General information
Title CZNonet č. 2
Subtitle CZpro flétnu, hoboj, klarinet, fagot, lesní roh, housle, violu, violoncello a kontrabas
Title ENNonet No. 2
Subtitle ENfor flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, violin, viola, violoncello and double bass
Title DENonett Nr. 2
Subtitle DEfur Flöte, Oboe, Klarinette, Fagott, Waldhorn, Violine, Viola, Cello und Kontrabass
CategoryChamber Music
Halbreich number374
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Poco allegro; 2. Andante; 3. Allegretto
Durata15' 40''
InstrumentsFl Ob Cl Fg Cor Vl Vla Vc Cb
Dedicatee České noneto
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationVěnováno | Československému Nonetu.
Note on the dedicationDedication on the title page of the autograph score; in the reproduction (PSS) corrected to "Věnováno Českemu Nonetu". In the printed score (SNKLHU, 1959): "Českému nonetu k 35. výročí jeho založení" (To the Czech Nonet to its 35th anniversary).
Place of compositionSchönenberg - Pratteln
Year of origin1959
Initiation of composition09.01.1959
Completion of composition01.02.1959
First performance
Leichner, Emil st.
Date of the first performance1959-07-27
Location of the first performanceSalzburg, Austria (Salzburg Festival)
Ensemble České noneto / Czech Nonet
České noneto
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition locationPolička
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on the autograph depostitionReproduction of the autograph score held by the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.
CopyrightBärenreiter Praha
CopyrightBärenreiter Praha
Purchase linkbuy
Český hudební fond, Prague, 1961
Call number at the BM Institute: 1209
Specification of the edition: Performance material
Details of this edition
Supraphon, Prague, 1979
Call number at the BM Institute: 1264
Specification of the edition: Reprint of the first edition
Details of this edition
Státní nakladatelství krásné literatury, hudby a umění, Prague, 1959
Call number at the BM Institute: 1264a
Specification of the edition: 1st edition
Details of this edition
Bärenreiter Praha, Prague, 2017
Call number at the BM Institute: 1264PSa-c
Specification of the edition: Bärenreiter Urtext Edition
Details of this edition
Bärenreiter Praha, Prague, 2015
Call number at the BM Institute: SV MAR 3
Specification of the edition: Bohuslav Martinů Complete Edition
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Second edition: Editio Supraphon, Prague 1979. Performing parts were published by the Czech Music Fund, Prague 1961.
About the composition

The first of Martinů’s two nonets, Nonet No. 1, H 144, was had been composed in 1925. According to Karel Šolc, it was intended for members of the Czech Philharmonic. Nonet No. 2 did not come about until 34 years later, in 1959. It was commissioned by the Czech Nonet, whose director, violinist Emil Leichner Sr, had approached Martinů via Miloš Šafránek67 once before in 1948, at the time of the 25th anniversary of the ensemble’s establishment. However, at the time his request was left unheeded. Ten years later Leichner contacted Martinů again, this time he asked him for a composition for the ensemble’s 35th anniversary. The

ensemble hoped to begin and end the celebratory concert with compositions they had specifically commissioned. This time Martinů accepted the commission, and his pledge caused a considerable stir both in Czechoslovakia and abroad. He worked on the piece in January and February 1959. On 20 January he made a request to Karel Šebánek: "Also phone Leichter [sic] of the Czech Nonet… and tell him that they can already put my new Nonet on their programme, I am working on it right now, and so unless it’s delayed by another operation, which it shouldn’t be, they will receive the score soon, in two three weeks." He completed the composition towards the end of January 1959 (the autograph score does not contain the exact day of completion, only the date “January 1959”). The composer’s correspondence shows that it must have been after 21 January, when he was still working on the Nonet, and before 3 February, when he was already correcting the autograph score. He sent a copy of the work to the Czech Nonet on 6 February 1959 together with a letter containing a list of modifications to the score. These are mainly suggestions regarding dynamics, but there are also several specific corrections. Emil Leichner confirmed the receipt of the score and informed the composer that the work would be premiered on 27 July 1959 at the Salzburg Festival. Leichner did not react to the questions and suggestions in the composer’s previous letter. Apparently, he did not see any problems with the work, and only asked Martinů if he might correct the dedication from “Czechoslovak” Nonet to “Czech”.

In a letter to Šafránek Martinů expressed his concerns that the Czech Nonet were wrong to schedule the premiere for Salzburg: "[…] if it isn’t dodecaphonique or 12-tone, it’s as if it didn’t exist there, so they shouldn’t take it badly if they give me a pounding there, like they did with the Frescoes." In June 1959 Leichner apologised to the composer that it took him so long to respond to his letter from February earlier that year, he again mentioned the upcoming premiere in Salzburg and sent several
questions regarding specific sections of the score. However, by then Martinů was struggling with a regression of his stomach cancer and lacked the strength to reply to the letter. The Czech Nonet gave a “pre-premiere” of the piece in Polička on 17 June, which garnered an enthusiastic response from the audience. On 20 June, that is still before the Salzburg premiere of the work, the Nonet performed the piece at a private concert in Prague. Leichner informed Martinů of this in a letter from the same day: "We performed the whole work today to K. Novák, Šebánek, and Kopelent. Subsequently, they all unanimously declared that they had shivers down their spine
when the 2nd movement ended."

The full public premiere took place at the festival in Salzburg on 27 July 1959. Bohuslav Martinů’s Nonet was performed together with Grand Nonett in F major op. 31 by Ludwig Spohr and Quintet for violin, viola, double bass, oboe and clarinet op. 39 by Sergei Prokofiev, as rendered by the Czech Nonet, comprising: Emil Leichner (violin), Vilém Kostečka (viola), Rudolf Lojda (cello), Oldřich Uher (double bass), Václav Žilka (flute), Václav Vodička (oboe), Oldřich Pergl (clarinet), Jaroslav Řezáč (bassoon), Arnošt Charvát (French horn). Emil Leichner writes that the Nonet was enthusiastically received by a full house at the Mozarteum. He sent Martinů the programme of the concert and promised that he would send Martinů the reviews when he obtained them. The concert was recorded and broadcast on 28 July 1959 (REC). On 29 September 1959 the Nonet was performed at festival in Budapest. The Prague premiere was planned for 15 October at the jubilee concert on the occasion of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Czech Nonet’s founding. However, the composer’s death on 28 August 1959 caused his Nonet to be performed in Prague on 15 September (a full month earlier) at a concert “in reverent memory of Bohuslav Martinů”, which was held in the club room of the Union of Czechoslovak Composers. On 15 October the official Prague premiere took place at the House of Artists (now the Rudolfinum). The programme included repeats of Josef Bohuslav Foerster’s Nonet op. 147 (1931) and Ludwig Spohr’s Grand Nonett in F major op. 31. Martinů’s composition was further performed in Warsaw on 2 November and at the Municipal Theatre in Písek on 17 November. Martinů had already offered Nonet No. 2 to the Paris publisher Eschig in March 1959.82 Unfortunately, no further correspondence on the subject can be found, though it is clear that the piece was not published as a result. In June 1959 the Prague publishing house SNKLHU sent the composer a contract for Nonet No. 2. A pocket edition was published in autumn 1959, probably shortly after the Prague premiere; the composer had no part in its preparation.

Jitka Zichová, Bohuslav Martinů Complete Edition IV/4/I, © 2015 Editio Bärenreiter Praha

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