PRESS RELEASE Brno, April 27, 2021
They are linked to Brno, but each in a different way. One left as a four-year-old child, the second after 1968, and the third arrived aged eleven only to compose here for most of his life. One is world-famous mainly as an author of film scores, the second is still awaiting recognition, and the third is the most played Czech opera composer in the world. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Jan Novák, Leoš Janáček. Works by these three composers will be performed at a concert on 1 May which Czech Radio Vltava will be broadcasting live from 7.00 pm. “If it weren’t for the pandemic, the concert would have taken place in the Janáček theatre in front of an audience. Except alongside Novák we would have played Mahler and Ravel. We have had to change the programme over complications around the use of a choir and also so that it can be attractive for radio broadcast in particular. In so doing, it was crucial to keep Novák, with commemorations this year of 100 years since his birth,” says Filharmonie Brno Managing Director, Marie Kučerová.
Conducted by our Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies, the concert kicks off with Janáček’s Adagio for orchestra. This also happens to be the piece that Filharmonie played at its last concert for a live audience – last year on 11 October at the Janáček Brno festival. The following day, only streaming became possible. “This little-known and rather brief piece was discovered by Janáček’s pupil and later first Chief Conductor of Filharmonie Brno, Břetislav Bakala, in 1918 in a chest alongside the opera Šárka. The balladic nature of the entire piece, underscored by the D minor tone, likely relates to Janáček’s recent experience of the death of his son Vladimír,” explains Filharmonie Brno Programme Director, Vítězslav Mikeš. He adds that Chief Conductor Davies fell in love with the piece during rehearsals last year.
Janáček is followed by Jan Novák and his Ludi symphoniaci, which shows clear signs of the influence of his teacher, Bohuslav Martinů. “We certainly didn’t want to omit Novák from our programme. This still rather underappreciated Brno composer, for whom 8 April marks 100 years since his birth, is also one of the main programme links of this year’s Moravian Autumn festival,” says Mikeš. Novák’s symphony is a playful neoclassical focused piece fully corresponding to its title (Symphonic plays), its style revealing the influence of Novák’s teacher, Bohuslav Martinů. “We’ve already worked hard this year; besides numerous minor pieces I’ve also written my first quasi-symphony. It’s called Ludi symphoniaci I. and it’s only 20 minutes long. And I keep on writing that old-fashioned Moravian music, I don’t give a monkeys about progress, you know: old age reporting for duty, something I’ve suffered since birth…” This is how Jan Novák wrote of his piece to Evžen Zámečník on 19 May 1977 from Riva del Garda. A year and a quarter later, he also wrote to him: “Furthermore I’ve now had to transcribe material for Ludi Symphoniaci, which Kubelík is recording for me in a month in Munich. The Czech Music Fund is refusing to transcribe it until I come in person to make corrections, but I don’t want to; I’d rather waste time and not answer pen friends and eat dry bread.”
The live broadcast ends with Korngold’s Symphony in F-sharp major, a late Romantic work of Mahler cloth. This Brno native, a miraculous child who composed ballet music at eleven, renowned around the world in particular as a film score composer. The work we are playing is his only symphony. In 1959, renowned Greek conductor and composer, Dimitri Mitropoulos, wrote of it: “I have been looking my entire life for the perfect modern piece. I have found it in this symphony.”
Saturday’s concert is the third live broadcast by Brno Filharmonie on Radio Vltava this season. It follows on from the Paľa Plays Schnittke project in January, and the world premiere of Symphony No. 3 “A Line Above the Sky” by Austrian composer Thomas Larcher in March. The broadcast begins at 7.00 pm.
Media Contact: Kateřina Konečná, Head of PR and Marketing, Filharmonie Brno
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