Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959)

Episodes

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Broadcast
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01A Creative Identity2007102220090928

Born in the watchtower overlooking the small town Policka on the Bohemian-Moravian border, Bohuslav Martinu readily acknowledged that his unusual birthplace formed a significant influence on his music.

Presented by Donald Macleod.

The Opening of the Wells (excerpts)

Petr Messiereur, Jan Kvapil (violin)

Jan Talich (viola)

Stanislav Bogunia (piano)

Kühn Mixed Chorus

Supraphon 11 0767 2 231 CD1 Tr 1

A Memory; Footsteps in the Snow (Nipponari, Nos 3 and 5)

Dagmar Pickova (soprano)

Prague Symphony Orchestra

Jiri Belohavek (conductor)

Supraphon 1110902 CD1 Trs 6, 8

Obrocák (Borová)

Radoslav Kvapil (piano)

Unicorn Kanchana DKPCD9140 CD1 Tr 1

Duo concertante for two violins and orchestra, H264

Bohuslav Matousek, Régis Pasquiér (violin)

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Christopher Hogwood (conductor)

Hyperion CDA 67671 CD1 Trs 4-6

La revue de cuisine

Sinfonia Lahti Chamber Ensemble

Bis CD 653 CD1 Trs 8-11.

Martinu acknowledged that his odd birthplace formed a significant influence on his music.

01A Room With A View20161010

Includes Martinu's extraordinary childhood in a small town on the Bohemian-Moravian border

Donald Macleod looks at Martinu's extraordinary childhood in a small town on the Bohemian-Moravian border.

Caught up in the events of the Second World War, Bohuslav Martinu spent the majority of his life living in exile. When he was born in 1890, the little town of Policka was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A period of independence for Czechoslovakia came to an end when, in 1938, Hitler annexed part of the country to Germany. By the time of Martinu's death in 1959, he was living in Switzerland, where he was receiving treatment for cancer and the Communists had assumed power in his homeland. Yet, despite his protracted absence, Martinu remained spiritually attached to his homeland and readily acknowledged the influence of its music. But equally, as we'll hear across this week, Martinu's music expresses a rich diversity of styles. From his years spent in Paris there are works informed by the popularity of jazz and by Debussy and Stravinsky in the swinging 1920s. When he moved to the United States he turned to symphonic writing. On his return to Europe, he was drawn to Renaissance Art and produced chamber music, basking in the warmth of Nice as well as turning to the poetry of his beloved homeland. Drawing on all these experiences, Martinu was a prolific composer who worked ceaselessly at his craft. He produced a treasury of more than four hundred works across every conceivable form and instrumentation, which reflect not only his roots but his thirst for novelty and inspiration.

Martinu's birthplace, Policka, is a place like no other. He and his family lived at the top of the tower of St. James's church. Memories of the bird's-eye view one hundred and twenty feet high informed Martinu's musical imagination for his lifetime.

Borova (excerpt)

Giorgio Koukl, piano

Nonet (1st movement)

Ensemble Wien-Berlin

Songs on One Page

Gabriela Benackova, soprano

Rudolf Firkusny, piano

Half-Time

Brno State Philharmonic

Petr Vronsky, conductor

Piano Concerto No. 2

Robert Kolinsky, piano

Basel Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor.

02In Search Of Western Culture2007102320090929

Paris offered many literary possibilities, and Martinu honed them into theatrical projects

Once he'd moved to Paris, Martinu revelled in the literary possibilities the French capital offered, and soon turned this fascination into several theatrical projects. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Dance of the Hare (Suite from the ballet Spalicek)

Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor)

The devil's dance with Mariken (Hry o Marii)

Prague Radio Chorus

Prague Symphony Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek (conductor)

Julietta (excerpt, Act 2)

Maria Tauberova (soprano)

Michel Ivo Zidek (tenor)

Chorus and Orchestra of the National Theatre, Prague

Jaroslav Krombholc (conductor)

Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

His sister a poisoner (A Bouquet of Flowers)

Libuse Domanenska (soprano)

Lubomir Havlak (tenor)

Czech Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra

Karel Ancerl (conductor)

02La Vie Parisienne20161011

How the artistic hothouse of 1920s Paris was reflected in Martinu's music.

