra Leoše janáčka (On the Track of Dr. L. J.; Brno, 1930); H. Kašlik, L. J. dirigent (Prague, 1936); O. Jeremiáš, L J. (Prague, 1938); V Helfert, L. J. (Brno, 1939); idem, O Janáčkovi (About J.; ed. by B. Ště;droň, Prague, 1949); H. Richter, L. J. (Leipzig, 1958); J. Vogel, L. J.; Leben und Werk (Kassel, 1958; Eng. tr., 1962; 2nd ed., rev., 1980); J. Šeda, L. J. (Prague, 1961); J. Racek, L. J.: Mensch und Kūnstler (Leipzig, 1962; 2nd ed., 1971; Czech ed., 1963); H. Hollander, L. J. (London, 1963; Ger. ed., 1964); M. Černohorská, L. J. (in Eng.; Prague, 1966); B. Š;tědroň, L. J.: K jeho lidskému a uměleckému profilu (L. J.’s Image as Man and Artist; Brno, 1976); J. Vysloužil, L. J. (Brno, 1978); I. Horsbrugh, L. J. (Newton Abbot, 1981); K. Honolka, L. J.: Sein Leben, sein Werk, seine Zeit (Stuttgart, 1982); S. Přibáňová, L. J. (Prague, 1984); C. Susskind, J. and Brod (London, 1986); F. Pulcini, J.: Vita, opere, scritti (Florence, 1993). critical, analytical: L. Firkušný, Odkaz Leoše Janáčka české opeře (L. J.’s Legacy to Czech Opera; Brno, 1939); L. Kundera, Janáč;kova varhanická škola (J.’s Organ School; Olomouc, 1948); B. Štědroň, Zur Genesis von L. j.s Oper Jenůfa (Brno, 1968; 2nd ed., 1971); A. Tučapský, Mužské sbory Leoše Janáčka a jejich interpretačni tradice (L. J.’s Male Voice Choruses and Their Performance Tradition; Ostrava, 1968); E. Chisholm, The Operas of L. J. (Oxford, 1971); T. Kneif, Die Bühnenwerke von L. J. (Vienna, 1974); A. Geck, Das Volksliedmaterial L. J.s: Analysen der Strukturen unter Einbeziehung von J.s Randbemerkungen und Volkstudien (Regensburg, 1975); D. Ströbel, Motiv und Figur in den Kompositionen der Jenufa-Werkgruppe (Freiburg, 1975); M. Ewans, J.’s Tragic Operas (London, 1977); Z. Skoumal, Structure in the Late Instrumental Music of L. J. (diss., City Univ. of N.Y., 1992); J. Tyrrell, ed., J.’s Operas: A Documentary Account (Princeton, N.J., 1992); P. Wingfield, J.: Glagolithic Mass (Cambridge, 1992); M. Beckerman, J. as Theorist (Stuyvesant, N.Y., 1993); W. Bernhart, ed., L. J. Konzeption und Rezeption seines musikdramatischen Schaffens (Anif, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire