Founded 1974
Jakub Hrůša
Graham Melville-Mason
Antonín Dvořák III †
Radomil Eliška
Markéta Hallová
Miloš Jurkovič
Radoslav Kvapil
Alena Němcová
Sylvie Bodorovà

Journal “Czech Music” Volume 23 (Abstract)

Contents of this page

Martinu’s “Impressive Quiet”
F. James Rybka and Sally Ozonoff
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 23 (2003-2004), pp. 31-49]

     Unusual quirks in Martinu’s personality became apparent from an early age. These included extreme shyness, chilly and subdued emotional reactions, and proneness to social gaffes. The authors postulate these may have been symptoms of him suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder which was, however, unrecognised at the time. Criteria for diagnosing the syndrome are outlined, and are illustrated from many episodes in the composer’s life. The disorder is argued to have hampered Martinu’s acceptance in some musical circles through inhibiting his capacity to teach, conduct, self-promote and generally to appear before the public. While the evidence might well meet current criteria for diagnosing Asperger’s syndrome, it is accepted that this is a retrospective diagnosis which cannot be proved.

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Places of Residence of the Young Antonin Dvořák and His Parents, 1841-1860
David Beveridge
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 23 (2003-2004), pp. 51-161]

     A lengthy and copiously footnoted article first analyses critically previous work on the residential moves in Dvořák’s early life between 1841 and 1860, during which time he lived at six different addresses in four different settlements. Many of the earlier accounts are shown to be inaccurate and/or speculative. In meticulous detail, the author links previous research with more recent and reliable evidence on these residential moves, offering what now can be regarded as a more definitive history. Uncertainties still remain, however.

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Bedřich Smetana
Cecil Parrott
Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 23 (2003-2004), pp. 162-167

     Smetana was brought up speaking German and was influenced from an early stage by German culture. Among his idols were Liszt and Wagner. Uncomfortable with the Czech language, he was regularly accused of being insufficiently nationalistic in his music. Later, however, he came to regard his prime mission as to be a composer for his own country, his motivation reinforced by mid-century Austrian oppression and duplicity which had provoked and strengthened the movement for Czech independence. Smetana may well have regarded his patriotic opera Libuše as his crowning achievement. By concentrating on composing for national purposes, however, he gained stature at home though less so abroad, despite the widespread success of The Bartered Bride and Vltava. The author concludes that the composer’s mission was first and foremost musical and only secondly patriotic.

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Josef Bartoš’s View of Dvořák
Rudolf Pečman
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 23 (2003-2004), pp. 168-172]

     The Czech music critic Josef Bartoš sought to steep Czech culture with the aesthetics of the Romance world and particularly of France. His writings were polarized, valuing the music of, for example, Smetana, Fibich and Foerster, but scorning that of Dvořák, Novák and Janáček. He looked at Dvořák’s work through a double prism, to an extent appreciating the orchestral, instrumental and chamber music, but denouncing that of the operas and choral works. In general, he was negative towards Dvořák’s music and influence, dismissing the composer’s works as eclectic and backward looking, shying away from big ideas and developments abroad, and acting as a brake on the development of Czech music.Though Bartoš distanced himself to a degree from the extreme invective of the journal Smetana, he none the less presented Dvorak’s music in poor light, not least in comparison with that of Smetana, whom he regarded as the real dramatist. The author concludes that Bartoš’s arguments were largely ideological, decrying anything that was not in his perception ‘progressive’.

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Dvořák’ as Criticised in the Periodical Smetana and in the Writings by Members of its Editorial Circle
Jindřiška Bártová
[Czech Music: Journal of the Dvořák Society, 23 (2003-2004), pp. 173-178]

     The musical periodical Smetana provided a platform for the extremist views of the critic Nejedlý and his camp followers, in particular Helfert and Bartoš. Confrontational in tone, it nevertheless was to shape Czech musical life over more than two decades. The polemic was antithetical: negative towards Dvořák, Novák, Suk and Janáček, and positive towards Smetana, Fibich and Foerster. Special condemnation was reserved for Dvořák, who was accused of parochialism and musical plagiarism, copying and caricaturing Smetana. The New World Symphony was dismissed as having no trace of symphonic structure. The abuse was particularly venomous in the period 1911-15, after which it switched to attacks on Suk and Janáček. None of the judgements were based on musical analysis but rather on an ideological preoccupation with late-nineteenth century German influences, both Wagnerian and Mahlerian, promoted as musical progressivism. Helfert, however, later disassociated himself from the general criticism, describing the invective as ‘passing thought and poorly understood second-hand doctrine’.

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