Donald Macleod finds the artistic hothouse of 1920s Paris reflected in Martinu's music, including Martinu's tale of love among the kitchen utensils, La revue de cuisine.

Caught up in the events of the Second World War, Bohuslav Martinu spent the majority of his life living in exile. When he was born in 1890, the little town of Policka was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A period of independence for Czechoslovakia came to an end when, in 1938, Hitler annexed part of the country to Germany. By the time of Martinu's death in 1959, he was living in Switzerland, where he was receiving treatment for cancer and the Communists had assumed power in his homeland. Yet, despite his protracted absence, Martinu remained spiritually attached to his homeland and readily acknowledged the influence of its music. But equally, as we'll hear across this week, Martinu's music expresses a rich diversity of styles. From his years spent in Paris there are works informed by the popularity of jazz and by Debussy and Stravinsky in the swinging 1920s. When he moved to the United States he turned to symphonic writing. On his return to Europe, he was drawn to Renaissance Art and produced chamber music, basking in the warmth of Nice as well as turning to the poetry of his beloved homeland. Drawing on all these experiences, Martinu was a prolific composer who worked ceaselessly at his craft. He produced a treasury of more than four hundred works across every conceivable form and instrumentation, which reflect not only his roots but his thirst for novelty and inspiration.

Having fallen in love with Paris while touring with the Czech Philharmonic as a violinist, in his twenties Martinu moved there on a permanent basis. The result was a proliferation of music which draws on the cross-fertilisation of culture he experienced around him. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Who is the most powerful in the World? (excerpt)

Prague Symphony Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek, conductor

Butterflies and Birds of Paradise (excerpt)

Emil Leichner, piano

Revue de cuisine

Bohumil Kotmel, violin

Frantisek Host, cello

Tomas Kopacek, clarinet

Frantisek Herman, bassoon

Jaroslav Halir, trumpet

Daniel Wiesner, piano

String Quartet No. 3

Doric String Quartet

La Bagarre

Brno State Philharmonic

Petr Vronsky, conductor.

03Love And War20161012

Donald Macleod assesses the dramatic impact on Martinu of war and a romantic liaison.

Donald Macleod assesses the converging events surrounding Martinu's love affair with Vitezslava Kapralova. Today's music includes excerpts from Martinu's opera of dreams, Julietta.

Caught up in the events of the Second World War, Bohuslav Martinu spent the majority of his life living in exile. When he was born in 1890, the little town of Policka was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A period of independence for Czechoslovakia came to an end when, in 1938, Hitler annexed part of the country to Germany. By the time of Martinu's death in 1959, he was living in Switzerland, where he was receiving treatment for cancer and the Communists had assumed power in his homeland. Yet, despite his protracted absence, Martinu remained spiritually attached to his homeland and readily acknowledged the influence of its music. But equally, as we'll hear across this week, Martinu's music expresses a rich diversity of styles. From his years spent in Paris there are works informed by the popularity of jazz and by Debussy and Stravinsky in the swinging 1920s. When he moved to the United States he turned to symphonic writing. On his return to Europe, he was drawn to Renaissance Art and produced chamber music, basking in the warmth of Nice as well as turning to the poetry of his beloved homeland. Drawing on all these experiences, Martinu was a prolific composer who worked ceaselessly at his craft. He produced a treasury of more than four hundred works across every conceivable form and instrumentation, which reflect not only his roots but his thirst for novelty and inspiration.

For Martinu, his breakthrough opera Julietta was a major artistic achievement. At the same time his personal life became more complicated when he fell in love with a young and talented fellow Czech composer. When the Second World War broke out, there were irrevocable consequences.

