General information
Title CZSerenáda č. 3
Subtitle CZpro hoboj, klarinet, čtvery housle a violoncello
Title ENSerenade No. 3
Subtitle ENfor oboe, clarinet, four violins and violoncello
Title DESerenade III
Subtitle DEfür Oboe, Klarinette, vier Violinen und Cello
CategoryChamber Music
Halbreich number218
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Poco allegro; 2. Tema con variazioni: Andante poco moderato
Durata7' 30''
InstrumentsOb Cl Vl Vl Vl Vl Vc
Place of compositionParis
Year of origin1932
Initiation of composition1932
Completion of composition01.04.1932
First performance
Date of the first performance1940-01-29
Location of the first performancePrague
Autograph deposition
InstitutionCzech Museum of Music
Deposition locationPrague
OwnerNational Museum – Czech Museum of Music, Department of Music History, Prague
Note on the autograph depostitionParts by copyist's hand located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightBärenreiter Praha
Purchase linkbuy
References related correspondence
Documents in the Library
Note Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Kleine Serenaden. | N. 3. | Serenada. | B. Martinů. | Aubade (Sol. m.) | Kleine Serenade in C. | für Oboe, clarinet, 4 violons und violoncello." First performance was during III. abonement cycle of concerts of society Přítomnost.
About the composition

Martinů composed a cycle of four serenades in Paris in 1932. Based on their dates of completion it is clear that Serenade No. 4 (Divertimento for chamber orchestra, H 215) was written first (it was completed on 29 February 1932). According to Šafránek, the Divertimento was only “later included into the cycle of four short Serenades for small chamber ensembles.”34 Serenades Nos. 1–3 follow in chronological order – on 25 March 1932 (No. 1), in March 1932 (No. 2, the autograph does not contain a more accurate dating), and on 1 April 1932 (No. 3). Besides their Czech title (in his correspondence Martinů termed them “Malé serenády” – Little Serenades), these compositions also have a German title (Kleine Serenaden) and a French one (L’Aubade, although that does not include the Divertimento, H 215). The title page of the autograph of Serenade No. 4, H 215  includes the author’s dedication “A la Société d´Etudes Mozartiennes, á Paris." However, we do not have any documents that indicate that this society ever performed the works. On the contrary, it is highly probable that they were not performed in Paris during 1932 at all. This is evidenced by the composer’s letter to Jan Kunc, in which he offered him the Serenades, while at the same time noting that he did not yet have the performance material. In 1932 he offered the whole cycle to Schott, which liked the compositions very much and was willing to publish them even though they were apparently not especially profitable from a publishing perspective. The publisher argued that they were short compositions, unsuitable for hiring out and designated for a limited market – small chamber ensembles, conservatories – and it thus stipulated a high margin on the profits. Its offer of 1,200 francs, which were also to cover the publishing of Rytmické etudy (Rhythmic Etudes), was refused by Martinů, who was convinced of the future success of this work and requested the sum of 2,000 francs from the publishing house. The composer’s further correspondence with Schott makes no mention of the publication of the Serenades, based on their written communication it is probable that around 9 May 1932 a verbal agreement was made at a meeting in Paris. Schott subsequently published only the Rhythmic Etudes and paid the author 1,200 francs for them. A letter to Miloš Šafránek, which contained a list of compositions including the dates of their premieres, shows that the Serenades were still waiting to be performed in 1935. In 1937 Martinů began negotiating their publication with Melantrich, the correspondence suggests that the Serenades were apparently premiered before 1937. The composer mentions that he will send them the scores that he “got together”, including the “Little Serenades”. In a letter from 25 May 1937 he writes that he is sending the material and the score of the Little Serenades”. Melantrich was given permission to make use of the scores after it received them, but it was necessary to work out the specific conditions. In the following years the author made no mention of the performance of this cycle or any of its parts, therefore the premiere is generally considered to have taken place on 16 October 1947 presented by members of the FOK, as is noted by Harry Halbreich. Unfortunately, neither the programme nor any reviews or other sources pertaining to this concert have been preserved. After that there is no record regarding the Serenades until 1949, when they were published by Melantrich. The composer’s correspondence with Karel Šebánek (Melantrich) suggests that he had already sent the scores to Prague in May 1935 (see above) but that twelve years later he hesitated to have them published. In fact, Šebánek seems to have had trouble finding them, and so the author referred him to the “Radio”, where they could perhaps be found, but he was not sure if he had not gifted them to Smetáček. It was not until the end of the 1940s that Martinů agreed to let Melantrich publish a pocket edition of the Serenades, though he took no part in its preparation. The performance material was published later, in 1954, and also without the composer’s involvement.

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

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