Suk (I), Josef

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Suk (I), Josef

Suk (I), Josef, eminent Czech violinist, pedagogue, and composer, grandfather of Josef Suk (II); b. Krecov-ice, Jan. 4, 1874; d. Benesov, near Prague, May 29, 1935. He received training in piano, violin, and organ from his father, Josef Suk (1827-1913), the Krecovice school- and choirmaster; then took courses in violin with Bennewitz, in theory with Foerster, Knittl, and Stecker, and in chamber music with Wihan at the Prague Cons. (1885-91); after graduating in 1891, he pursued additional training in chamber music with Wihan and in composition with Dvorak at the Cons. (1891-92). In 1898 he married Dvorak’s daughter Otilie. He began his career playing second violin in Wihan’s string quartet, which became known as the Czech Quartet in 1892; he remained a member of it until his retirement in 1933. He also was a prof, of composition at the Prague Cons, (from 1922), where he was head of its master classes; also served as its rector (1924-26; 1933-35). Suk’s early works were greatly influenced by Dvorak; in later years his lyrical Romantic style evolved into an individual style characterized by polytonal writing and harmonic complexity bordering on atonality.


dramatic: Incidental Music: Radúz a Mahulena for Alto, Tenor, Reciters, Chorus, and Orch., op.13 (Prague, April 6, 1898; rev. 1912); Pod jabloni (Beneath the Apple Tree) for Alto, Reciters, Chorus, and Orch., op.20 (1900-1901; rev. 1911, 1915; Prague, Jan. 31, 1934). ORCH (all first perf. in Prague unless otherwise given): Fantasie for Strings (1888; Jan. 29, 1940); Smuetecni pochod (Funeral March; 1889; rev. 1934; June 3, 1935); Dramatická overturn, op.4 (1891-92; July 9, 1892); Serenade for Strings, op.6 (1892; Feb. 25, 1894); Pohádka zimniho vecera (Tale of a Winter’s Evening), overture after Shakespeare, op.9 (1894; April 7, 1895; rev. 1918, 1925); 2 syms.: No. 1 in E major, op.14 (1897-99; Nov. 25, 1899) and No. 2, Asrael, op.27 (1905-06; Feb. 3, 1907); Pohádka (Fairy Tale), suite from Radus a Mahulena, op.16 (1899-1900; Feb. 7, 1901); Fantasie for Violin and Orch., op.24 (1902-03; Jan. 9, 1904); Fantastické scherzo, op.25 (1903; April 18, 1905); Praga, symphonic poem, op.26 (Pilsen, Dec. 18, 1904); Pohádka Uta (A Summer Fairy Tale), symphonic poem, op.29 (1907-09; Jan. 26, 1909); Zráni (The Ripening), symphonic poem, op.34 (1912-17; Oct. 30, 1918); Meditace na staroëesky choral “Svaty Vaclave” (Meditation on an Old Czech Chorale “St. Wenceslas”) for Strings, op.35a (1914; also for String Quartet); Legenda o mrtvych vitëzich (Legend of the Dead Victors), op.35b (1919-20; Oct. 24, 1924); V nozy zivot (Toward a New Life), march, op.35c (June 27, 1920; also for Piano Duet); Pod Blanikem (Beneath Blanik), march (1932; orchestrated by J. Kalas; Jan. 26, 1934). CHAMBER: , Polka for Violin (1882); String Quartet (1888); Fantasy for String Quartet and Piano ad libidum (1888); Piano Quartet, op.l (1891); Piano Trio, op.2 (1889; rev. 1890-91); Balada for String Quartet (1890); Balada for Cello and Piano, op.3/1 (1890); Serenade for Cello and Piano, op.3/2 (c. 1898); Balada for Violin and Piano (1890); Melodie for 2 Violins (1893); Piano Quintet, op.8 (1893); String Quartet, op.11 (1896; last movement rev. 1915 and left as an independent work); 4 Pieces for Violin and Piano, op.17 (1900); Elegie: Pod dojmen Zeyerova Vysehradu (Under the Impression of Zeyer’s Vysehrad) for Violin, Cello, String Quartet, Harmonium, and Harp, op.23 (1902; also for Piano Trio); String Quartet, op.31 (1911); Meditace na staroëesky choral “Svaty Vaclave” (Meditation on an Old Czech Chorale “St. Wenceslas”) for String Quartet, op.35a (1914; also for String Orch.); Bagatelle: S kyticí v ruce (Carrying a Bouquet) for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1917); Sousedská for 5 Violins, Double Bass, Cymbals, Triangle, and Large and Small Drums (1935). Piano: Sonata (1883); Overture (1884-85); Polonaise (1886-87); Jindfichohradecky cyklus (Jindrichûv Hradec Suite; 1886-87); Fugue (1888); Tri pisnë beze slov (3 Songs without Words; 1891); Fantaisie-polonaise, op.5 (1892); 6 pieces, op.7 (1891-93); Capriccietto (1893); Humoreska (1894); Lístek do památníku (Album Leaf; 1895); Nálady (Moods), op.10 (1895); 8 pieces, op.12 (1895-96); Sonatina, op.13 (1897; rev. as Suite, op.21, 1900); Vesnická serenada (Village Serenade; 1897); Jaro (Spring), op.22a (1902); Letni dojmy (Summer Moods), op.22b (1902); O matinee (About Mother), op.28 (1907); Psina spanëlskâ (Spanish Joke; 1909); Zivotem a snem (Things Lived and Dreamt), op.30 (1909); Ukolébavky, op.33 (1910-12); O pfátelství (Friendship), op.36 (1920). VOCAL: Kfecovická mse (Krecovice Mass) for Chorus, Strings, and Organ (1888-89); Epilog for Soprano, Baritone, Bass, 2 Choruses, and Orch., op.37 (1920-33; Dec. 20, 1933); men’s choruses; songs.


J. Kvt, ed., J. S.: Zivot a dilo: Studie a vzpominsky (J. S.: Life and Works: Studies and Reminiscences; Prague, 1935); idem, J. S. (Prague, 1936); J. Sach, ed., J. S.: Vzpomínková mozaika (J. S.: A Mosaic of Reminiscences; Prague, 1941); V. Stepán, Novák a S.(Prague, 1945); J. Květ, ed., Zě iva slova J.a S.a (In J. S.’s Own Words; Prague, 1946); O. Filipovsky, Klavirni tvorba J.a S.a (J. S.’s Piano Works; Plzen, 1947); J. Květ, J. S. (Prague, 1947); J. Berkovec, J. S. (1874-1935): Zivot a dilo (J. S. [1874-1935]: Life and Works; Prague, 1956; second ed., 1962; rev. and abr. ed., 1968, as J. S.; Eng., Ger., French, and Russian trs., 1968); J. Květ, J. S. v obrazech (J. S. in Pictures; Prague, 1964); Z. Sádecky, Lyrismus v tvorbě J.a S.a (Lyricism in J. S.’s Works; Prague, 1966); M. Svobodová, J. S.: Tematicky Katalog (Jinočany, 1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire