The Czech and Slovak Music Society

Newsletter

Volume I, Number 2

Fall 1997

.

       How I Got to Be František Dusek and Other Tales of

                               Mostly Mozart in Prague. . .

. . . Sometime last year I was contacted by the Programming Department at Lincoln Center and asked if I would like to help them to prepare a series of concerts for their Mostly Mozart Festival. The theme would be Mozart and Prague, the idea would be to have music by Mozart and his Czech contemporaries, and perhaps capitalize on the popularity of the Czech capital. I began working on the project, collecting scores, contacting some artists and making plans for the event.

I suggested to Jane Moss and Hanako Yamaguchi of Lincoln Center that we turn the whole thing into a kind of Summer Garden event. I thought we might even build a set featuring the Villa Bertramka in Tully Hall. My idea was this: Mozart's lesser Czech contemporaries (as opposed to his lesser German contemporaries such as Haydn...) are rarely heard. Putting them in the Museum of Western Music (i.e. a Regular Concert Program) and having them compete with the little Viennese genius seemed unsatisfactory. On the other hand, such works presented as part of an imaginary Garden Concert could produce a wonderful sense of enchantment. To make it even better we would have outdoor wind band concerts featuring pieces by Mozart, Stamic, and Mysliveček and maybe even hire some strolling folk musicians.

Before I could say... "but it was just an idea"..., set and lighting designers had been hired and a director for the show had been engaged. I did not find out about all this at once, or directly, but rather by fits and starts: a comment on E-mail, a note in the mail, a remark dropped during a phone conversation.

Several weeks before the opening I spoke to Hanako and asked about clothing. If this was to be a semi-staged event, with a set, it would be a pity to have everyone wearing wildly different outfits. Oh, she said, I thought we would keep it to black tie since that would be in keeping with the general autumnal feel of the thing. It took a while for it to sink in. Autumnal? I said, what do you mean. Oh, she replied, we found a beautiful picture of Bertramka in the Fall, and thought we could blow it up to a huge size and then make trees, falling leaves and all that stuff. I thought deeply about this in the next few days after the conversation. Here was a summer festival presenting that most unlikely of things, an autumn garden concert. Did musicians ever play outside in the Fall? Did they wear scarves and gloves. I made several calls, but to no avail. The set had been built and that was that. It was someone else's concept now.

What to do, though? No one wants to look like an idiot in front of a large audience. How to explain the knuckleheaded outcome? A solution was called for! Well, as everyone knows, Mozart's second visit to Prague, for the premiere of Don Giovanni took place in September 1787 and lasted for several months. Why not have the concert take place at the end of October 1787. Mozart could be upstairs working on the Don, while his Czech colleagues have a grand time amongst the falling leaves.

It all seemed to work, and surprisingly, hardly anyone asked the inevitable question (What?... are you nuts having an Autumn concert during a summer Festival??). The director arrived and the next thing I knew, I was Mozart's host, František Dusek, the pianist Christopher O'Riley became Koželuh, and the singer, Dominique Labelle was impersonating Josefina Dusková. Musicians were told to make graceful exits before, during and after pieces, and the lighting was adjusted to create the illusion of a passage from late afternoon, through dusk to moonlight. The program ended, after the rousing Mysliveček Nocturnes with a whisper of folk music supplied by the brilliant duo, Martin and Pepík of Plzeň.

The crowd loved it! Okay, the critics sort of hated it. The New York Times sneered at the music and the concept, calling the latter "Let's Pretend" and the former derivative and pedestrian (with the exception of the Mysliveček). In short, business as usual. The New Amsterdam News had good things to say, calling it brilliant, but artists who have tried to make a living shopping around reviews from the New Amsterdam News usually find themselves playing on light rail systems.

The above is, of course, the view of a participant and organizer, and is therefore not to be trusted, but here are a couple of things which really did happen.

1. Something Borrowed, Something New. The audience, or a large part of it, was enchanted with the music and the proceedings. We did something new, and though there is much room for expansion and amplification, it worked. Lincoln Center especially is to be commended for taking such a bold risk on concept and repertoire.

2. The Hard Core Freelancers Shed Tears. A bunch of typical New York freelancers (in short, cynical and jaded) came in making fun of the composers, their names, and the whole concept and after a few hours of rehearsals were thrilled with all of it. The oboeist, Alan Vogel, did a wonderful job with the Fiala Oboe Quartet, and the performance of the Mysliveček Nocturnes was splendid.

3. A Folk Intrusion in the Garden. In an attempt to bring together different cultural layers, we invited Martin and Pepík to join the show. They are musicians, both now in Plzeň, who several years ago dedicated themselves to the exploration of improvised 18th century techniques. They appeared in the middle of the garden party and played several of the tunes Mozart supposedly wrote for vernacular musicians while in Prague.

4. I Hate It When They Cut Fish in Public! Actually, one of the reasons I took such great pleasure in organizing the event was to present Ryba's great quartet to the New York public. This is a wonderful piece, written around 1800. It sounds like late Beethoven. The opening movement is heavily chromatic, a kind of secular requiem. What makes the piece so fascinating is that after this heavy dramatic opening, Ryba reverts to form for the second movement, writing the pastoral of pastorals, a quartet movement by Papageno. I had to miss the rehearsal of the Pražák quartet and did not get to hear the piece until the performance. As I was listening, I suddenly had the feeling that something had gone wrong with my brain, that I'd fallen asleep or something, because the first movement was suddenly over. Robert Winter, who'd been sharing the podium with me for pre-performance lectures, was sitting right next to me. Did I just fall asleep? I asked him. You were awake the whole time, he responded. When the musicians came off the stage I asked the first violinist, "What happened to the first movement?" He shrugged, "Oh, well, we made a cut. It's necessary for balance." Here is this tiny quartet in its only New York performance, probably ever, and cuts were being made for balance!!

Despite such things, and despite our autumnal summer festival, Lincoln Center was so pleased that next year they want to do something like Mozart and Salzburg. The Czech Lands are definitely out of the picture for a while, but if the show keeps going on, look forward to Mozart and Olomouc in the years to follow.

-Mike Beckerman

 Note: The full program for Lincoln Center's presentation of Mozart in Prague may be accessed at http://www.mostlymozart.org/prague.html.


NEWS....

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and the City of Prague, The Zdeněk Fibich Society, as a member of the Czech Music Society, is preparing to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth and centenary of his death in 2000 with an ambitious series of programs. The preliminary plan is as follows:


        - Establish the Honorary and Executive committees in 1997


        - One-day seminar for organizers and teachers in Prague (Autumn 1997)
        - Concert performances of melodrama with prominent actors and pianists in the
           1998/99 season
        - Preparation of master classes and workshops for the national competition to be
           held in 1998
        - National competition to be held in Prague in 1999
        - International competition to be held in Prague in 2000


        - Preparation of the permanent Fibich exhibition in Prague
        - Exhibition of Fibich manuscripts in connection with the Fibich festival (Prague
           2000)
        - Preparation of a foreign travelling exhibition and related activities, including
           concerts, lectures and other events in cooperation with Czech music societies and
           Czech culture centers overseas


        - Publication of the catalog of Fibich's works (Vladimír Hudec)
        - Publication of a new revised monograph on Fibich (Jaroslav Jiránek)
        - Publication of brochures such as Zdeněk Fibich, Master of Scenic Melodrama
           (Věra Šustíková) in Czech, German and other languages
        - Publication of the papers of the musicological conference to be held in 2000
        - Occasional publications of smaller papers on single events and subjects


        - Establishment of a Zdeněk Fibich Memorial Hall
        - Placing of memorial plaque on the site of Fibich's house in Prague
        - Placing of bust of Fibich by Pichl in the proposed Fibich Hall
        - Improvement of the environs of Fibich's birthplace with a small memorial exhibition
           at Všebořice
        - Memorial gathering at the grave of Fibich in connection with the annual gathering at
           the graves of Smetana and Dvořák at the opening of the Prague Spring Festival
Preparation of the Fibich Information Center
        - This center will also contain copies and original documents relating to the
           composer, a Fibich database (to be constructed) and the archives of the Zdeněk
           Fibich Society


        - The Zdeněk Fibich Society will occasionally issue the committee's informational
           bulletin concerning the progress of these events and activities.

Note: Additional information regarding the progress of these events will appear in future issues of this newsletter.

(Submitted by Jaroslav Jiránek, Prague)


The English music publisher Metier Sound and Vision, sponsored by Jardin Holdings Ltd. of the UK, is to record and publish a series of (initially) four CD's under the heading Prague Jazz. These will include Prague jazz artists such as trombonist S. Kosvanec, mainstream quintet Fresh Uncles, the Robert Balzar trio, Jan Najponk Knop, Petr Kořínek, Yvonne Sanchez and others. This project is largely dependent on the sponsorship of art funding charities, companies and individuals.

Any potential sponsors please contact: Paul Vlček, P.O. Box 33, Vlašská 12, 118 01 Praha 1, Czech Republic. Tel./fax +420-2-573 10 524; E-mail: paulvlk@msn.com

(Submitted by Paul Vlček)


The Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU [Společnosti pro vědy a umění]) held its conference entitled "Czech-Americans in Transition: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future" on July 12 and 13 in Belton, Texas in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas (one of the oldest Czech-American organizations in the United States). "...educators, historians, social scientists, librarians, and other scholars joined with business people and community leaders to discuss key issues facing Czech- and Slovak-Americans today: the preservation of language, folklore and folk art; ethnic history and genealogy; fraternal and cultural activities; and the establishment and maintenance of archives, libraries, and cultural centers."

(Source: Zprávy SVU, Vol. XXXIX, No. 5, September-October 1997)


The Circulation of Music and Musicians in Bohemia and Moravia, 1600-1900: The State of the Sources and the Current Literature, Olomouc, November 1997

Olomouc - Praha, August 25, 1997

Dear Madam or Sir:

I would like to inform you about the current state of the preparations for the conference "Musical Institutions and the Circulation of Music and Musicians in Bohemia and Moravia, 1600-1900 - the State of the Sources and the Current Literature." If you plan to participate with a presentation and your name and topic are not indicated in the following provisional programme, please be so kind as to let us know immediately.

Sincerely,

Doc. PhDr. Jan Vičar

CSc. Head of the Department of Musicology

e-mail: E.Slavičková@risc.upol.cz

 

***


 

CZECH MUSIC COUNCIL
Department of Musicology of the Philosophical Faculty
of the Palacký University in Olomouc
Institute for Musicology of the
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
***
CONFERENCE
***

Musical Institutions and the Circulations of Music and Musicians in Bohemia and Moravia, 1600-1900 - the State of the Sources and the Current Literature

Organized in terms of the international scientific programme of the European Science Foundation, Musical Life in Europe, 1600-1900, Circulation, Institutions, Representation

Olomouc, Museum of Art, Denisova 47

November 21-23, 1997

*      *      *      *      *

The conference will deal with national and regional manifestations within five subject areas:

Italian Opera in Central Europe, 1614 - c. 1780
Opera Orchestras in 18th- and 19th-Century Europe
The Concert and Its Public in Europe, 1700-1900
The Circulation of Music: From Elite to Mass Production
National Representation of Music: Conservatoires, Musical Discourse, 1770-1990

Provisional program, in alphabetic order, with provisional definition of the subjects of papers:
 


Opening of the Conference:
Musical Life in Europe, 1600-1900 - the Czech lands, a proposal for new research


Musical Life in Europe, 1600-1900, Circulation, Institutions, Representation.
Proposal for a new scientific programme in the Humanities of the European Science
Foundation

Papers:


The necessity of constructing a biography of the Piarist Order in Bohemia, Moravia
and Silesia; the possibilities of using it for the history of music


A typology of concert events and their organizers in Brno, 1860-1900


Arrangements of Mozart's works for chamber brass and wind ensembles in the
Czech lands in the 18th and 19th centuries


The state of Czech literature (master's theses) on the problems of the circulation of
music in the Czech lands in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries


The German Province of the Hospitallers of St. John of God as a musical institution
and centre for the circulation of music and musicians in the Czech lands and central
Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries


Exchanges of music and musicians between Prague and Copenhagen in the 18th and
19th centuries


The Olomouc "musikverein"and its influence on Olomouc musical culture in the 19th
century


The origins of the Prague Conservatory


The Carissimi oratorios in the Kroměříž archive and their transmission from Italy to
Moravia


The circulation of music and musicians in Evangelical churches in the 17th century in
Slovakia


From Prague to the northern border of the Empire. Routes taken by musicians and
their repertoire in the second half of the 18th century


Music in aesthetic compendia in the first half of the 19th century in Bratislava


Czech Baroque music in the Tyrol


Arias by Italian composers from the first half of the 18th century in the musical
collection of the Cistercian monastery in Osek near Duchnov


Composition for double choirs in Bohemia at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries:
the state of the manuscripts and printed sources and the problems of the transmission
of double-choir singing


The copyists of sacred manuscript music in Moravia, 1750-1800


Performances of opera and operetta by the Brno National Theatre in the Národní
dům in Ostrava between 1894 and 1907


F.X. Richter and his composition treatise


The dissemination of Gluck's works in the Czech lands in the 18th and 19th centuries


Gottfried Finger of Olomouc and his musical journey to Europe and to England


The circulation of musicians in Moravia - The state of the sources concerning the
circulation of music in Moravia in the 17th and 18th centuries and their value as
evidence


Military bands in the second half of the 19th century in Moravia, especially in
Olomouc


The state of foreign-language literature on the problems of the circulation of music in
the Czech lands in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries


to be announced


Nationalism and chauvinism in reflections of the work of Richard Wagner in Czech
music criticism before 1885

The Czech and English versions of this conference notice may be accessed at http://www.sun.rhbnc.ac.uk/Music/Conferences/97-b-cir.html

(Submitted by: Geoffrey Chew, Music Department, Royal Holloway College (University of London))


Dvořák Celebration - New York (September 12 - 14, 1997)

click here


BIBLIOGRAPHY (a work in progress)

Click here to access a cumulative bibliography of recently published works, works in progress, notices of courses and lectures, or other sources that scholars have found helpful in their research on Czech and Slovak music.

The bibliography is divided into categories for books and scores; articles; lectures; and courses, seminars, and workshops. The list is further subdivided by composer, historical period, etc. New additions to the bibliography will be indicated with an asterisk (*). Although the newsletter is published only on a quarterly basis, additions to the bibliography will be made more frequently (i.e. as soon as the information is received).

The bibliography may be accessed directly at http://uweb.ucsb.edu/~jpearl/csms/csmsbiblio.htmll.

Suggestions for other works, lectures, courses, etc. to be added are welcome. Please send your contributions to jamabary@msn.com.


SPOTLIGHT ON . . .


PERFORMANCES -

NÁRODNÍ DIVADLO

(includes the National, Estates [Stavovské], Kolowrat and State Opera theaters)

BRNO NATIONAL THEATRE


CZECH OPERA

·  Dallas Opera (Dallas, Texas) Kát'a Kabanová, Jan. 9,11,14,17 (1998)

·  Metropolitan Opera (New York) The Makropulos Case, April 11,13,16,18 (1998)

·  Opera Theatre (St. Louis, Missouri) Kát'a Kabanová, June 16,18,20,24,26 (1998)

·  Sarasota Opera (Sarasota, Florida) Jenůfa, March 7,10,12,15,18,21 (1998)

·  Deutsche Oper Berlin, Kát'a Kabanová, April 29, May 15 (1998)

·  Opera Australia (Sydney) The Cunning Little Vixen, Oct.3,7,10,14,16,18,20,23,25,31
        (1997), Jenůfa, July 2,4,8,11,16,18,22,25 (1998)

·  Opera North (Northern England) Julietta (Martinů), Oct. 3,9,14,16,18,24,30, Nov. 6 (1997)

·  Opernhaus Zurich, Jenůfa, April 4,9,17,22,25,30, May 3, July 3 (1998)

·  Staatsoper Dresden, The Bartered Bride, Oct. 12 (1997),
       Jenůfa, May 3,9,14,17, July 4,7,11,14 (1998)

·  Performances at the National and State Theaters in Prague have not been included but may
        be accessed under Národní divadlo above.

(Dates compiled from the September 1997 issue of Opera News, a publication of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York)


THE LISTENING CORNER

Porta Coeli - (Pictures from the History of Czech and Slovak Religious Music)

Porta Coeli by a leading Prague jazz bass player Petr Kořínek was composed as a cycle of eight "tone pictures" depicting the history of religious and church music in the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The three quintessential parts of Christian influence that played a part in medieval Central Europe meet in this work for great emotional and artistic effect. Contrasting forms of Western Latin liturgy and the Slavonic forms of Christianity introduced to the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th century A.D. by St. Cyril and St. Methodius as well as those of Eastern Orthodoxy are the major influences propelling the composer through this cycle of compositions.

The Czech spiritual chant "Lord Have Mercy" with its roots in Eastern Orthodoxy is featured here in the composition Sázava. Two other works featured on this CD that developed from Czech chants are Porta Coeli and Bethlehem Chapel. Latin Gregorian chants are featured in Břevnov Monastery. Similarly Gregorian chant is an underlying theme in the composer's musical journey to Slovakia in the track called The Chapter of Spiš. The three concluding tracks, Přibina's Sacellum, St. Benedict of the Hron and Laugaricio, explore the undercurrent of the Reformation as well as the country's internal strife amid competing political and religious pressures from Hungary, Turkey and Poland.

Performed by the Prague Jazz Quintet consisting of leading Prague jazz musicians, the resultant music is an extraordinary fusion of sensitive composition and brilliant jazz improvisation and performance. All in all this work combines a rather rare quality of haunting beauty with an unquestionable commitment to a Christian religious theme. An added bonus (if ever this collection needed one) is the inclusion of Svatopluk Kosvánec in the line up of the Prague Jazz Quintet. Kosvánec, a world-class jazz trombone player, brings to bear his gentle giant power on the quintet's performance and characteristic for his playing, explores the outer reaches of harmony as well as the full extent of the instrument's capabilities.

