Tuesday, 8th October
19:30 Social event in the Municipal House, náměstí Republiky 1090/5, Prague 1
Cultural program – Camerata 2018
The Municipal House has been one of the most significant public buildings in Prague for over a hundred years. After the city administration had purchased the plots where the Royal Court, the medieval seat of the Bohemian kings, used to be located, they announced an architectural competition for the Municipal House in 1903. Unsatisfied with the results of the competition, the city administration awarded this project to architects Antonín Balšánek and Osvald Polívka. They designed the Municipal House, following instructions from the city council, as a multifunctional building, which included areas for ceremonial purposes, exhibitions, concerts as well as restaurants and shops.
The Municipal House facade is eyecatching not only due to its monumental architectural composition but also because of the unique profile created by its collection of the sculptural art of the time. Monumental allegorical figures, displayed all over the facade of the building, which were created by some of the greatest artists represent particular historical and classical cultural symbols (allegories of the nation, Prague, legendary characters and events, personification of art, philosophy, science, etc.), but they are also inspired by modern day symbols (allegories of industry, trade, transport).
The musical ensemble Camerata 2018 was founded by oboist and conductor Vojtěch Jouza, who also acts as the group’s artistic director. The ensemble primarily performs chamber music in various instrumental combinations with an emphasis on 20th century composers. The group members include musicians from the Czech Philharmonic as well as renowned soloists and chamber instrumentalists.
Vojtěch Jouza – oboe
Anna Sommerová – violin
Chikako Tomita – violin
Anežka Ferencová – viola
Petr Malíšek – cello
Bohuslav Martinů Three Madrigals (Duo no. 1) for violin and viola H. 313 – First movement
Bohuslav Martinů Mazurka-Nocturne for oboe, two violins and cello
Antonín Dvořák Miniatures Op. 75 and for two violins and viola
Anton Reicha Quintet F Major for oboe, two violins, viola and cello – Second and fourth movements
Bohuslav Martinů (1890 – 1959) was born in a room in the tower of the St. Jacob Church in Polička. He took several different courses at the Prague Music Conservatory with little success, and studied composing privately. He later studied briefly with Josef Suk. In 1923 he moved to Paris, and from there he had to flee from the Nazis to the USA under dramatic circumstances. He returned to Europe eight years after World War II, but could not return to his beloved homeland, which was by then ruled by Communists. He composed Three Madrigals in 1947 while recovering from a severe injury when he was only able to compose chamber music. The composition is dedicated to Lillian and Joseph Fuchs, who performed it that same year in New York. Although the composer worked with only two instruments in this case, he created a work with an extraordinarily rich sound whose expressive quality ranks it among serious compositions. The composition owes its great popularity to the depth of thinking involved, combined with the joyful interplay between the two instruments’ range of sound.
Mazurka-Nocturne was created on the impetus of UNESCO in 1949 for the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric Chopin. It is a three-part composition, where the Nocturne is the middle part, which is framed by the Mazurka. Here Martinů takes these two musical forms, loved by Chopin, and fills them with his own distinctive musical language.
Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904) composed his Miniatures (the original title was Bagatelles) for a small at-home ensemble that included his former colleague from the Prague Provisional Theatre Jan Pelikán and his student Josef Kruis, who also rented a room in the house where the Dvořáks lived. Dvořák occasionally joined the violin duo with his viola and first composed Terzetto in C major for them. However he overestimated Kruis’ musical maturity, and as compensation he composed a simpler trio, known today as Miniatures. The character of the work was best captured by Dvořák himself in a letter to the composer Simrock: “I am currently composing small Bagatelles, just imagine, for two violins and viola. This work brings me as much pleasure as if I were composing a major symphony – what do you think of that? They are of course intended for amateurs, but did not Beethoven and Schumann also once write little pieces, and look what they came up with!”
Anton Reicha (1770 – 1836) was born in Prague but spent most of his life abroad. He was a member of the Hofkapelle at the prince elector’s court and the theatre orchestra in Bonn along with the young Beethoven. He also worked in Hamburg and in Vienna, where he studied with Joseph Haydn, and moved to Paris in 1808, where he then lived permanently. He first became a professor and later the principal of the Paris conservatory. His students at the conservatory included Hector Berlioz, César Franck, Charles Gounod and his private student Ferenc Liszt. He became an important music theoretician and his writings influenced several generations of musical composers and researchers across all of Europe. He was deemed a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1835 for his work and became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France. Reicha’s wind quintets are the most often played works of his extensive compositional legacy, along with the chamber compositions for various instrument combinations. His Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet F Major shows Reicha as the author of exceptionally melodious invention, who splendidly utilizes the technical possibilities of the instruments in virtuoso passages.