Zvestovani (Four Songs of Mary)

Brno Academy Choir

Jaroslav Kyzlink, conductor

Spalicek, Suite No 1

Estonian Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi, conductor

Julietta, Act 2: La scène des souvenirs

Steve Davislim (tenor), Michel

Frédéric Goncalves (baritone), Old man/youth

Michèle Lagrange (soprano), Old woman

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Charles Mackerras, conductor

Julietta, Act 3 Finale

Magdalena Kozena (soprano), Julietta

Nicolas Teste (bass-baritone), Night Watchman

Michèle Lagrange (soprano), Young Arab

Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timpani

Josef Ruzicka, piano

Jan Bouse, timpani

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

03Occupied France2007102420090930

The effect the German occupation of Martinu's birthland and his home, Paris, had on him.

Donald Macleod considers the effect the German occupation of Martinu's birthland, and later his chosen home in Paris, had on the composer.

Concerto for harpsichord and small orchestra (1st mvt)

Zuzana Ruzikova (harpsichord)

Josef Palenicek (piano)

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra

Vaclav Neumann (conductor)

Supraphon SU 3622-2-031 CD1 Tr 4

String Quartet No 2

Martinu Quartet

Lubomir Havlak, Petr Macecik (violins)

Jan Jisa (viola)

Jitka Vlasankova (cello)

Naxos 8.553782 CD1 Trs 5-7

The Field Mass

Ivan Kusnjer (baritone)

Miroslav Kejmar (trumpet)

Czech Philharmonic Choir (male voices)

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek (conductor)

Chandos Chan 9138 CD1 Tr 2.

04America2007102520091001

Martinu arrived in New York in 1941 and set about establishing his reputation in America.

When Martinu arrived in New York in 1941, he was a composer who was far better known in Europe. Donald Macleod assesses how Martinu set about establishing his reputation in the United States.

Sinfonietta Giocosa (Poco allegro)

Julian Jacobson (piano)

Bournemouth Sinfonietta

Tamas Vasary (conductor)

Chandos Chan 8859, CD1 Tr 1

First Symphony

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Bryden Thomson (conductor)

Chandos Chan 10316 (boxset), CD1 Trs 1-4

Memorial to Lidice

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek (conductor)

Chandos Chan 9138, CD1 Tr 1.

When Martinu arrived in New York in 1941, he was a composer who was far better known in Europe. Donald Macleod assesses how Martinu set about establishing his reputation in the States.

04Stars And Stripes20161013

Donald Macleod follows the dramatic events of Martinu's flight from war-torn Europe to America, where he begins to write symphonies.

Caught up in the events of the Second World War, Bohuslav Martinu spent the majority of his life living in exile. When he was born in 1890, the little town of Policka was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A period of independence for Czechoslovakia came to an end when, in 1938, Hitler annexed part of the country to Germany. By the time of Martinu's death in 1959, he was living in Switzerland, where he was receiving treatment for cancer and the Communists had assumed power in his homeland. Yet, despite his protracted absence, Martinu remained spiritually attached to his homeland and readily acknowledged the influence of its music. But equally, as we'll hear across this week, Martinu's music expresses a rich diversity of styles. From his years spent in Paris there are works informed by the popularity of jazz and by Debussy and Stravinsky in the swinging 1920s. When he moved to the United States he turned to symphonic writing. On his return to Europe, he was drawn to Renaissance Art and produced chamber music, basking in the warmth of Nice as well as turning to the poetry of his beloved homeland. Drawing on all these experiences, Martinu was a prolific composer who worked ceaselessly at his craft. He produced a treasury of more than four hundred works across every conceivable form and instrumentation, which reflect not only his roots but his thirst for novelty and inspiration.

After a perilous journey of some months' duration, the Martinus eventually arrived in America. Unable to speak the language, exhausted and penniless, Martinu set about establishing himself as a composer all over again.

Aj, stupaj (Czech Madrigals)

Brno Academy Choir

Jaroslav Kyzlink, conductor

Fantaisie et Toccata

Rudolf Firkusny, piano

Memorial to Lidice

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Jiri Belohlavek, conductor

Trio in F for flute, cello and piano

The Dartington Ensemble

Symphony No. 4 (2nd movement)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi, conductor.