This year's release of Porta Coeli probably escaped the attention of most reviewers as it has been promoted and subsidized predominantly by the composer himself and by the performing musicians. As is true of most recordings funded in this way, the album has not passed through the marketing or PR departments of recording companies and so far, regretfully, remains largely unknown. The writer of this note has obtained a copy of the album from the author himself and is at present not aware if and from where further copies may be available. However, those interested in obtaining this CD may wish to contact the writer at the e-mail or postal address below. Such inquiries will be redirected to a supplier, which no doubt, exists somewhere in Prague.

Paul Vlček, PO Box 33, Vlašská 12, 118-01 Praha 1, Czech Republic
e-mail: paulvlk@msn.com

(Submitted by Paul Vlček)


THE CZECH AND SLOVAK MUSIC SOCIETY needs your membership.

The homepage for The Czech and Slovak Music Society sets forth the aims of the Society as dedicated to the serious study and greater understanding of the music of the present-day Czech and Slovak Republics, embracing all types of music, from the 19th-century Czech nationalist traditions to the folk music of the Slovak Republic, from 17th-century liturgical music to Ježek's "Bugatti-Step" and all areas between. The Society hopes to provide a venue in which serious lovers of these musics can pose questions, share ideas, and generate discussions about the various aspects of the region's music and other areas of cultural history as well as current events and endeavors. The Czech and Slovak Music Society E-mail Discussion List provides an opportunity to communicate about such issues of mutual interest and keep in touch with other subscribers. The Society's quarterly newsletter contains additional information about Czech and Slovak music, conferences, educational opportunities, the accomplishments and activities of current members, performances, new recordings, feature articles, etc.

As successful as the webpages and the e-mail discussion list have been in the past few months, we have very few members who qualify as dues-paying. In addition to helping defray the costs of maintaining the Society, contributions are made from membership dues, as funds become available, to causes which advance Czech and Slovak music in some way. The most recent contribution, in the amount of $1,000.00, was made to subsidize the publication of Vol. 7 of the Dvořák Korespondence a dokumenty.

·  The financial report for the third quarter (1997) is as follows:

$1,072.81 Opening balance
<1,000.00> Contributions (Dvořák volume)
$25.00 New Members
$97.81 Closing balance (9/30/97)

As you can see, the closing balance leaves little room for an appreciable contribution to any additional causes.

Annual membership dues for the society are $25. ($10. for students). If you would like to become a member of the Society, send your name, mailing address, e-mail address and a sentence or two indicating the areas of Czech and/or Slovak music in which you are interested or have worked, along with your annual dues payment, to Judith Mabary, 1435 Ramona Lane, St. Charles, Missouri 63304 USA, who will be receiving dues until a new treasurer is elected.
(3/28/98:  This information has now been updated.  For membership dues information now in effect, see the Membership homepage:
                                 http://uweb.ucsb.edu/~jpearl/csms/csmsmemb.html.)

As a member, you will automatically be subscribed to the e-mail discussion list. In addition, your name will appear on the on-line membership lists for both groups unless you request otherwise.

In addition to the e-mail discussion list, the Czech and Slovak Music Society maintains a homepage, and publishes this on-line newsletter on a quarterly basis. The Society convenes each year to discuss matters of interest to its members at the American Musicological Society annual meeting.

If you would like to subscribe to the discussion list, please refer to instructions on the Society homepage.


Just for fun... Test your CZSL Musical (etc.?) Q...............

Only O's:

Who wrote the opera Poupě (1911)?

Who became director of the ballet ensemble at the Brno National Theatre in 1961?

What is the name of the orchestral work by Smetana that fits this category?

A folkdance in 2/4; appears in Smetana's České tance.

Answers will appear in the Winter issue.
*********

Answers to questions contained in the Summer issue (Vol. I, no. 1):

Who was Carl Richter.....really? Anežka Schulzová. [Schulzová wrote Zdenko Fibich: eine musikalische silhouette (published in Prague, 1900) under the pseudonym of Carl Richter.]

What was the name of the ship that brought Charlotte and Bohuslav Martinů to America? The Exeter

Which Czech composer wrote a work called "The American Flag"? Dvořák, of course. Now wasn't that easy!

Which of Smetana's operas contains a "letter-reading'' scene? How does the vocal delivery of the scene differ from the rest of the opera? Dvě vdovy. The text is spoken.


Other Links

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On-Line Bibliography
Czech and Slovak Music Society Homepage
Czech and Slovak Music Society Membership List

If you have comments or suggestions, contact Judith Mabary at jamabary@msn.com



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