Leos Janacek

(1854-1928)

Leos Janacek (1854-1928)

The son of a Moravian schoolmaster, Janáček studied in Leipzig and Brno, where he started his working life as a music-teacher and choral conductor. From his mid-thrities, composition assumed an increasing prominence in his life, alongside musicology, and he played a central role in the revival and documentation of Moravian and Silesian folk music.

Something of a late bloomer, many of Janáček's major works were written when he was well into middle age and after he had retired from his teaching commitments, and included the operas Jenůfa, Káťa Kabanová and The Cunning Little Vixen (the final scene of which was performed at the composer's funeral), the two String Quartets The Kreutzer Sonata and Intimate Letters, the 1926 Sinfonietta and the huge Glagolitic Mass.

Influenced by his compatriots Dvorak and Smetana in the early part of his career, Janáček's music is distinguished by his fascination with Czech speech-rhythms and his research on folk music; his use of what he called 'sčasovka' (short rhythmic motives) also anticipates the minimalism of the later twentieth century.


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