LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek (Czech pronunciation: [ËlÉoÊ ËjanaËtÍ¡ÊÉk], baptised Leo Eugen JanÃ¡Äek; 3 July 1854 â" 12 August 1928) was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. He was inspired by Moravian and other Slavic folk music to create an original, modern musical style.
Until 1895 he devoted himself mainly to folkloristic research and his early musical output was influenced by contemporaries such as AntonÃn DvoÅÃ¡k. His later, mature works incorporate his earlier studies of national folk music in a modern, highly original synthesis, first evident in the opera JenÅ¯fa, which was premiered in 1904 in Brno. The success of JenÅ¯fa (often called the "Moravian national opera") at Prague in 1916 gave JanÃ¡Äek access to the world's great opera stages. JanÃ¡Äek's later works are his most celebrated. They include operas such as KÃ¡Å¥a KabanovÃ¡ and The Cunning Little Vixen, the Sinfonietta, the Glagolitic Mass, the rhapsody Taras Bulba, two string quartets, and other chamber works. Along with AntonÃn DvoÅÃ¡k and BedÅich Smetana, he is considered one of the most important Czech composers.
LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek, son of schoolmaster JiÅÃ (1815â"1866) and Amalie (nÃ©e GrulichovÃ¡) JanÃ¡ÄkovÃ¡ (1819â"1884), was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire). He was a gifted child in a family of limited means, and showed an early musical talent in choral singing. His father wanted him to follow the family tradition, and become a teacher, but deferred to JanÃ¡Äek's obvious musical abilities. In 1865 young JanÃ¡Äek enrolled as a ward of the foundation of the Abbey of St. Thomas in Brno, where he took part in choral singing under Pavel KÅÃÅ¾kovskÃ½ and occasionally played the organ. One of his classmates, FrantiÅ¡ek Neumann, later described JanÃ¡Äek as an "excellent pianist, who played Beethoven symphonies perfectly in a piano duet with a classmate, under KÅÃÅ¾kovskÃ½'s supervision". KÅÃÅ¾kovskÃ½ found him a problematic and wayward student but recommended his entry to the Prague Organ School. JanÃ¡Äek later remembered KÅÃÅ¾kovskÃ½ as a great conductor and teacher.
JanÃ¡Äek originally intended to study piano and organ but eventually devoted himself to composition. He wrote his first vocal compositions while choirmaster of the Svatopluk Artisan's Association (1873â"76). In 1874 he enrolled at the Prague organ school, under FrantiÅ¡ek SkuherskÃ½ and FrantiÅ¡ek BlaÅ¾ek. His student days in Prague were impoverished; with no piano in his room, he had to make do with a keyboard drawn on his tabletop. His criticism of SkuherskÃ½'s performance of the Gregorian mass was published in the March 1875 edition of the journal Cecilie and led to his expulsion from the school â" but SkuherskÃ½ relented, and on 24 July 1875 JanÃ¡Äek graduated with the best results in his class. On his return to Brno he earned a living as a music teacher, and conducted various amateur choirs. From 1876 he taught music at Brno's Teachers Institute. Among his pupils there was Zdenka SchulzovÃ¡, daughter of Emilian Schulz, the Institute director. She was later to be JanÃ¡Äek's wife. In 1876 he also became a piano student of AmÃ¡lie WickenhauserovÃ¡-NerudovÃ¡, with whom he co-organized chamber concertos and performed in concerts over the next two years. In February 1876, he was voted choirmaster of the Beseda brnÄnskÃ¡ Philharmonic Society. Apart from an interruption from 1879 to 1881, he remained its choirmaster and conductor until 1888.
From October 1879 to February 1880 he studied piano, organ, and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. While there, he composed Thema con variazioni for piano in B flat, subtitled Zdenka's Variations. Dissatisfied with his teachers (among them Oscar Paul and Leo Grill), and denied a studentship with Camille Saint-SaÃ«ns in Paris, JanÃ¡Äek moved on to the Vienna Conservatory, where from April to June 1880 he studied composition with Franz Krenn. He concealed his opposition to Krenn's neo-romanticism, but he quit Josef Dachs's classes and further piano study when he was criticised for his piano style and technique. He submitted a violin sonata (now lost) to a Vienna Conservatory competition, but the judges rejected it as "too academic". JanÃ¡Äek left the conservatory in June 1880, disappointed despite Franz Krenn's very complimentary personal report. He returned to Brno where on 13 July 1881, he married his young pupil Zdenka SchulzovÃ¡.
