General information
Title CZMadrigaly (Kniha písní)
Subtitle CZčtyři madrigaly pro smíšený sbor
Title ENMadrigals (Part-Song Book)
Subtitle ENfour madrigals for mixed choir
Title DEMadrigale (Chorliederbuch)
Subtitle DEvier Madrigale für gemischten Chor
CategoryVocal Music
Halbreich number380
Parts of the composition (movements)Incipits: 1. Tam z tej strany Dunaja; 2. Ej, jeden hájek; 3. Na tom světě nic stálého; 4. A ty si myslíš
Durata9' 30''
InstrumentsCoro misto (SSATB; č. 3: SATB)
Dedicatee Pražanová, Marie
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationVěnováno Marušce Pražanové | Marušce za její starost a péči o naši rodinu. | A vzpomínky.
Note on the dedicationDedicated to Maruška Pražanová. To Maruška for her concern and solicitude toward our family. And memories.
Origin
Place of compositionSchönenberg - Pratteln
Year of origin1959
Initiation of composition14.03.1959
Completion of composition20.03.1959
First performance
Performer Miroslav Venhoda (dir./cond.)
Venhoda, Miroslav
Date of the first performance1959-06-15
Location of the first performancePraha
Ensemble Pražští madrigalisté (Prague Madrigalists)
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition locationPolička
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on the autograph depostitionSketches of madrigals 1, 3 and 4 are held by the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička as well. *** Photocopy of the autograph score (including the title leaf which is missing by the autograph score held in Polička) located in the estate of Zdeněk Zouhar.
Copyright
CopyrightBärenreiter, Kassel
Purchase linkbuy
Sources
References Related correspondence
Documents in the Library
Note Lyrics from Moravian folk poetry (nos. 1 and 3 from František Sušil's collection, nos. 2 and 4 from František Bartoš's collection). *** German translation by Kurt Honolka. *** Bärenreiter published the composition with German lyrics only (B. A. 3755-3758). *** Only madrigals no. 1, 2 and 4 were performed on 15.06.1959 in Prague; premiere of the complete composition took place on 20.10.1959 in Brno (Miroslav Venhoda and Prague Madrigalists). *** Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Part-Song Book. | čili | Kniha písní."
About the composition

Although Martinů, did not explicitly consider himself a choral composer, he wrote a whole series of works on commission for Czech choirs that are frequently performed to this day and are beginning to find a place in concerts abroad as well. Among the best known are Four Songs about Mary, H 235, Brigand Songs, H 361, and three series of "madrigals" from 1938, 1948, and 1959. The Madrigals for mixed voices also sometimes called "Part-Song Book", were written in the last year of Martinů's life. At this time it must have been definitively clear to him that he would never be allowed to return to his native country. His opera The Greek Passion, H 372, whose second version he completed in January 1959, deals with the fates of refugees condemned to a life in exile. Perhaps he was also aware of his approaching death: at least this is suggested by the increased intensity of his work in composing - during a mere eight months he wrote more than ten works, among them two cantatas, the Chamber Music No 1, H 376, and the Nonet No. 2, H 374.

These four madrigals for five voices were written at the rural home of Paul and Maja Sacher from 14 to 20 March 1959. Martinů dedicated them to Mrs. Marie Pražanová, who for the whole long decades of his absence from his homeland cared for members of his family with self-sacrificing devotion. Again Martinů found the texts in collections of Moravian folk poetry by Sušil and Bartoš. Within the span of a mere seven days arose one of his best choral cycles, which is clearly dominated by Madrigal No. 3, "In the World is Nothing Constant." Sophisticated use of open fifths and opposition of a solo voice to the tutti make this madrigal a riveting, intimate confession of the composer about his own relation to death

Aleš Březina, Bohuslav Martinů: Selected Masterpieces, © 2001 Supraphon Music a.s

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