General information
Title CZOtvírání studánek [auth.]
Subtitle CZkantáta pro sóla, ženský sbor a instrumentální doprovod
Title ENThe Opening of the Springs / The Opening of the Wells
Subtitle ENcantata for soli, female chorus and instrumental accompaniment
Title DEDas Maifest der Brünnlein
Subtitle DEKantate für Soli, Frauenchor und Instrumentalbegleitung
CategoryVocal Music
SubcategoryCantatas without Instrumental Accompaniment or with Single Instruments
Halbreich number354
Durata21'
InstrumentsVl Vl Vla Pf; coro femminile, coro voci bianche ad lib.
Solo voiceS A Bar Sp
Dedicatee Bureš, Miloslav
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationVěnováno | Miroslavu [sic] Burešovi | a našemu kraji.
Note on the dedicationDedicated to Miloslav Bureš and our [Vysočina] region.
Origin
Place of compositionNice
Year of origin1955
Initiation of composition07/1955
Completion of composition07/1955
First performance
Performer Zdeněk Zouhar (dirigent / conductor)
Zouhar, Zdeněk
Date of the first performance1956-01-07
Location of the first performancePolička (Tylův Dům)
Ensemble pěvecké sdružení OPUS
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition locationPolička
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on the autograph depostitionReproductions of the autograph score are located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre, in the Zdeněk Zouhar's estate and at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.
Copyright
CopyrightBärenreiter Praha
Purchase linkbuy
Sources
References Related correspondence
Documents in the Library
Note Lyrics by Miloslav Bureš. *** A pre-premiere took place on 7 December 1955 in Prague (conducted by Jan Kühn). *** Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Otvírání studánek. | [...] | Pro ženský sbor, Soprán, alt a Baryton Solo, (Recitátor) | a pro dvoje housle, violu a piano." (The Opening of the Springs - for female choir, soprano, alt and baritone solo, (speaker) and for two violins, viola and piano.) *** Furhter editions: SHV, Prague 1965; Editio Supraphon, Prague 1972; Editio Bärenreiter, Prague 1996; Bärenreiter Praha, Prague 2011. *** Alternative German title: Die Reinigung der Quellen (Harry Halbreich).
About the composition

On May 1, 1955, the Union of Czechoslovak Composers joined the December call of the Union of Soviet Composers to promote cooperation in songwriting between composers and poets. It, therefore, called on the Union of Czechoslovak Writers to work together. At the end of June 1955, the poet Miloslav Bureš sent the composer Bohuslav Martinů the poetic cycle The Song about the Well of Rubies. A year later, Bureš sent him another "song": To his old mother's song, and a year later A song About Mikš from the mountains. Martinů set the first of them to music immediately and renamed it The Opening of the Wells, H 354. But the "song" did not remain in the names of later cantatas, too. In 1957, when the composer was waiting for the poet in Rome, he set the following masterpiece to music: He called it The Romance from the Dandelions, H 364. He previously set to music another Bureš's cycle, renamed The Legend of the Smoke from Potato Tops, H 360. Martinů protested with this cantata in the autumn of 1956 against the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution. He postponed Bureš's last "song" for several years, until the beginning of 1959. He named this cantata Mikesh from the Mountains, H 375, and dedicated it to the founder and first choirmaster of Kühn's mixed choir, Pavel Kühn, for the first public concert of this ensemble on June 18, 1959.

In July 1955, Bohuslav Martinů did not know about the building and patriotic challenges behind the Iron Curtain. In the south of France, where he stayed, he had no idea that Miloslav Bureš had deliberately placed the plot of his poetic cycle about the Well of the Ruby in the vicinity of Tři Studně. He was aware of how this place would affect the composer and what memories it would evoke, not only of his native Vysočina but also of Vítězslava Kaprálová. Martinů also had no idea that Miloslav Bureš would expand the text during the summer of 1955. He gradually tried several topics that resonated with communist ideology (collectivization, nationalization, emigration). He eventually used guerrilla resistance. Martinů did not know that even his interest in Moravian folk art could be used by the Composers' Union for its own ideological goals. And in the summer of 1955, he had probably not heard in France about the new efforts of the communist regime to force the return of important personalities of emigration (amnesty, Return event). He became fully aware of this later in the United States when he was contacted by the State Security and tried in vain to persuade him to cooperate and return. He refused, only the archival report on the shredded volume with the ironic title "Bohouš" remained a testimony.

Shortly after its completion in 1955, the cantata The Opening of the Wells received as much attention as few contemporary compositions. Its "pre-premiere", conducted by Jan Kühn, was organized by the Composers' Association in Prague. In 1956, the cantata appeared in all the media of that time. The premiere with the OPUS choir, conducted by Zdeněk Zouhar, was presented by the radio from the recording shortly after it was heard in Polička in January 1956. A few days later the Czechoslovak television broadcast live a studio performance with Jan Kühn and his choirs (Jan Kühn himself added a children's choir to the cast). At the end of the year, a gramophone recording by Jan Kühn was released, as well as a score. The film adaptation of A. F. Šulc premiered only shortly afterward. This massive propaganda contrasted sharply with previous criticism and rejection of Bohuslav Martinů by the communist regime and differed by the much smaller interest that accompanied all later cantatas.

Vít Zouhar, Hudební rozhledy, 73/2020

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