In 1881, JanÃ¡Äek founded and was appointed director of the organ school, and held this post until 1919, when the school became the Brno Conservatory. In the mid-1880s JanÃ¡Äek began composing more systematically. Among other works, he created the Four male-voice choruses (1886), dedicated to AntonÃn DvoÅÃ¡k, and his first opera, Å Ã¡rka (1887â"88). During this period he began to collect and study folk music, songs and dances. In the early months of 1887 he sharply criticized the comic opera The Bridegrooms, by Czech composer Karel KovaÅovic, in a HudebnÃ listy journal review: "Which melody stuck in your mind? Which motif? Is this dramatic opera? No, I would write on the poster: 'Comedy performed together with music', since the music and the libretto aren't connected to each other". JanÃ¡Äek's review apparently led to mutual dislike and later professional difficulties when KovaÅovic, as director of the National Theatre in Prague, refused to stage JanÃ¡Äek's opera JenÅ¯fa.
From the early 1890s, JanÃ¡Äek led the mainstream of folklorist activity in Moravia and Silesia, using a repertoire of folksongs and dances in orchestral and piano arrangements. Most of his achievements in this field were published in 1899â"1901 though his interest in folklore would be lifelong. His compositional work was still influenced by the declamatory, dramatic style of Smetana and DvoÅÃ¡k. He expressed very negative opinions on German neo-classicism and especially on Wagner in the HudebnÃ listy journal, which he founded in 1884. The death of his second child, VladimÃr, in 1890 was followed by an attempted opera, Beginning of the Romance (1891) and the cantata Amarus (1897).
Later years and masterworks
In the first decade of the 20th century JanÃ¡Äek composed choral church music including OtÄenÃ¡Å¡ (Our Father, 1901), Constitutes (1903) and Ave Maria (1904). In 1901 the first part of his piano cycle On an Overgrown Path was published, and gradually became one of his most frequently performed works. In 1902 JanÃ¡Äek visited Russia twice. On the first occasion he took his daughter Olga to St.Petersburg, where she stayed to study Russian. Only three months later, he returned to St. Petersburg with his wife because Olga was very ill. They took her back to Brno, but her health was worsening. JanÃ¡Äek expressed his painful feelings for his daughter in a new work, his opera JenÅ¯fa, in which the suffering of his daughter became JenÅ¯fa's. When Olga died in February 1903, JanÃ¡Äek dedicated JenÅ¯fa to her memory. The opera was performed in Brno in 1904, with reasonable success, but JanÃ¡Äek felt this was no more than a provincial achievement. He aspired to recognition by the more influential Prague opera, but JenÅ¯fa was refused there (twelve years passed before its first performance in Prague). Dejected and emotionally exhausted, JanÃ¡Äek went to LuhaÄovice spa to recover. There he met Kamila UrvÃ¡lkovÃ¡, whose love story supplied the theme for his next opera, Osud (Destiny).
In 1905 JanÃ¡Äek attended a demonstration in support of a Czech university in Brno, where the violent death of FrantiÅ¡ek PavlÃk (a young joiner) at the hands of the police inspired his 1. X. 1905 piano sonata. The incident led him to further promote the anti-German and anti-Austrian ethos of the Russian Circle, which he had co-founded in 1897 and which would be officially banned by the Austrian police in 1915. In 1906 he approached the Czech poet Petr BezruÄ, with whom he later collaborated, composing several choral works based on BezruÄ's poetry. These included Kantor Halfar (1906), MaryÄka MagdÃ³nova (1908), and SedmdesÃ¡t tisÃc (1909). JanÃ¡Äek's life in the first decade of the 20th century was complicated by personal and professional difficulties. He still yearned for artistic recognition from Prague. He destroyed some of his works â" others remained unfinished. Nevertheless, he continued composing, and would create several remarkable choral, chamber, orchestral and operatic works, the most notable being the 1914 Cantata VÄÄnÃ© evangelium (The Eternal Gospel), PohÃ¡dka (Fairy tale) for cello and piano (1910), the 1912 piano cycle V mlhÃ¡ch (In the Mist) and his first symphonic poem Å umaÅovo dÃtÄ (A Fiddler's Child). His fifth opera, VÃ½let pana BrouÄka do mÄsÃce, composed from 1908 to 1917, has been characterized as the most "purely Czech in subject and treatment" of all of JanÃ¡Äek's operas.
