The Music Room > Composer Discussion

Janáček (Leoš' Lair)

(1/80) > >>

This post made it clear that this thread has been wanted for a long time:

--- Quote from: lukeottevanger on June 12, 2007, 03:15:29 AM ---

--- Quote from: Larry Rinkel on June 12, 2007, 03:06:23 AM ---Luke, I hear Boulez is going to conduct this sometime soon. What is your reason for putting it at the top of the Janacek heap?

--- End quote ---

It is the most advanced example of the 'integrative' aesthetic that he applied to all his music, but especially from about 1917 onwards. In other words, it is a stark, spare, stripped-down piece where every note speaks volumes. That was always Janacek's ideal; he achieves it more than any other composer I know - but From the House of the Dead goes furthest in that direction, and is also a very brave human document.

Janacek's 'Violin Concerto' - left in a sketched state and later reconstructed - is closely linked to this opera thematically. For that reason - bizarrely, as it isn't a true 100% Janacek work - I think it is among the most essential pieces of orchestral music in his output. An incredibly beautiful piece, too.

--- End quote ---

How about a bio?


On the subject of his operas (well, they were mentioned in the quote, anyway :P), can anyone recommend any DVDs? Well, with a composer like Janacek I suppose you must take what you can find, so perhaps recommend any to avoid...

I recently ordered this one, which is on back-order atm:

Scary as hell cover, btw :-\

Whenever a new Janacek thread starts up - when the board moves somewhere new, or the old thread gets lost 40 pages pack - I start to worry! Only because I find it hard to re-articulate why he is such an important figure for me. I don't claim any 'greatest ever' status for him; I simply find him to be the musician who affects me the deepest. I have my reasons, but I've stated them so often on this board and previous incarnations over the years, I find it hard to do it in a new way.

So, for now, here's what I wrote the last time a thread on Janacek was started, on the previous GMG. It dates from March this year

--- Quote from: Luke ---I haven’t posted on this thread until now, and, as the forum’s self-appointed Janacek geek/obsessive, this may seem peculiar. The simple fact is I haven’t been able to until now as I have been away this weekend.

The fact is, I was attending the funeral of my much-loved grandmother, and I mention this simply because her history, and her family, are among other things an important part of my closeness to Janacek. She was Czech, and her family was rooted in artistic and intellectual circles (Franz Werfel, Hanna Fuchs-Robettin of the Lyric Suite fame, VPO lead cellist Friedrich Buxbaum….). Amongst these was the uncle of her husband (my grandfather), the writer (and sometime composer) Max Brod, [in]famous as an all-important friend of Kafka’s, and only slightly less so for his pivotal  impact on Janacek’s career. Through Max Brod, my grandfather met Janacek on one single occasion - my grandfather must can only have been in his teens. Knowledge of this meeting always makes me shiver.

So, yes, there are family roots to time and place and even to Janacek personally; his musical style speaks directly to my heart; there is no other composer whose every note seems to me to be so right and so potent - but my adoration of Janacek is deeper rooted than that. When I was at university I wrote my final year’s dissertation tracing the course of Janacek’s aesthetic stances throughout his life, as revealed in his letters, his theoretical writings and of course his music. This course can be summed up in one or two words: Integration, and Truth. The latter was of prime importance to Janacek - truth to the characters of his operas, psychological truth and musical truth. He believed, IMO rightly, that all this could only follow from absolutely scrupulous truth to himself, and his music is marked by an ever greater Integration (his word, but an appropriate one) by means of which he strips his music of all inessentials and non sequiturs until all that is left, every note, absolutely drips with ‘truth’ (as he said of Wozzeck - ‘every note drips with blood’). No other composer I know of pursued this course with the zeal Janacek did - he was quite to happy to accept certain sorts of ‘imperfection’, even to welcome them, in the pursuit of the goal of directness and honesty.  As a composer of sorts myself, his example is the greatest possible inspiration to me, and I have been striving to follow it, in my own way, these last few years. Any success I have had in my pieces I attribute solely to the soul-searching this has entailed, and I suppose, indirectly at least, to the unique way in which Janacek made a virtue of what are traditionally seen as musical vices, by realising the deeper musical truths that lay beneath them. In brief, he discovered that if one means every note of what one says, understanding the implications from every angle, one can turn the worn-out ruts of musical habit and inclination into routes straight to the heart.

Naturally, I love almost all his works, but FWIW the ones which I revere above all others are:

Operas: the big five (Broucek, Makropulos, Katya, Vixen and House of the Dead, especially the last three)

intimate Letters Quartet

Diary of One Who Disappeared  (these last two pieces are top of the list, in fact)

In the Mists

Bezruc Choruses

The Fiddler’s Child
--- End quote ---

Choo Choo:
Anyone within reach of Covent Garden and interested in Katya Kabanova should know that (as predicted by someone ;)) the ROH is now offering seats for the current production at cut-price, with Orchestra Stalls (normally £130) going for £65.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version