Janacek as Theorist

Janacek as Theorist

Janacek as Theorist

Janacek as Theorist

Excerpt

In addition to his activities as a composer, Leoš Janáček was a prolific literary personality whose works include not only letters, feuilletons, criticisms, autobiography, ethnographic and pedagogical studies but also numerous articles dealing with music theory. The scope of these theoretical works reveals not a mere dabbler, but a splendid talent who relentlessly pursued theoretical questions for a period of almost fifty years. They are unique documents; stimulating, diverse, exciting, and sometimes bewildering, they reflect Janáček's intense involvement with contemporary trends in philosophy, ethnography, physiology, and music theory, and his struggles in these worlds; yet they can hardly be found on a single bookshelf outside the Czech Republic.

In 1968, Zdeněk Blaiek wrote the following statement in his introduction to the first volume of the Janáček theoretical works:

Forty years have elapsed since the death of Leoš Janáček. His compositional works live; they are the center of constant attention at home and an ever-greater appreciation abroad. As a theorist, he has nonetheless remained almost unnoticed.

In the twenty years since that time, Janáček's popularity has continued to mushroom, both in Europe and the United States, yet his activities as a theorist are still all but unknown to most non-Czech scholars, and remain completely unavailable to the non-Czech reader.

Part of the problem in the dissemination of Janáček's works can be traced to the works themselves. Even in the Czech Republic they are considered difficult and unapproachable. Not only are we speaking of language, context, and tone; this difficulty is often combined with dis- organization, inconsistency, and at times, incoherence, so that the average reader may be inclined to dismiss the theoretical works as muddle, and the entire enterprise as a waste of time.

Another problem with Janáček's work is the relationship between the role and function of pedagogical theory on the one hand and speculative theory, on the other. Most of Janáček's theory was written for his students at the Brno Organ School and was thus instructional in . . .

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