In 1916 he started a long professional and personal relationship with theatre critic, dramatist and translator Max Brod. In the same year JenÅ¯fa, revised by KovaÅovic, was finally accepted by the National Theatre; its performance in Prague (1916) was a great success, and brought JanÃ¡Äek his first acclaim. He was 62. Following the Prague premiÃ¨re, he began a relationship with singer Gabriela HorvÃ¡thovÃ¡, which led to his wife Zdenka's attempted suicide and their "informal" divorce. A year later (1917) he met Kamila StÃ¶sslovÃ¡, a young married woman 38 years his junior, who was to inspire him for the remaining years of his life. He conducted an obsessive and (on his side at least) passionate correspondence with her, of nearly 730 letters. From 1917 to 1919, deeply inspired by StÃ¶sslovÃ¡, he composed The Diary of One Who Disappeared. As he completed its final revision, he began his next 'Kamila' work, the opera KÃ¡Å¥a KabanovÃ¡.
In 1920 JanÃ¡Äek retired from his post as director of the Brno Conservatory, but continued to teach until 1925. In 1921 he attended a lecture by the Indian philosopher-poet Rabindranath Tagore, and used a Tagore poem as the basis for the chorus The Wandering Madman (1922). At the same time he encountered the microtonal works of Alois HÃ¡ba. In the early 1920s JanÃ¡Äek completed his opera The Cunning Little Vixen, which had been inspired by a serialized novella in the newspaper LidovÃ© noviny.
In JanÃ¡Äek's 70th year (1924) his biography was published by Max Brod, and he was interviewed by Olin Downes for The New York Times. In 1925 he retired from teaching, but continued composing and was awarded the first honorary doctorate to be given by Masaryk University in Brno. In the spring of 1926 he created his Sinfonietta, a monumental orchestral work, which rapidly gained wide critical acclaim. In the same year he went to England at the invitation of Rosa Newmarch. A number of his works were performed in London, including his first string quartet, the wind sextet Youth, and his violin sonata. Shortly after, and still in 1926, he started to compose a setting to an Old Church Slavonic text. The result was the large-scale orchestral Glagolitic Mass. JanÃ¡Äek was an atheist, and critical of the organised Church, but religious themes appear frequently in his work. The Glagolitic Mass was partly inspired by the suggestion by a clerical friend, and partly by JanÃ¡Äek's wish to celebrate the anniversary of Czechoslovak independence.
In 1927 â" the year of the Sinfonietta's first performances in New York, Berlin and Brno â" he began to compose his final operatic work, From the House of the Dead, the third Act of which was found on his desk after his death. In January 1928 he began his second string quartet, the Intimate Letters, his "manifesto on love". Meanwhile, the Sinfonietta was performed in London, Vienna and Dresden. In his later years, JanÃ¡Äek became an international celebrity. He became a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1927, along with Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith. His operas and other works were finally performed at the world stages. In August 1928 he took an excursion to Å tramberk with Kamila StÃ¶sslovÃ¡ and her son Otto, but caught a chill, which developed into pneumonia. He died on 12 August 1928 in Ostrava, at the sanatorium of Dr. L. Klein. He was given a large public funeral that included music from the last scene of his Cunning Little Vixen, and was buried in the Field of Honour at the Central Cemetery, Brno.
JanÃ¡Äek worked tirelessly throughout his life. He led the organ school, was a Professor at the teachers institute and gymnasium in Brno, collected his "speech tunes" and was composing. From an early age he presented himself as an individualist and his firmly formulated opinions often led to conflict. He unhesitatingly criticized his teachers, who considered him a defiant and anti-authoritarian student. His own students found him strict and uncompromising. VilÃ©m TauskÃ½, one of his pupils, described his encounters with JanÃ¡Äek as somewhat distressing for someone unused to his personality, and noted that JanÃ¡Äek's characteristically staccato speech rhythms were reproduced in some of his operatic characters. In 1881, JanÃ¡Äek gave up his leading role with the Beseda brnÄnskÃ¡, as a response to criticism, but a rapid decline in Beseda's performance quality led to his recall in 1882.
