Leos janacek

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Luis peñalva Professor Talley 19 century Music History November 24, 2008 Leos Janacek There are several factors that gave Janacekʼs music its own identity in the world of music, and made him stood out from being a generic classical composer. A very strong devotion to his culture moved him to search for inspiration in the Moravian, and Slovak folk music. This, in combination with the fact that herefused to follow the forms, and aesthetics concepts of the western world, gave his music a strong nationalistic character. Most of his success is due to his operas where he found his identity, and experimented with his innovative ideas. Janacek was born in Hukvaldy in Moravia in 1854. As a boy he became a choir member at the Augustinian ʻQueenʼsʼ Monastery in Brno. Later he went on to study atthe Prague, Leipzig, and Vienna conservatories. When he got back to Brno, he founded a college of organists, which he directed until 1920. The same year he married Zdenka Schulzova. In Brno he established a foundation for musical education, with violin and singing classes, an orchestra and later piano classes.

Later, Janacek started a more systematic compositional activity. He created the fourmale-voice choruses, dedicated to Antonin Dvorak, and his first opera Sarka among other works. At that time he also started to study and collect folk songs, dances and music. Janacek composed his first Opera, Sarka. However, despite the beauty of the score itself it was very similar to the style of Dvorak and Smetana. Janacek had problems obtaining rights for the libretto. The opera remainedun-performed until his 70th birthday. After the disappointment with the failure of staging his first opera, Janacek threw himself into a comprehensive study of Moravian music. In 1888 Janacek attended the performance in Prague of Tchaikovskyʼs music, and he met the composer personally1. Since early 1890s Janacek was at the forefront of folklorist activities in Moravia and Silesia. He set his folksongsand dances into orchestral and piano arrangements. In this same period his second child died of meningitis at the age of two. After a vast study of Moravian and Slovakian folk music, his next two Operas where completely influenced by Moravian music. He used the everyday Slovak speech and tried to translate into music. The result of this can be heard in his irregular melodic procedures that are oneof the main characteristics of his vocal music.

1

Gavin Plumley: Janacek, http://www.leosjanacek.co.uk (accessed November 24, 2008)

Janacek was from the region of Northeast Moravia where artistic expression was “rough, and intact from any form of stylization”2. He remained faithful to his cultural roots, and also refused to adopt the standards of western musical forms. His music wasdeveloped from the rhythmic, and melodic characteristics of his native folk music. Hans Hollander describes Janacekʼs music in his article “The Music of Leos Janacek- Its Origin in Folklore” as “short, unexpected melodic fragments, he built up his lyrical periods and his dramatic passages; frequent changes of rhythm, unusual and often bizarre intervals, irregularity of form, and frequent use of modaltonality are their most noteworthy characteristics”3. Also his texts, and subject for his vocal compositions had nationalistic themes. Slovakian folk songs have irregular measures, five or seven beats on a measure are often found in these music. Modal tonality is another main characteristic of Slovak folk music, and the form of speech rules their melodies. The minor keys are more common than themajor ones in Moravian and Slovakian folk songs, but its interesting sonorities rely on the use of modes and exotic scales. All the above-mentioned features of Moravian and Slovakian folk music, where used deliberately by Janacek, and are the foundation of his art. He was also an important collector of folk songs, focusing on Lachian, Moravian Slovakian, Moravian Wallachian and Slovakian songs....
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