General information
Title CZSinfonietta giocosa
Subtitle CZpro klavír a malý orchestr
Title ENSinfonietta Giocosa
Subtitle ENfor piano and small orchestra
Title DESinfonietta giocosa
Subtitle DEfür Klavier und kleines Orchester
Title FRSinfonietta giocosa [auth.]
Subtitle FRpour piano et petit orchestre
Halbreich number282
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Poco allegro; 2. Allegretto poco moderato; 3. Allegro; 4. Andantino (moderato)
Solo voicePf
Dedicatee Leroux, Germaine
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationÀ Germaine Leroux | à son anniversaire | le dernier cadeau de France.
Note on the dedicationDedication on the first page of the autograph piano reduction (1940).
Place of compositionAix-en-Provence
Year of origin1940
Initiation of composition10/1940
Completion of composition12.11.1940
Last modification of the composition1941
First performance
Performer Germaine Leroux (Pf), Léon Barzin (dirigent/conductor)
Barzin, Léon
Leroux, Germaine
Date of the first performance1942-03-16
Location of the first performanceNew York, Carnegie Hall
Ensemble The National Orchestral Association
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition locationPolička
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on the autograph depostitionAutograph piano score. Autograph score is missing. *** Facsimile of the autograph score and parts in a copyist's hand are held by the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička as well.
CopyrightBoosey & Hawkes, London-New York
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Revised in 1941 in Pleasantville, New York. *** Arrangement for two pianos - Karel Šolc (Boosey and Hawkes, 1951). *** Title on the title page of the facsimile of the autograph score (Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička):"Sinfonietta giocosa | pour piano solo et petit orchestre". The title page contains also two dedications: "A | Germaine Leroux | pour son anniversaire | et | pour mon arrivée en Amerique. | B. Martinů | New York. 1/April 1941."; "Souvenir et 'congratulations' | pour le premiere a New York March 1942." *** Estimated durata according to B. Martinů: 7'+6'+8'25''+8' (=29'25'').
About the composition

The four-movement Sinfonietta giocosa for Piano and Orchestra, H 282came into being at one of the most thrilling times in Bohuslav Martinů’s life. In June 1940, after the German army entered Paris, he and his wife Charlotta had to leave the city. He spent several weeks handling the formalities required for their departure to the United States. Martinů stated that this piece was composed, on a tiresome and uncomfortable streetcar between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, which I traveled to almost daily for weeks on end to acquire an American visa and the near unattainable ‘visa de sortie’ from France. It was necessary to have a special permit from the police commissariat for each trip, which took about 4 to 5 hours a day”. Therefore it is extremely surprising that the Sinfonietta has such a joyous, almost playful mood, which made it one of Martinů’s most favorite compositions. This was certainly achieved also by its simple rendering and enlightened instrumentation. Martinů scored it for a small orchestra consisting only of woods and strings. The solo piano part is not written in the style of a romantic instrument concerto, but rather is used as a structural and above all aural contrast to the orchestral “tutti”. This fact testifies to the technique of the Baroque concerto grosso, which also inspired Martinů in many of his previous compositions. In addition to the solo piano, a “concertino” in the form of a quartet made up of flute, piano, cello and violin is heard at the end of the first section of the third movement followed by a chamber wind quintet in “Trio”. In addition to concertante elements reminiscent of music Martinů wrote in the 1930s, some sections display an obvious connection to the Double Concerto, H 271 which Martinů composed two years earlier. Both the most extensive and significant gradation planes of the first movement of Sinfonietta giocosa have a structure similar to that of the Double Concerto – the sequence of sixteenth runs is made more compact, forming a single strong current at the peak of crescendo. The form and exposition of main themes differ and the harmonics are more simple, inclining more toward tonality.

After his arrival in America, Martinů revised the composition and dedicated it to the pianist Germaine Leroux. He wanted to express his gratitude for the assistance she and her husband (Miloš Šafránek) had given him on his road to freedom. Sinfonietta giocosa was first performed by Germaine Leroux and the National Orchestra under the direction of Léon Barzin in Carnegie Hall on March 16, 1942.

Jana Honzíková, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, December 10, 2000

« previous
ID 207 (entry 1 / 0)
next »