The collections of the Theatre Department at the National Museum in Prague contain a set of sources that allow us to see how Bohuslav Martinů participated in preparing productions of his stage works. This is a collection of the composer’s correspondence and comments on stage direction written on the occasion of the first Prague performance of the four-part opera Hry o Marii (The Plays of Mary), H 236 in 1936. The text publishes full transcripts of all of these sources with critical commentary. This involves two letters from Bohuslav Martinů addressed to Josef Munclinger, one letter from the management of the National Theatre in Prague to Bohuslav Martinů, and two lists of the composer’s comments on stage direction.
In 2017 the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music obtained a rare set of memorabilia for the singer Emmy Destinn (1878–1930) from the estate of her friend Hilda Schueler-Mosert (1888–1965). The two women met in ca. 1905, and they remained in contact until Emmy Destinn’s death. Hilda Schueler, a German sculptress and painter, was forced to flee Germany with her husband in 1942 because of their Jewish origins. After the war, they settled in Sweden. The set of material contains letters, programmes and posters, newspaper clippings, photographs of the two women, and phonograph records. The items were donated by Hilda Schueler’s grandchildren, who live in Sweden.
The present harp collection of the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music contains Erard pedal harps from various periods of that famed Parisian company’s activity. In creating musical instruments, Sébastian Erard built upon the work of G. Cousineau and C. Groll and became the most successful manufacturer of double-action pedal harps with a fourchette (fork) mechanism (mécanique à fourchettes et à double mouvement). Erard’s work as an instrument maker influenced not only the historical development of the harp, but also the work of other instrument makers. In Bohemia, the Czech harp maker Alois Červenka (1858–1938) built upon Erard’s work with great success. The Erard harps in the collection of the Czech Museum of Music document the Czech socio-cultural context in which the harps of the French instrument maker were used from the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth.
The manuscript fragment in the collection of the National Museum Library in Prague under shelf mark 1 D a 3/52 is a sheet of paper with writing on both sides, containing two strata of inscriptions. The first stratum consists of accounting records, one of which is dated to 1356. That is also the terminus post quem for the other stratum of inscriptions, namely the musical notation of two liturgical plainchants in two-voice organ paraphrases. This involves the introit Salve, sancta parens and the Kyrie magne Deus. The discant is written in black mensural notation on a staff, while the tenor, which quotes the plainchant melody, is partially written in musical notation on the same staff, partially notated by letters for note names, and partially only indicated by syllables of text of the original plainchant. This notation documents the transition from practise without notation to the written notation of music for keyboard instruments, and it significantly supplements the material found in treatises from the milieu of the ars organisandi, which are available to us from fifteenth-century manuscripts.
The music library of the Elizabethan Nuns in Prague contains a collection of music that was copied by cantors of the Studnička family from the village Suchomasty near Beroun. The first cantor in Suchomasty from 1769 was Josef Jan Jakoubek (1751–1810), the uncle of Jakub Jan Ryba, and after his departure for Mníšek pod Brdy in 1785, his successor was František Vincenc Studnička (1764–1826). František Ladislav Studnička (1797–1864) carried on the family tradition, followed by Otomar Studnička (1845 – after 1900), who later went to Prague and took the family music collection with him. He worked as a teacher at a public school in Libeň, then at the Saint Wenceslas Prison in Prague’s New Town. From 1884 he continued his work as a teacher at the prison in Pilsen-Bory. In 1889 he donated the family music collection to a convent of the Elizabethan Nuns. That material was integrated into the convent’s collection, and it was still being used in the twentieth century.
A commemorative album with the correspondence of Josef Suk (1874-1935) belonged to his son. It contains both commemorative inscriptions made by persons who were in contact with the composer Josef Suk, and also correspondence addressed to the composer, and later to his grandson - the violinist Josef Suk (1929-2011). The album contains a total of 237 items. The article draws attention to certain figures from politics (T. G. Masaryk, František Drtina), authors and poets (Otakar Březina, Antonín Sova, Karel Václav Rais), painters (Hugo Boettinger, František Bílek, Otakar Nejedlý, Čenĕk Kvíčala, Adolf Kašpar), musicians (Václav Talich, Jaroslav Kocian, Vítĕzslav Novák, George Szell, Vladimír Helfert, and Suk’s pupils - Pavel Bořkovec, Julius Kalaš, Jaroslav Jezek, Emil Hlo- bil, Bohuslav Martinů, Miroslav Pone, Dalibor C. Vačkář, Vladimír Štĕdron, Mihovil Logar), and other persons.
Dvořák's Mass in D was commissioned by the Czech architect and visionary Josef Hlávka for the consecration of the chapel of his mansion in Lužany; the première of the original version of the work was given at a private service on 11 September, 1887. However, the focus of the present article is on a version of the work subsequently prepared by Dvorak, incorporating an added part for violoncello and bass, and submitted by him to the publishing house of Novello. Though it came to be overshadowed by the later orchestration of the work, it possesses virtues worth cherishing. Haig IJtidjian conducted the first modern revival of this version in Cologne on 8 July, 2014 and is currently preparing a critical edition for publication. A thorough critical investigation of all extant manuscript sources (some hitherto neglected) is seen to shed light on the composer’s thinking and to help clarify his intentions more generally.
As part of his research on development of the traditions of “Jan Hus” and “Hussitism” as musical subject matter, the author of the article has concentrated on 1848, the Year of Revolution. The first part of the text introduces the texts of revolutionary songs and outlines the circumstances that led to the transformation of the reception of historical traditions, and thereby led to the new form of their influence on music. The second part is based on the contents of songbooks in which songs about Jan Hus and Hussitism were given a place of prominence. The concluding third part offers a retrospective of the development of (musical) theatre. Playing a dominant role is the music to the drama Žižkova smrt (The Death of Žižka), which was composed by Frantisek Skroup and has recently seen a revival in contemporary dramaturgy.
This study deals with Bedrich Smetanas encounters with the legacy of William Shakespeare. The introduction is devoted to Smetana’s participation at the celebration of Shakespeare’s 300th birthday in 1864, at which he took part in the organization and dramaturgy as a conductor and a composer. The next part deals with the possible sources of Smetana’s knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays, followed by compositions inspired by specific dramas. It describes the circumstances of the genesis of the symphonic poem Richard III and of the piano composition Macbeth and Smetana’s conception of those works’ subject matter in relation to the shift of his artistic orientation towards programme music during his stay in Sweden. Above all, on the basis of their exchanged correspondence, the study then examines the ups and downs of Smetana’s relationship with the Eliska Krásnohorská and the composer’s unfinished opera Viola based on Twelfth Night.
In the course of research on fragments from the National Museum Library, a large torso was discovered containing hitherto unknown organ tablatures from the early seventeenth century (shelf mark CZ-Pn 1 K 219). The author of the article reassemble the torso based on signatures and analyzed its content, which consists of intabulations of sacred compositions by leading Renaissance composers (e.g. Orlando di Lasso, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Jakob Handl-Gallus) as well as some lesser-known composers. On the basis of analysis, she then focused her attention on Silesia and the German-speaking milieu of northern Bohemia and Moravia, compared the tablature with similar sources from Czech and foreign collections, and placed it in the context of musical practice in the milieu of Lutheranism.