Experience Progressive Czech Composer Leoš Janáček

Leoš Janáček was a Czech composer whose works rank among the most progressive compositions, influenced by Slavic arts, written in the 20th century.

Portrait of Leoš Janáček (1924) by Karel StoklasaUNESCO Memory of the World

Introducing Leoš Janáček

Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) was a Czech composer whose works rank among the most progressive compositions written in the 20th century. He’s known as personality who was significantly ahead of his time and brought innovative procedures and approaches to musical composition. 

Folk masters – Pskov blacksmiths Pyotr Efimov and Kirill Vasilyev (1967) by Pyotr P. Ossovsky (1925 - 2015)The Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA)

Slavic Folk Arts, Speech, Prose, and Literary Drama

Janáček was a recognized theorist, folklorist, and intellectual. His interest in Slavic culture was a reflection of Slavic solidarity for the emancipated European Slavic nations. Russian literature and the ancient history of the Slavs were inspirations for his musical works.

Slovenian National Songs (1895) by Karel ŠtrekeljNational and University Library of Slovenia

Moravian and Slavic Folk Music Influenced

Janáček was inspired by Moravian and other Slavic folk music in developing his original, modern musical style. Excellent examples of world music literature are  Sinfonietta and Glagolitic Mass, whose lyrics are in Old Church Slavonic language.

Leoš Janáček's autograph from the 3rd act of the opera Katya Kabanova (1920) by Leoš JanáčekUNESCO Memory of the World

Folklore and Speech Tunes

Janáček’s manuscripts display original musical language that relies on contemporary musical trends and is defined by experience in the field of folklore and the study of human psychology in “speech tunes.” He used this experience mainly in the musical drama genre.

Stage model, Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Affair (1973) by Ladislav VychodilThe Theatre Institute

Primarily an Opera Composer

Janáček was primarily an opera composer and most of his nine operas are pillars of the repertoires of global opera houses. Many drew upon his prose or literary dramatic works turned to librettos. Some include: Jenuufa, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropulos Affair.

The tale of a quick-witted fox and her escape from confinement for a life in the forest that is by turns joyful and violent,The Cunning Little Vixen  is an unsentimental parable of death and rebirth that lives through the instinctive and immediate world of nature, animal, and human, which Janacek loved so much. 

Stage model, Leoš Janáček: Káťa Kabanová (1978) by Ladislav VychodilThe Theatre Institute

Operas with Psychological and Social Themes

Psychological and social themes are the main pillars of  Janáček’s operas. He addresses the problem of autonomous freedom and refusal of social prejudice and injustice even at the cost of self-destruction.  Kata Kabanova ranks among the most remarkable operas in world operatic art.

Leoš Janáček after the rehearsal of his wind sextet Youth with members of the London Wind Quintet (1926) by Leoš JanáčekUNESCO Memory of the World

Chamber Music

Most of Janáček’s chamber music pieces were created during the last 10-years of his life, during the avant-garde of the 1920s. Some include: The Diary of One Who Disappeared, and two chamber works with piano – Concertino and Capriccio.

Arnold Schönberg - Franz Xaver Setzer’s photo studio (1922) by Franz Xaver SetzerUNESCO Memory of the World

Prominent Friends

Janáček had contact with prominent European politicians, writers, musicians, and architects. Allowing access to wide spectrum of contemporary artistic thinking and views. Including, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schönberg, Beela Bartook, Pietro Mascagni, Henry Cowel, T. G. Masaryk, etc.

Leoš Janáček's draft of the opera Jenůfa (20th century) by Leoš JanáčekUNESCO Memory of the World

Archives of Leoš Janáček

The Archives of Leoš Janáček spans 1933-2015 and contains manuscripts of his compositions and librettos, literary and scientific studies, notebooks, and library with numerous volumes of fiction and scientific literature with his handwritten comments, and personal correspondence.

Credits: Story
Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps