General information
Title CZŠpalíček [auth.]
Subtitle CZbalet se zpěvem o 3 dějstvích
Title ENThe Chap-Book
Subtitle ENballet with singing in 3 acts
Title DEŠpalíček
Subtitle DEBallett mit Gesang in drei Aufzügen
Title FR
Subtitle FR
CategoryStage Works and Film Music
Halbreich number and suffix214 II
Parts of composition (movements)1st ACT: Prolog; Overture. Tableau I: Hra na "pannu"; Hra na hastrmana; Hra na vlčka; Kohoutek a slepička. Tableau II: Pohádka o kocourovi v botách. *** 2nd ACT: Pohádka o ševci a kouzelní mošně. *** 3rd ACT: Tableau I: Legenda o sv. Dorotě. Tableau II: Vynášení smrti. Tableau III: Pohádka o Popelce (Ples na zámku). Tableau IV: Náves. Hra na zlatou bránu. Tanec dam. Tanec venkovských děvčat. Kolo děvčat se rozestoupne a objeví se Popelka. Česká svatba. Loučení nevěsty a cesta k ženichovi.
Instruments3222-4231-Timp-Batt-Pf-Archi; Coro femminile (nebo/or Coro voci bianche)
Solo voiceS T B
List of characters
Diplomatic transcription of dedication
Note on dedication
Place of composition
Year of origin1940
Initiation of composition02/1940
Finishing of composition26.05.1940
Last modification of composition
First performance
Performer Václav Kašlík (dir./cond.), Josef Svoboda (scéna/stage design), Nina Jirsíková (režie a choreografie/direction and choreography)
Jirsíková, Nina
Kašlík, Václav
Svoboda, Josef
Date of first performance02.04.1949
Location of first performancePrague, National Theatre
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Deposition location
OwnerBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
Note on autographAutograph deposited under the call number PBM Ac 137 contains also autograph score of St. Dorota Legend from 1931.
Manuscript deposition 2
InstitutionPaul Sacher Stiftung
Deposition location
OwnerPaul Sacher Stiftung, Basel
Note on autographSecond autograph score of the St. Dorota Legend.
Place of issue
PublisherTheatrical and Literary Agency
Year of publication1956
CopyrightDilia, Prague
NoteSecond version of Špalíček. *** First version was composed between 1931-1932, see H 214 I. *** Lyrics (Czech) by Bohuslav Martinů after the folk legends, fairy tales, songs and rhymes. *** Modified and rearranged for large orchestra (with an exception of the St. Dorota Legend). *** Piano reduction by Karel Šolc published by Orbis, Prague 1951.


Bohuslav Martinů (b. December 8, 1890 in Polička, d. August 28, 1959 in Liestal, Switzerland) left, as is well-known, in autumn 1923 for Paris where he began his peculiar existence far away from home. Return to his native land gradually became his predominant thought, which left a marked imprint on his music. This is particularly true about the three compositions featured on this album, with their multiple ties with Czech folk tradition. Špalíček bears, in the composer's autograph, the subtitle of “ballet of popular plays, customs and fairy-tales - ballet-revue”, a succinct characteristic of the work. Bohuslav Martinů was inclined to drawing inspiration from folklore throughout his life and the refined emotional effect of Špalíček reveals that this orientation served to counter-balance the pressure of the cosmopolitan milieu of Paris. He began work on it in 1931 and finished the first version one year later with Špalíček orientating his 1930s output at simplified expression and accessibility of his works to wide audiences at home. The title of the folk ballet is untranslatable. In Czech culture, the word “špalíček” is associated particularly with the famous collection of folk poetry illustrated with superb genre pictures of the life in Czech villages in the past centuries by the classic of Czech Romantic drawing, Mikoláš Aleš (1852-1913). It, moreover, suggests the idea of a thick book in the shape of a cube as had been popular with both readers and publishers in the 17th and 18th centuries and which was often the symbol of the consolidation of national consciousness through literature.

Martinů returned to Špalíček (after its premiere in Prague on Sept. 19, 1933, soon after which-followed its staging in Brno on Nov. 25, 1933) in 1937, and again in 1940 (with the final version dated May 26, 1940). The modifications of 1937 were due to the unrealized intention to stage Špalíček in the Soviet Union, later also in Yugoslavia and (in 1940) in Chicago. "The Legend of St. Dorothea", a traditional European theme which had been alive in Bohemia still in the past century as a folk drama, is Špalíček's oldest part. The work's first version ended with the "ballet cantata" after "The Spectre's Bride" of Karel Jaromír Erben, a famous collector of Czech folk songs who, inspired by them, wrote The Bouquet of Flowers, a book of Romantic ballads containing also "The Spectre's Bride".

In Špalíček, Bohuslav Martinů's yearning for home was expressed with particular strength as he realized ever more clearly the unnaturalness of his separation from it in the 1950s (he never returned to his native land after 1938). At that time, one of his compatriots, also a native of Polička, poet Miloslav Bureš, contacted him and, to his verse, Martinů wrote the chamber cantata Opening of the Wells (1955), which was later included in a four-part cycle, including also The Dandelion Romance (1957) for mixed chorus with soprano solo--a girl awaits her sweetheart returning home from military service after a long seven years ...

Primrose is five duets with the piano and violin, of 1954, to the texts of Moravian folk poetry, and was one of the first compositions in demand by interpreters in the composer's homeland in the last years of his life, and especially so after he settled for good in Europe in 1953 - with exception of a several months’ stay in New York in 1955/56. The cycle of duets was written on the request of conductor Zdeněk Zouhar, who wanted it for the Brno-based Opus female chorus, which he then headed.


Sleeve taken from CD Romance z pampelišek, © Supraphon 1991, 11 0752-2 232




« previous
ID 500 (entry 1 / 0)
next »