Friday, October 14,2011:Duty Calls

Měchura's Klatovy, a town southwest of Prague, was founded in the 13th century.

When Duty Calls: Meet Mr Měchura

It’s such a pity that Leopold Měchura died in 1870. He would have been such an interesting character to know personally.

His father was a lawyer, and so possibly Leopold was expected – or pressured – to follow in the same type of profession. He did, studying law and philosophy, and music, in Prague. He became a provincial magistrate in the town of Otín at age 24 and dutifully fulfilled his chores as a rural lawyer for the next 12 years.

It was just that he had also played the piano, composed music, and conducted the household orchestra of Prince Lobkowitz when still a teenager in the early 1820s.

The settlement of his father’s estate in 1840 allowed Měchura to escape to the town of Klatovy, where he officially took the position of justice and later, assessor.

But here his real musical life finally began.

He played the organ, harmonium, and French horn. He performed the work of arranger and conductor for local theatre and concert events. He became immersed in the literary and cultural life of the area. And he composed music.

In the 1860s Měchura was drawn into the National Revival, and he composed several works which are considered minor masterpieces today. Among them are some cantatas and an opera, Marie Potocká, which Smetana conducted at the National Theatre in 1871 after Měchura’s death.

Music critics today like to compare his abilities to those of Smetana and Dvořák, and mark Mr Měchura as a minor stylistic predecessor to the two masters.

You can hear a sample of Leopold Měchura’s music performed by the Czech Horn Chorus, conducted by Radek Baborák. The concert takes places Thurs, Oct 20 at the Czech Museum of Music. – oo

– Mary Matz

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