General information
Title CZČtyři madrigaly
Subtitle CZpro hoboj, klarinet a fagot
Title ENFour Madrigals
Subtitle ENfor oboe, clarinet and bassoon
Title DEVier Madrigale
Subtitle DEfür Oboe, Klarinette und Fagott
Title FRQuatre madrigaux [auth.]
Subtitle FRpour hautbois, clarinette et basson [auth.]
CategoryChamber Music
SubcategoryTrios without Piano
Halbreich number266
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Allegro moderato; 2. Lento; 3. Poco allegretto; 4. Poco allegro
Durata18' 20''
InstrumentsOb Cl (in C) Fg
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationAu Trio d'Anches de Paris
Place of compositionNice
Year of origin1938
Initiation of composition12/1937
Completion of composition01. 01. 1938
First performance
Location of the first performanceParis
Ensemble Trio d`Anches de Paris
Trio d'anches de Paris
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBibliothèque nationale de France
Deposition locationParis
OwnerÉditions Max Eschig
Note on the autograph depostitionFacsimile of the autograph is located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightÉditions Max Eschig, Paris
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References Related writings
Documents in the Library
About the composition

In 1937 Bohuslav Martinů achieved several creative peaks in various musical genres. He finished his best-known opera Julietta, H 253, the cantata Bouquet of Flowers, H 260, and the composition Concerto grosso for Chamber Orchestra, H 263, one of the most significant concertante pieces of the 1930s, inspired by the technique of the Baroque “concerto grosso”. At the end of the same year, he began composing Four Madrigals for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon, H 266. In its title, he employed the designation “madrigal”, which in Renaissance music represented a polyphonic vocal composition, for the first time. Martinů first became interested in this musical genre when he heard a recital by the famous ensemble The English Singers while he was still in Prague in 1922. Four Madrigals, with the date of completion of this composition stated in the score--New Year 1938--were dedicated to the prominent Parisian ensemble Trio d’Anches, which premiered the composition the same year. It was followed by several other compositions with this designation, scored for both instruments and voice (e.g., Madrigal Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano, H 291, 1942, Madrigals for Male and Female Voices, H 380, 1959), the common element of which is a tendency toward the polyphonic structure. Martinů was most captured by the transparency and linear independence of the individual voices of Renaissance madrigals; their formal composition and literary background were less important to him.

In contrast to the compositional technique inspired by Renaissance vocal compositions, the movements in Four Madrigals follow the traditional model of an instrumental sonata--the first and final allegro movements, a slow second movement, and a scherzo as the third movement. The independence of voices is most conspicuous in the first and second movements; sometimes their encounters result in sharp harmonious accord. The composition also contains passages of pure imitation, such as in the first section of the second movement. For a while the second section of this movement is melodically dominated by the upper voice, accompanied by the other two in unison. The internal form of the third movement corresponds to the ABA structure of the classical scherzo movement, where the A section is repeated in the form of a literal transcription of da capo al fine. The finale leaves the most room for the virtuosity of musicians, providing them with an opportunity to display their perfect harmony.

Sandra Bergmannová, Jana Honzíková, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert; December 12, 2000

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