October 17th, 2009

Janacek’s Love Letters

From NPR:

At age 63, Czech composer Leos Janacek began his most unusual writing project — a constant stream of more than 700 love letters written to a married woman 37 years his junior. It’s remarkable, considering that the young woman, named Kamila, expressed little feeling for Janacek or his music.

Even so, Janacek filled his letters with passion. At an age when most people slow down, Janacek, fueled by his own unrequited love, went into high gear. He composed some of his best music, including the String Quartet No. 2 — called, appropriately, Intimate Letters.

Commentator Rob Kapilow pinpoints a section from the third movement of the quartet which he says reveals much about Janacek’s unique sound-world. The passage is actually a musical portrait of Kamila, one that Janacek described to her in a letter: “It will be very cheerful, and then dissolve into a vision of your image, transparent, as if in the mist.”

You can hear Janacek’s String Quartet No. 2, Moderato, and read more from this article, on the NPR website.

Incidentally, the latest avant garde project compilation includes some Janacek — Mladi.


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