His married life, settled and calm in its early years, became increasingly tense and difficult following the death of his daughter, Olga, in 1903. Years of effort in obscurity took their toll, and almost ended his ambitions as a composer: "I was beaten down", he wrote later, "My own students gave me advice â" how to compose, how to speak through the orchestra". Success in 1916 â" when Karel KovaÅovic finally decided to perform JenÅ¯fa in Prague â" brought its own problems. JanÃ¡Äek grudgingly resigned himself to the changes forced upon his work. Its success brought him into Prague's music scene and the attentions of soprano Gabriela HorvÃ¡tovÃ¡, who guided him through Prague society. JanÃ¡Äek was enchanted by her. On his return to Brno, he appears not to have concealed his new passion from Zdenka, who responded by attempting suicide. JanÃ¡Äek was furious with Zdenka and tried to instigate a divorce, but lost interest in HorvÃ¡tovÃ¡. Zdenka, anxious to avoid the public scandal of formal divorce, persuaded him to settle for an "informal" divorce. From then on, until JanÃ¡Äek's death, they lived separate lives in the same household.
In 1917 he began his lifelong, inspirational and unrequited passion for Kamila StÃ¶sslovÃ¡, who neither sought nor rejected his devotion. JanÃ¡Äek pleaded for first-name terms in their correspondence. In 1927 she finally agreed and signed herself "TvÃ¡ Kamila" (Your Kamila) in a letter, which Zdenka found. This revelation provoked a furious quarrel between Zdenka and JanÃ¡Äek, though their living arrangements did not change â" JanÃ¡Äek seems to have persuaded her to stay. In 1928, the year of his death, JanÃ¡Äek confessed his intention to publicise his feelings for StÃ¶sslovÃ¡. Max Brod had to dissuade him. JanÃ¡Äek's contemporaries and collaborators described him as mistrustful and reserved, but capable of obsessive passion for those he loved. His overwhelming passion for StÃ¶sslovÃ¡ was sincere but verged upon self-destruction. Their letters remain an important source for JanÃ¡Äek's artistic intentions and inspiration. His letters to his long-suffering wife are, by contrast, mundanely descriptive. Zdenka seems to have destroyed all hers to JanÃ¡Äek. Only a few postcards survive.
In 1874 JanÃ¡Äek became friends with AntonÃn DvoÅÃ¡k, and began composing in a relatively traditional romantic style. After his opera Å Ã¡rka (1887â"1888), his style absorbed elements of Moravian and Slovak folk music.
His musical assimilation of the rhythm, pitch contour and inflections of normal Czech speech (Moravian dialect) helped create the very distinctive vocal melodies of his opera JenÅ¯fa (1904), whose 1916 success in Prague was to be the turning point in his career. In JenÅ¯fa, JanÃ¡Äek developed and applied the concept of "speech tunes" to build a unique musical and dramatic style quite independent of "Wagnerian" dramatic method. He studied the circumstances in which "speech tunes" changed, the psychology and temperament of speakers and the coherence within speech, all of which helped render the dramatically truthful roles of his mature operas, and became one of the most significant markers of his style. JanÃ¡Äek took these stylistic principles much farther in his vocal writing than Modest Mussorgsky, and thus anticipates the later work of BÃ©la BartÃ³k. The stylistic basis for his later works originates in the period of 1904â"1918, but JanÃ¡Äek composed the majority of his output â" and his best known works â" in the last decade of his life.
Much of JanÃ¡Äek's work displays great originality and individuality. It employs a vastly expanded view of tonality, uses unorthodox chord spacings and structures, and often, modality: "there is no music without key. Atonality abolishes definite key, and thus tonal modulation....Folksong knows of no atonality." JanÃ¡Äek features accompaniment figures and patterns, with (according to Jim Samson) "the on-going movement of his music...similarly achieved by unorthodox means; often a discourse of short, 'unfinished' phrases comprising constant repetitions of short motifs which gather momentum in a cumulative manner." JanÃ¡Äek named these motifs "sÄasovka" in his theoretical works. "SÄasovka" has no strict English equivalent, but John Tyrrell, a leading specialist on JanÃ¡Äek's music, describes it as "a little flash of time, almost a kind of musical capsule, which JanÃ¡Äek often used in slow music as tiny swift motifs with remarkably characteristic rhythms that are supposed to pepper the musical flow." JanÃ¡Äek's use of these repeated motifs demonstrates a remote similarity to minimalist composers (Sir Charles Mackerras called JanÃ¡Äek "the first minimalist composer").