Donald Macleod follows Martinu's perilous flight to America from war-torn Europe.

05 LASTA Czech In Exile2007102620091002

War and politics prevented Martinu returning to Czechoslovakia, and affected his music.

The Second World War and politics both played parts in preventing Martinu's return to Czechoslovakia.

Donald Macleod looks at the events which contributed to Martinu's chosen exile and assesses how they affected his music.

A comedy on the bridge (excerpt)

Jarmila Kratka (soprano)

Richard Novak (bass)

Brno Janacek Opera Orchestra

Frantisek Jilek (conductor)

Supraphon 112140-2 611, CD1 Trs 6-10

The Greek Passion (Act 3, Sc 1-2)

Rita Cullis, Helen Field, Catherine Savory (sopranos)

John Mitchinson, Arthur Davis (tenors)

John Tomlinson (bass)

Czech Philharmonic Choir

Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor)

Supraphon 103611-2 CD2

Gilgamesh (Part 1)

Ivan Kusnjer (baritone)

Ludek Vele (bass)

Eva Depoltova (soprano)

Stefan Margita (tenor)

Milan Karpisek (spoken word)

Slovak Philharmonic Choir

Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra

Zdenek Kosler (conductor)

Marco Polo 8.223316, CD1 Trs 1-10

String Quartet No 5 (2nd mvt - Adagio)

Stamitz Quartet

Bohuslav Matousek (violin)

Josef Kekula (violin)

Jan Peruska (viola)

Vladimir Leixner (cello)

BR 100152-54, CD Vol 2 Tr 6.

The Greek Passion (Act 3, Sc 1-3)

Rita Cullis, Helen Field, Catherine Savory (soprano)

John Mitchinson, Arthur Davis (tenor)

05 LASTThe Nomad20161014

Donald Macleod assesses Martinu's complicated relationship with his homeland.

Caught up in the events of the Second World War, Bohuslav Martinu spent the majority of his life living in exile. When he was born in 1890, the little town of Policka was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A period of independence for Czechoslovakia came to an end when, in 1938, Hitler annexed part of the country to Germany. By the time of Martinu's death in 1959, he was living in Switzerland, where he was receiving treatment for cancer and the Communists had assumed power in his homeland. Yet, despite his protracted absence, Martinu remained spiritually attached to his homeland and readily acknowledged the influence of its music. But equally, as we'll hear across this week, Martinu's music expresses a rich diversity of styles. From his years spent in Paris there are works informed by the popularity of jazz and by Debussy and Stravinsky in the swinging 1920s. When he moved to the United States he turned to symphonic writing. On his return to Europe, he was drawn to Renaissance Art and produced chamber music, basking in the warmth of Nice as well as turning to the poetry of his beloved homeland. Drawing on all these experiences, Martinu was a prolific composer who worked ceaselessly at his craft. He produced a treasury of more than four hundred works across every conceivable form and instrumentation, which reflect not only his roots but his thirst for novelty and inspiration.

Having lived abroad since the 1920s, in 1952 Martinu became an American citizen. Thereafter he divided his time between the United States and Europe. His final opera, The Greek Passion, is a tale of the dispossessed - perhaps a reflection of his own nomadic existence.

The Opening of the Wells (excerpt)

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Leos Cepicky, violin

Jan Schulmeister, violin

Jiri Zigmund, viola

Lenka Navratilova, piano

Nonet (3rd Movement)

The Dartington Ensemble

Cello Concerto (Andante moderato)

Jiri Barta, cello

Prague Philharmonic

Jakub Hrusa, conductor

Frescoes of Piero della Francesca

Basel Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor

The Greek Passion (Act 4, Finale)

John Mitchinson (tenor), Manolios

Geoffrey Moses (bass), Fotis

Helen Field (soprano), Katerina

Rita Cullis (soprano), Lenio

Czech Philharmonic Chorus

Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra

Charles Mackerras, conductor.