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Janacek's Operas

Janacek's Operas: A Documentary Account

John Tyrrell
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 436
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  • Book Info
    Janacek's Operas
    Book Description:

    One of the most original and engaging composers of the twentieth century, Leos JanáÃ"çek is now regarded as one of its major musical dramatists. His operas have become a regular part of the repertory, but a full understanding of their diverse subjects and backgrounds has been hampered by the lack of source materials in English. John Tyrrell has here selected and translated the chief literary documents relating to the genesis and early performances of each of the composer's nine operas and presented them in the form of a compelling documentary narrative. JanáÃ"çek was a vigorous letter-writer and kept every letter he received. A vast quantity of material on his life has survived, providing a unique insight into his working methods and attitudes toward his operas. Scrupulously translated and annotated, the sources in this volume have not previously been brought together in this way. Some have appeared in scattered and often inaccessible publications in Czech, and others, such as the sequence of daily letters that JanáÃ"çek wrote to his wife during the rehearsals for the Prague premiere of Jenufa, or his instructions to his librettist for Fate, have never been published before. The book is complemented by a chronology of JanáÃ"çek's operas keyed to the numbered documents in each chapter, a bibliography, and a list of sources. Drawing on twenty-five years of work at the JanáÃ"çek archive in Brno, this work is a classic of music documentary scholarship.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6301-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Notes for the Reader
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  6. Map
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  7. Chronology of Janáček’s Life and Works
    (pp. xix-xxvi)
  8. 1 Šárka
    (pp. 1-20)

    In the revolt of the women against men’s rule recorded in Czech mythic history, Šárka was the boldest and most zealous of the women warriors. Her chief opponent was the young hero Ctirad, whom she tricked into an ambush. She let him find her tied to a tree in the forest, seemingly defenceless and rejected by the women. As he untied her he fell in love with her. She disarmed him and then summoned her warriors hiding nearby to finish him off. However, she had fallen in love with him and in remorse ended her own life.

    The name of...

  9. 2 The Beginning of a Romance
    (pp. 21-40)

    The landscape is a fir plantation (see Plate I). In the foreground there are tree stumps and piles of split logs. In the middle of the picture there is a coach and four horses. The driver is a rather raffish figure with a monocle, a high, narrow-brimmed hat and a pointed moustache. He is standing, holding the reins and a long whip. There are two other men in the carriage. An older gentleman is sitting in the back, a rather comfortable figure with whiskers, top hat and full coat. A youngish man with glasses, wearing an overcoat and a round...

  10. 3 Jenůfa
    (pp. 41-107)

    The material ofHer Stepdaughter¹ is composed of two real-life incidents, though much idealized! In the first a lad wounded a girl, his brother’s sweetheart, while slicing cabbage. He wounded her in the face deliberately because he loved her himself. In the second a woman helped her stepdaughter get rid of the fruits of her love (the girl threw the baby into the sewer), but I did not want to have two murderesses. Jenůfa falls through love, but she has enough goodwill and strength to live a better life.

    Pražské noviny(30 November 1890)

    Gabriela Preissová, who had made a...

  11. 4 Fate
    (pp. 108-160)

    After Olga’s death and the Prague refusal ofJenůfa[the master] went for a cure to Luhačovice. He was sitting there at a table alone, sad and ailing, when suddenly an unknown beautiful woman sent him a bouquet of crimson roses. He went to thank her, and so they got acquainted. This was Mrs Kamila Urválková, whose husband was a forestry official in Zahájí u Dolních Kralovic in Bohemia. She was in Luhačovice for heart treatment. Mrs Urválková had a strange penchant: she always carried three roses in her hand. She told the master about her life, and that she...

  12. 5 The Excursions of Mr Brouček
    (pp. 161-247)

    Finally it ought to be added that everything simply teemed with endless caryatids, sphinxes, winged lions, griffins, statues, monstrous gargoyles, bosses, fantastic vases, weather-cocks, so that colourfully shining frescoes covered every inch of plaster, and that the whole of this Babylon appeared to vibrate madly with the sounds of unheard music. You might even think that the town itself was one colossal musical instrument.

    The solemn tones of the organ resounded, gigantic bells tolled, here from a balcony the strains of a lute, there from a window a flute pined, elsewhere castanets clacked and a tambourine jingled; again elsewhere a...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. 6 Káťa Kabanová
    (pp. 248-281)

    Brno, 12 January 1919

    […] There will be no more cold spells this year. Primroses are flowering now for the third time this winter. The days are getting longer again and with them the joys of life. I’ve put my first opera in order, written thirty-one years ago. Now I have nothing to do – until something occurs to me again. […]

    After the acceptance ofJenůfaby Kovařovic in 1916, Janáček had been systematically looking through and revising his other operas.Brouček, still then a single ‘Excursion’, was first in line. By the end of 1917 he had finished...

  15. 7 The Cunning Little Vixen
    (pp. 282-303)

    The morning edition ofLidové novinywas brought to us by delivery boys, I’d go to a news stall for the afternoon one. WhenBystrouška¹ was coming out I’d open the paper first thing on the way home to see if there was another instalment; and if there was I’d rush home and read it quickly before giving it to the master, who anyway was working and got round to newspapers only in the evening. I was reading it like this once – it was when there was a picture of Bystrouška [the Vixen] going hand in hand with Zlatohřbítek...

  16. 8 The Makropulos Affair
    (pp. 304-325)

    Hukvaldy, 28 December 1922

    […] They have now been givingMakropulosin Prague. A woman 337 years old, but at the same time still young and beautiful. Would you like to be like that too?

    And you know that she was unhappy? We are happy because we know that our life isn’t long. So it’s necessary to make use of every moment, to use it properly. It’s all hurry in our life – and longing.

    The latter is my lot. That woman – the 337-year-old beauty [–] didn’t have a heart any more.

    That’s bad. […]

    Janáček saw Karel...

  17. 9 From the House of the Dead
    (pp. 326-342)

    Brno, 3 December 1926

    […] You know,Šárka – Jenůfa – Káťa – Brouček – The Vixen – Makropulos.

    Well, I had to doMakropulos.

    I stuck my nose into everything.

    All I want now is to come across a free libretto; so as not to be limited, bound; from a rather different world – in short, I don’t know yet myself: whether it will be gouged in the earth – or in some sort of spiritual sphere. […]

    Janáček was writing to give Brod notice of the Brno première ofThe Makropulos Affair, and found himself surveying his operatic...

  18. Epilogue
    (pp. 343-343)

    It’s said that at the dress rehearsal, when they’d got to the end of Act 3, with the Forester dreaming of the young Bystrouška and, instead of her, catching the little Frog, who sings to him: ‘It’s not me! That was granddad. They told me all about you,’ the master wept and said to the producer Zítek standing next to him: ‘You must play this when I die.’

    Stejskalová’s reminiscences (1959)

    A painful, unforgettable moment occurred. It was half-past ten, and from the orchestra, placed on the other side of the foyer, behind the coffin, was heard the music from...

  19. Chronologies of Janáček’s Operas
    (pp. 344-358)
  20. Glossary of Names and Terms
    (pp. 359-366)
  21. List of Sources
    (pp. 367-377)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 378-388)
  23. General Index
    (pp. 389-398)
  24. Index of Janáček’s works
    (pp. 399-405)