LEOS JANACEK

3rd July 1854 --- 12th August 1928

Leos Janacek(born 1854, Hukvaldy, Moravia, Austrian Empire--died 1928, Ostrava, Czech.), composer, one of the most important exponents of musical nationalism of the 20th century.

Janácek was a choirboy at Brno and studied at the Prague, Leipzig, and Vienna conservatories. In 1881 he founded a college of organists at Brno, which he directed until 1920. He directed the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from 1881 to 1888 and in 1919 became professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory. Deeply interested in folk music, he collected folk songs with Frantisek Bartos and between 1884 and 1888 published the journal Hudební Listy (Musical Pages). His first opera, Sárka (1887-88, produced 1925), was a Romantic work in the spirit of Wagner and Smetana. In his later operas he developed a distinctly Czech style intimately connected with the inflections of his native speech and, like his purely instrumental music, making use of the scales and melodic characteristics of Moravian folk music. His most important operas were Jenufa (original title, Její pastorkyna, 1904; Her Foster Daughter), which established Janácek's international reputatio,; Vec Makropulos (1926, The Makropulos Case), Z mrtvého domu (1930, From the House of the Dead ), the two one-act satirical operas Výlet pana Broucka do Mesíce (Mr. Broucek's Excursion to the Moon) and Výlet pana Broucka do XV stol (Mr. Broucek's Excursion to the 15th Century), both performed in Prague in 1920, and the comic opera Príhody Lisky Bystrousky (1924, The Cunning Little Vixen). His operas are marked by a skilled use of music to heighten dramatic impact.

His choral works also show his manner of modelling the writing for voices on the inflections of his native language, most significantly the Glagolská mse (1926; Glagolitic Mass), also called the Slavonic or Festival Mass. It is written in the liturgical language Old Slavonic, but because it uses instruments it cannot be performed in the Orthodox Church service. His song cycles Zápisník zmizelého (1917-19; Diary of One Who Vanished) and Rikadla (1925-27; Nursery Rhymes) are also notable.

Janácek visited Russia three times and developed an interest in Russian language and literature. Works arising from this interest include the opera Kát'a Kabanová (1921) and the orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba (1918).

Janácek also wrote a number of instrumental chamber works in which, as in his vocal works, he manipulates blocks of strong harmonies and repetitive melodies influenced by the contours of his native folk music. His use of elements of folk music and his attention to speech inflection mark him as a 20th-century counterpart of Mussorgsky. Although some influence of the French musical Impressionists appears in his later works, Janácek's style remained highly individual and original.

Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica

Last Updated on 18th August 2002
By Steven

And now for the Music

My thanks go to Gary Goldberg for Sequencing and donating the following file, to email please click on (GaryG@ix.netcom.com"">GARY and let him know your thoughts.

(2632)"The finale, The Death of Taras Bulba", Sequenced by Gary Goldberg. This a large file please click here for pkunzip

(1209)"Sinfonietta op.60 (1926)", Sequenced by Reinhold Behringer and modified slightly by Dr David Siu

(1210)"Sinfonietta:3. [The Queen's Convent]", a excellent Sequenced by Dr David Siu.

(1211)" Sinfonietta:4. [The Street]",Sequenced by Dr David Siu

(1219)"Sinfonietta: 2. [The Castle", Sequenced by Dr David Siu. This a large file please click here for pkunzip

(1220)"Sinfonietta:5. [The Town Hall]", Sequenced by Dr David Siu. This a large file please click here for pkunzip

(77a) Glagolitic Mass No.1 Intro, good Seq by ?

(78a) Glagolitic Mass No.7 Organ solo, Seq by ?

(79a) Glagolitic Mass No.8 Intrade, Seq by ?

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