2. 11. 2024, 3 p.m.

Reduta Theatre (Mozart Hall)

Ensemble: Martinů Voices

Conductor: Lukáš Vasilek

The performance lasts 80 minutes including a 25-minute intermission.

Buy tickets

Luboš Fišer – Songs for the Blind King John of Luxembourg
Jan Novák – Fugae Vergilianae (selection), Rana rupta
Antonín Dvořák – Four Choruses, Op. 29
Leoš Janáček – Nursery Rhymes
Bohuslav Martinů – Five Czech Madrigals


The concert presents compositions by Antonín Dvořák and major Czech composers of the twentieth century for mixed choir a capella or with instrumental accompaniment.
Songs for the Blind King John of Luxembourg by Luboš Fišer (1935–1999) is a typical example of the work of the exceptional international award-winning composer. The piece, which refers to medieval aesthetics, is composed for solo, female and male voices, viola da gamba, flute and timpani, was composed in 1975 and was already very popular at the time.
Jan Novák (1921–1984) is also one of the most important Czech composers of the post-war generation. He studied in the USA, where he attended Aaron Copland’s class. However, private lessons with Bohuslav Martinů were of far greater importance for his musical language. His work was also strongly influenced by his unusual passion for Latin. The occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 found him in Italy and he did not return to his homeland. And it was in emigration that both of these compositions were created: Rana rupta from 1971 and three years later also an extremely demanding and original cycle for mixed choir Fugae Vergilianae, which was premiered forty years after its creation by the Martinů Voices ensemble with Lukáš Vasilek.

The Four Choruses from 1976 and 1978 are the first compositions by Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) for chorus. Dvořák chose to set to music verses by Adolf Heyduk and also texts from František Sušil’s collection “Moravian National Songs with Hymns Incorporated into Text”. This is the period when the deep friendship between the young Leoš Janáček and the already established composer Antonín Dvořák probably began.

Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) gifted himself with the whimsical Nursery Rhymes shortly after his seventieth birthday. These years are typical of the composer’s remarkable chamber instrumentation (Nursery Rhymes, Concertino, Capriccio). Inspiration came, as it had several times before, from his favourite Lidové noviny, when the supplement Dětský koutek (Children’s Corner) published short rhymes illustrated by Josef Lada, Ondřej Sekora and Jan Hála. In 1926, Janáček expanded the original version for mezzo-soprano, clarinet and piano not only with the addition of an ocarina or a child’s drum, but also with new rhymes. The eighteen small rhymes, accompanied by a short instrumental introduction, are a kind of miniatures (lasting from half a minute to one and a half minutes), melodically and rhythmically very expressive and based on the character of folk rhymes for children.

Five Czech Madrigals were composed by Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1958) in the USA in 1948. At that time, he was still thinking about returning to his homeland, but given the political situation after February, he was aware of the complexity of such a decision. Perhaps it was his longing for his native Highlands that led him to compose these beautiful madrigals on texts of Czech folk poetry.

Jiří Zahrádka