Leoš Janáček and the Avant-garde of the Twenties
AbstractA brief consideration of Janáček's connections with the modernist trends in the music of the twenties involves an exact analysis of his later work. In the work of this composer who was born in the fifties of the last century we find a number of the fundamental problems of modern music, such as melodies and chords of the forth, the whole-tone scale, the loss of tonality and tonal centre, some characteristics of tetrachordal groups, the beginnings of bitonality, an original use of macro- and micro-techtonics often operating with the so-called constant montage, and finally the beginnings of working with two desparate layers at the same time. The author tries to show the relation of Janáček, composer and man, to the avant-garde of the twenties. His relation to Schönberg was intensest in 1920 when he studied his »Harmonielehre« in detail; later, however, it assumed a critical aspect, as can be seen from his observations on the book mentioned and on certain compositions of Schönberg (Serenade in Venice 1925). After the encounter of both composers in Berlin (1926) Janáček wrote to Max Brod: »Schreker and Schönberg came to me to compliment me on the opera Káta Kabanova. This gave me the greatest pleasure . . .« He emphasized consciously his relation to the avant-garde in the speech on the occasion of his promotion on January 28tn, 1925, when he said: ». . . The moderns Schreker, Schönberg, Debussy feel in the same manner as I . . .« In the last two years of his life Janáček came to know the work of Berg also. He realised intuitively the profound significance of the genius of the Austrian musical dramatist and commented in the following manner: ». . . He is a dramatist of astounding significance, of deep truth. Let him speak! . . . his every note has been steeped in blood . . .« The author draws attention to the apparent ideological similarity of »Wozzeck« and of Janáček's last opera »From the House of the Dead«. The paper brings some additional evidence of Janáček's connections with the avant-garde. The author points out that Paul Hindemith first performed Janáček's violin sonata in 1923 and that he prepared some further performances. His relation to Béla Bartók is indicated by the concert arranged by Janáček in Brno on March 3rd, 1925. Janáček heard, analysed and criticised also a number of compositions by Igor Stravinsky. Further the enthusiasm of the younger generation for Janáček's work is documented: the two letters of Paul Dessau, the visit of the American experimentalist Henry Cowell who later nominated Janáček together with Bartók, Hába, Křenek, Berg and so on as honorary members of the New Music Society of California, the sincere relation of the Prague Society for Modern Music to the composer who had been its honorary member since December 16th, 1924. Finally the author outlines the most important characteristics of the music of the twentieth century in Janáček's work, which clearly forshadow the sphere of European music of the twenties and thirties.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 1968 Miloš Štědroň
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors are confirming that they are the authors of the submitting article, which will be published (print and online) in journal Musicological Annual by Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia). Author’s name will be evident in the article in journal. All decisions regarding layout and distribution of the work are in hands of the publisher.
- Authors guarantee that the work is their own original creation and does not infringe any statutory or common-law copyright or any proprietary right of any third party. In case of claims by third parties, authors commit their self to defend the interests of the publisher, and shall cover any potential costs.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.