JanÃ¡Äek belongs to a wave of twentieth-century composers who sought greater realism and greater connection with everyday life, combined with a more all-encompassing use of musical resources. His operas in particular demonstrate the use of "speech"-derived melodic lines, folk and traditional material, and complex modal musical argument. JanÃ¡Äek's works are still regularly performed around the world, and are generally considered popular with audiences. He would also inspire later composers in his homeland, as well as music theorists, among them Jaroslav Volek, to place modal development alongside harmony of importance in music.
The operas of his mature period, JenÅ¯fa (1904), KÃ¡Å¥a KabanovÃ¡ (1921), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), The Makropulos Affair (1926) and From the House of the Dead (after a novel by Dostoyevsky and premiÃ¨red posthumously in 1930) are considered his finest works. The Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras became very closely associated with JanÃ¡Äek's operas.
JanÃ¡Äek's chamber music, while not especially voluminous, includes works which are widely considered twentieth-century classics, particularly his two string quartets: Quartet No. 1, "The Kreutzer Sonata" inspired by the Tolstoy novel, and the Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters". Milan Kundera called these compositions the peak of JanÃ¡Äek's output.
The world premiÃ¨re of JanÃ¡Äek's lyrical Concertino for piano, two violins, viola, clarinet, French horn and bassoon took place in Brno on 16 February 1926. It was also performed at the Frankfurt Festival of Modern Music in 1927 by Ilona Å tÄpÃ¡novÃ¡-KurzovÃ¡.
A comparable chamber work for an even more unusual set of instruments, the Capriccio for piano left hand, flute, two trumpets, three trombones and tenor tuba, was written for pianist Otakar Hollmann, who lost the use of his right hand during World War I. After its premiÃ¨re in Prague on 2 March 1928, the Capriccio gained considerable acclaim in the musical world.
Other well known pieces by JanÃ¡Äek include the Sinfonietta, the Glagolitic Mass (the text written in Old Church Slavonic), and the rhapsody Taras Bulba. These pieces and the above-mentioned five late operas were all written in the last decade of JanÃ¡Äek's life.
JanÃ¡Äek established a school of composition in Brno. Among his notable pupils were Jan Kunc, VÃ¡clav KaprÃ¡l, VilÃ©m PetrÅ¾elka, Jaroslav Kvapil, Osvald Chlubna, BÅetislav Bakala, and Pavel Haas. Most of his students neither imitated nor developed JanÃ¡Äek's style, which left him no direct stylistic descendants. According to Milan Kundera, JanÃ¡Äek developed a personal, modern style in relative isolation from contemporary modernist movements but was in close contact with developments in modern European music. His path towards the innovative "modernism" of his later years was long and solitary, and he achieved true individuation as a composer around his 50th year.
Sir Charles Mackerras, the Australian conductor who helped promote JanÃ¡Äek's works on the world's opera stages, described his style as "... completely new and original, different from anything else ... and impossible to pin down to any one style". According to Mackerras, JanÃ¡Äek's use of whole-tone scale differs from that of Debussy, his folk music inspiration is absolutely dissimilar from DvoÅÃ¡k's and Smetana's, and his characteristically complex rhythms differ from the techniques of the young Stravinsky.
The French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, who interpreted JanÃ¡Äek's operas and orchestral works, called his music surprisingly modern and fresh: "Its repetitive pulse varies through changes in rhythm, tone and direction." He described his opera From the House of the Dead as "primitive, in the best sense, but also extremely strong, like the paintings of LÃ©ger, where the rudimentary character allows a very vigorous kind of expression".
JanÃ¡Äek's life has featured in several films. In 1974 Eva Marie KaÅkovÃ¡ made a short documentary Fotograf a muzika (The Photographer and the Music) about the Czech photographer Josef Sudek and his relationship to JanÃ¡Äek's work. In 1983 the Brothers Quay produced a stop motion animated film, LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek: Intimate Excursions, about JanÃ¡Äek's life and work, and in 1986 the Czech director Jaromil JireÅ¡ made Lev s bÃlou hÅÃvou (Lion with the White Mane), which showed the amorous inspiration behind JanÃ¡Äek's works. In Search of JanÃ¡Äek is a Czech documentary directed in 2004 by Petr KaÅka, made to celebrate the 150th anniversary of JanÃ¡Äek's birth. An animated cartoon version of The Cunning Little Vixen was made in 2003 by the BBC, with music performed by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and conducted by Kent Nagano. A rearrangement of the opening of the Sinfonietta was used by the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer for the song "Knife-Edge" on their 1970 debut album.
The JanÃ¡Äek Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 1954. Today the 116-piece ensemble is associated with mostly contemporary music but also regularly performs works from the classical repertoire. The orchestra is resident at the House of Culture VÃtkovice (DÅ¯m kultury VÃtkovice) in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The orchestra tours extensively and has performed in Europe, the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Its current music director is Theodore Kuchar.
Czech musicology at the beginning of the 20th century was strongly influenced by Romanticism, in particular by the styles of Wagner and Smetana. Performance practises were conservative, and actively resistant to stylistic innovation. During his lifetime, JanÃ¡Äek reluctantly conceded to Karel KovaÅovic's instrumental rearrangement of JenÅ¯fa, most noticeably in the finale, in which KovaÅovic added a more 'festive' sound of trumpets and French horns, and doubled some instruments to support JanÃ¡Äek's "poor" instrumentation. The score of JenÅ¯fa was later restored by Charles Mackerras, and is now performed according to JanÃ¡Äek's original intentions.
Another important Czech musicologist, ZdenÄk NejedlÃ½, a great admirer of Smetana and later a communist Minister of Culture, condemned JanÃ¡Äek as an author who could accumulate a lot of material, but was unable to do anything with it. He called JanÃ¡Äek's style "unanimated", and his operatic duets "only speech melodies", without polyphonic strength. NejedlÃ½ considered JanÃ¡Äek rather an amateurish composer, whose music did not conform to the style of Smetana. According to Charles Mackerras, he tried to professionally destroy JanÃ¡Äek. Josef BartoÅ¡, the Czech aesthetician and music critic, called JanÃ¡Äek a "musical eccentric" who clung tenaciously to an imperfect, improvising style, but BartoÅ¡ appreciated some elements of JanÃ¡Äek's works and judged him more positively than NejedlÃ½.
JanÃ¡Äek's friend and collaborator VÃ¡clav Talich, former chief-conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, sometimes adjusted JanÃ¡Äek's scores, mainly for their instrumentation and dynamics; some critics sharply attacked him for doing so. Talich re-orchestrated Taras Bulba and the Suite from Cunning Little Vixen justifying the latter with the claim that "it was not possible to perform it in the Prague National Theatre unless it was entirely re-orchestrated". Talich's rearrangement rather emasculated the specific sounds and contrasts of JanÃ¡Äek's original, but was the standard version for many years. Charles Mackerras started to research JanÃ¡Äek's music in the 1960s, and gradually restored the composer's distinctive scoring. The critical edition of JanÃ¡Äek's scores is published by the Czech Editio JanÃ¡Äek.
JanÃ¡Äek's style draws on several sources.
JanÃ¡Äek was deeply influenced by folklore, and by Moravian folk music in particular, but not by the pervasive, idealized 19th century romantic folklore variant. He took a realistic, descriptive and analytic approach to the material. Moravian folk songs, compared with their Bohemian counterparts, are much freer and more irregular in their metrical and rhythmic structure, and more varied in their melodic intervals. In his study of Moravian modes, JanÃ¡Äek found that the peasant musicians did not know the names of the modes and had their own ways of referring to them. He considered their Moravian modulation, as he called it, a general characteristic of this region's folk music.
JanÃ¡Äek partly composed the original piano accompaniments to more than 150 folk songs, respectful of their original function and context, and partly used folk inspiration in his own works, especially in his mature compositions. His work in this area was not stylistically imitative; instead, he developed a new and original musical aesthetic based on a deep study of the fundamentals of folk music. Through his systematic notation of folk songs as he heard them, JanÃ¡Äek developed an exceptional sensitivity to the melodies and rhythms of speech, from which he compiled a collection of distinctive segments he called "speech tunes". He used these "essences" of spoken language in his vocal and instrumental works. The roots of his style, marked by the lilts of human speech, emerge from the world of folk music.
