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Changing Faces of Brno


In 1875 Leoš Janáček, probably the most well-known of Moravian composers, took up residence in Brno. He was soon intently working on raising the musical profile of the city, particularly as he saw its musical life as inferior to Prague's (some things never change). Janáček was a fervent cultural and musical critic who often contributed reviews and opinion pieces to the local papers. (From 1884 &ndash 1888 he even published and edited a musical newspaper, Hudební listy ["The Music Pages"].) In an essay accompanying the critical edition of Janáček's "literary works," Theodora Straková explains:
After his return to Brno (1875), Janáček became aware of the chasm between the relatively advanced Czech cultural life in Prague and the predominantly German-speaking Brno of that day. Thereafter he searched for ways to remedy the situation, and considered possibilities for elevating Brno's weak standard.

He was not afraid to stand his ground even if in an outspoken position and tenaciously argued the importance of Moravian (and Brunensian) music. These activities, what might be called today "advocacy," were all the more intense and exhausting when he was relatively unknown and championing a subject often considered hopelessly rural and beswamped by the residual rhetoric of folk song remaining after the nineteenth-century national revival. (Stubborn tenacity remains a necessary character trait for anyone endeavoring to study musical life here even today.)

Excerpt from "Janáček's Literary Legacy" by Theodora Straková in Leoš Janáček: Literární dílo (1875 &ndash 1928), vol. 1-1 (Brno: Editio Janáček, 2003), p. liii.

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Comments:

Blogger Karla said . . .

On tenacity, my brother agrees with me that it eventually prompts the respect of Czech archivists (and I assume Czechs in general).    

10:14 PM, April 13, 2006


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