Friday, October 28, 2011:Dušičky Arrives
With November the autumn gloom arrives in the Czech Republic in full force: fog-clad days, and candles flickering on top of graves.
November 2 is Dušičky (All Souls’ Day), when many Czechs take seriously the centuries-old tradition of remembering loved ones who passed away.
Melancholy inspired two of the three compositions that the Guarneri Trio Prague will perform at the St Simon and Jude church on November 1. The playlist features musical memorials by the Czech musical giants Bedřich Smetana and Josef Suk. But don’t worry; Antonín Dvořák then arrives with his lively Dumka which will have you dancing in the aisles.
The concert is part of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK) chamber music series.
Although the author of the first piece, Josef Suk, didn’t achieve such worldwide popularity as his two predecessors, he is remembered because of his strong ties to Dvořák. He was his most successful student, and husband of Dvořák’s daughter Otýlie. Suk also was the founder of the legendary Czech Trio.
Suk composed Elegy, Opus 23 (subtitled Under the Impression of Zeyer’s Vyšehrad) in 1902. It was the first anniversary of the death of the Czech lyrical writer Julius Zeyer, whose works drove a lot of Suk’s music. Most famously Suk scored the music for Zeyer’s fairy tale play “Radúz and Mahulena.”
Compared with Suk’s composition, Smetana’s contribution to the chamber music, Trio in G Minor (1855), had a much more dramatic start. The death of Smetana’s 5-year-old daughter Bedřiška prompted the composer to create his first chamber music composition. He completed it in only two months following his daughter’s death. Without a doubt, it was a sad period in Smetana’s life as he lost in total three of his daughters to disease.
The evening will be completed by one of Dvořák’s best-known compositions, Trio in E Minor, Dumky, Opus 90. Originally a Ukrainian folk song, the dumka became very popular with many Slavic composers. Dvořák especially adopted the contrast in moods and pace characteristic for this form, when melancholy alternates with happier and livelier moments. It was first performed in 1891 with Antonín Dvořák at the piano. — oo
– Zuzana Sklenková
Photo Credits: Zuzana Pernicová