JanÃ¡Äek's deep and lifelong affection for Russia and Russian culture represents another important element of his musical inspiration. In 1888 he attended the Prague performance of Tchaikovsky's music, and met the older composer. JanÃ¡Äek profoundly admired Tchaikovsky, and particularly appreciated his highly developed musical thought in connection with the use of Russian folk motifs. JanÃ¡Äek's Russian inspiration is especially apparent in his later chamber, symphonic and operatic output. He closely followed developments in Russian music from his early years, and in 1896, following his first visit of Russia, he founded a Russian Circle in Brno. JanÃ¡Äek read Russian authors in their original language. Their literature offered him an enormous and reliable source of inspiration, though this did not blind him to the problems of Russian society. He was twenty-two years old when he wrote his first composition based on a Russian theme: a melodrama, Death, set to Lermontov's poem. In his later works, he often used literary models with sharply contoured plots. In 1910 Zhukovsky's Tale of Tsar Berendei inspired him to write the Fairy Tale for Cello and Piano. He composed the rhapsody Taras Bulba (1918) to Gogol's short story, and five years later, in 1923, completed his first string quartet, inspired by Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata. Two of his later operas were based on Russian themes: KÃ¡Å¥a KabanovÃ¡, composed in 1921 to Alexander Ostrovsky's play, The Storm: and his last work, From the House of the Dead, which transformed Dostoyevsky's vision of the world into an exciting collective drama.
JanÃ¡Äek always deeply admired AntonÃn DvoÅÃ¡k, to whom he dedicated some of his works. He rearranged part of DvoÅÃ¡k's Moravian Duets for mixed choir with original piano accompaniment. In the early years of the 20th century, JanÃ¡Äek became increasingly interested in the music of other European composers. His opera Destiny was a response to another significant and famous work in contemporary Bohemia â" Louise, by the French composer Gustave Charpentier. The influence of Giacomo Puccini is apparent particularly in JanÃ¡Äek's later works, for example in his opera KÃ¡Å¥a KabanovÃ¡. Although he carefully observed developments in European music, his operas remained firmly connected with Czech and Slavic themes.
JanÃ¡Äek created his music theory works, essays and articles over a period of fifty years, from 1877 to 1927. He wrote and edited the HudebnÃ listy journal, and contributed to many specialist music journals, such as CecÃlie, HlÃdka and Dalibor. He also completed several extensive studies, as ÃplnÃ¡ nauka o harmonii (The Complete Harmony Theory), O skladbÄ souzvukÅ¯v a jejich spojÅ¯v (On the Construction of Chords and Their Connections) and ZÃ¡klady hudebnÃho sÄasovÃ¡nÃ (Basics of Musical SÄasovÃ¡nÃ). In his essays and books, JanÃ¡Äek examined various musical topics, forms, melody and harmony theories, dyad and triad chords, counterpoint (or "opora", meaning "support") and devoted himself to the study of the mental composition. His theoretical works stress the Czech term "sÄasovÃ¡nÃ", JanÃ¡Äek's specific word for rhythm, which has relation to time ("Äas" in Czech), and the handling of time in music composition. He distinguished several types of rhythm (sÄasovka): "znÃcÃ" (sounding) â" meaning any rhythm, "ÄÃtacÃ" (counting) â" meaning smaller units measuring the course of rhythm; and "scelovacÃ" (summing) â" a long value comprising the length of a rhythmical unit. JanÃ¡Äek used the combination of their mutual action widely in his own works.
LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek's literary legacy represents an important illustration of his life, public work and art between 1875 and 1928. He contributed not only to music journals, but wrote essays, reports, reviews, feuilletons, articles and books. His work in this area comprises around 380 individual items. His writing changed over time, and appeared in many genres. Nevertheless, the critical and theoretical sphere remained his main area of interest.
