Imprints. Essays on Czech Music and Aesthetics

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Jan Vicar: Imprints. Essays on Czech Music and Aesthetics

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There is not exactly an excess of literature on Czech music in English, and so it is good news that the Togga Publishing House in collaboration with Palacky University has added to it with a collection of texts by the musicologist, teacher and composer Jan Vicar.

The book is not concerned with Czech music as a whole or with some single defined theme or problem within in, but above all presents its author and the palette of his musicological and aesthetic interests. These interests range widely, including music history, theory and aesthetics, and it is with these categories that we can divide the eleven texts contained in the book into a number of thematic groups.

The first group focuses on selected chapters from the history of Czech music; Music Against War maps musical life during the Second World War, including the fates of the musicians who were sent to concentration camps. The chapter Echoes of Czech Music in America explores some aspects of the relationship between Czech music and the United States (Antonin Dvorak and the reception of his work, musical emigrants and their influence on American music and so on). In "Unknown" Czech Music after 1945 Vicar summarises the trends in post-war Czech music and tries to analyse its situation. This historical section ends with a monographic chapter on the film music of Vaclav Trojan. He is a composer to whom Jan Vicar had earlier devoted a whole book, and so the text offers foreign readers the chance to appreciate one part of it.

The second group of essays is more analytical. Two of the three are devoted to Leos Janacek and his pieces Zapisnik zmizeleho [Diary of One Who Disappeared] and Taras Bulba. Here the author offers a quite lengthy and detailed analysis of the form of the pieces, the treatment of motifs and the characteristic features of Janacek's musical language. …