Folk music research
JanÃ¡Äek came from a region characterized by its deeply rooted folk culture, which he explored as a young student under Pavel KÅÃÅ¾kovskÃ½. His meeting with the folklorist and dialectologist FrantiÅ¡ek BartoÅ¡ (1837â"1906) was decisive in his own development as a folklorist and composer, and led to their collaborative and systematic collections of folk songs. JanÃ¡Äek became an important collector in his own right, especially of Lachian, Moravian Slovakian, Moravian Wallachian and Slovakian songs. From 1879, his collections included transcribed speech intonations. He was one of the organizers of the Czech-Slavic Folklore Exhibition, an important event in Czech culture at the end of 19th century. From 1905 he was President of the newly instituted Working Committee for Czech National Folksong in Moravia and Silesia, a branch of the Austrian institute Das Volkslied in Ãsterreich (Folksong in Austria), which was established in 1902 by the Viennese publishing house Universal Edition. JanÃ¡Äek was a pioneer and propagator of ethnographic photography in Moravia and Silesia. In October 1909 he acquired an Edison phonograph and became one of the first to use phonographic recording as a folklore research tool. Several of these recording sessions have been preserved, and were reissued in 1998.
For the complete list see List of compositions by LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek.
LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek counts among the first opera composers who used prose for his libretti, not verse. He even wrote his own libretti to his last three operas. His libretti were translated into German by Max Brod.
The early orchestral works are influenced by Romantic style, and especially by orchestral works of DvoÅÃ¡k. In his later works, created after 1900, JanÃ¡Äek found his own, original expression.
Vocal and choral
JanÃ¡Äek's choral works, known particularly in the Czech Republic, are considered extremely demanding. He wrote several choruses to the words of Czech poet Petr BezruÄ.
Chamber and instrumental
His string quartets are at the core of 20th-century classical music repertoire. Much of his other notable chamber music is written for unconventional ensembles.
JanÃ¡Äek composed his major piano works in a relatively short period of twelve years, from 1901 to 1912. His early Thema con variazioni (subtitled Zdenka's variations) is a student work composed in the styles of famous composers.
JanÃ¡Äek in literature
JanÃ¡Äek is the central character in David Herter's First Republic trilogy, comprising the novels On the Overgrown Path, The Luminous Depths and One Who Disappeared.
JanÃ¡Äek's Sinfonietta is referenced a number of times in Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84.
- ZemanovÃ¡, Mirka (1989). JanÃ¡cek's Uncollected Essays on Music. Marion Boyars. ISBNÂ 0-71452-857-9.Â
- Simeone, Nigel; Tyrrell, John; NÄmcovÃ¡, Alena (1997). JanÃ¡Äek's works. A catalogue of the music and writings of LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBNÂ 978-0-19-816446-3.Â
- Tyrrell, John (2005). Intimate Letters: LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek to Kamila StÃ¶sslovÃ¡. London: Faber and Faber. ISBNÂ 978-0-571-22510-1.Â
- Tyrrell, John (ed.) (1998). My life with JanÃ¡Äek â" The Memoirs of Zdenka JanÃ¡ÄkovÃ¡. London.Â
- Tyrrell, John (1992). JanÃ¡Äek's operas â" A documentary account. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBNÂ 0-691-09148-X.Â
- Beckerman, Michael (ed.) (2003). JanÃ¡Äek and His World. New York: Princeton University Press. ISBNÂ 0-691-11676-8.Â
- Beckerman, Michael. Janacek as Theorist. Stuyvesant, New York: Pendragon Press. p.Â 1994. ISBNÂ 0-945193-03-3.Â
- Vogel, Jaroslav (1997). LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek: a biography. Prague: Academia. ISBNÂ 80-200-0622-2.Â
- Å tÄdroÅ, MiloÅ¡ (1998). LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek a hudba 20. stoletÃ. Brno: Nadace Universitas Masarykiana. ISBN 80-210-1917-4.
- TauskÃ½, VilÃ©m and Margaret (1982). LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek: Leaves from his Life. Kahn & Averill, London. ISBNÂ 1-871-08208-0.Â
- VainiomÃ¤ki, Tiina (2012). The Musical Realism of LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek: From Speech Melodies to a Theory of Composition. Acta Semiotica Fennica, 41. Suomen Semiotiikan Seura. ISBNÂ 978-952-5431-36-0. ISSNÂ 1235-497XDissertation. University of Helsinki.Â
- Free scores by LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek at the International Music Score Library Project
- A detailed site on LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek created by Gavin Plumley
- LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek on Find-A-Grave
- Leos JanÃ¡Äek at the Internet Movie Database
- LeoÅ¡ JanÃ¡Äek at Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music
- Two Faces of JanÃ¡Äek. A Review of My Life with JanÃ¡Äek: the Memoirs of Zdenka JanÃ¡ÄkovÃ¡. Translated and Edited by John Tyrrell