Academic journal article Notes

S Kým Korespondoval Bedrich Smetana/Bedrich Smetana's Correspondents/Mit Wem Korrespondierte Bedrich Smetana/Bedrich Smetana a Jeho Korespondence/and His Correspondence

Academic journal article Notes

S Kým Korespondoval Bedrich Smetana/Bedrich Smetana's Correspondents/Mit Wem Korrespondierte Bedrich Smetana/Bedrich Smetana a Jeho Korespondence/and His Correspondence

Article excerpt

S kým korespondoval Bedrich Smetana/Bedrich Smetana's Correspondents/Mit wem korrespondierte Bedrich Smetana. By Olga Mojzísová and Milan Pospísil. Prague: Národní muzeum, 2009. [lvi, 134 p. ISBN 9788070362587. 120 Kc.] Illustrations, index.

Bedrich Smetana a jeho korespondence/ and His Correspondence. By Olga Mojzísová and Milan Pospísil. Prague: Národní muzeum, 2011. [lvii, 478 p. ISBN 9788070363065. 490 Kc.] Illustrations, bibliography, indexes.

Both of these books contain catalogues; the first comprehensively lists the individuals with whom Smetana corresponded, and the second, the details of Smetana's sent and received letters. Neither includes actual reproductions of Smetana's letters, but instead are part of a much anticipated, larger project that aims to produce a critical edition of the composer's correspondence. Scholars attempted to organize such collections from the end of the nineteenth century onward, but their publications generally focused on listing the letters, rather than transcribing them (see, for example, Mirko Ocadlík, "Soupis dopisu° Bedricha Smetany" ["An Inventory of Bedrich Smetana's Letters"], Miscellanea musicologica 15 [1960]: 1-134). Additionally, the most recent, "popularizing" anthology (as Mojzísová and Pospísil aptly describe it in their 2011 publication, p. xxiv) is Frantisek Bartos's Smetana ve vzpomínkách a dopisech [Smetana in Reminiscences and Letters] (Prague: Topicova edice, 1939), now already over seventy years old. Bartos's collection is especially problematic for Englishspeakers, because it remains the only anthology of Smetana's letters available in translation (Bedrich Smetana: Letters and Reminiscences, trans. Daphne Rusbridge [Prague: Artia, 1955]). Now, however, Mojzísová and Pospísil have gained funding through the Czech National Museum's "Leading Figures in Czech Sciences and Culture" program to assess materials held in the museum's subsidiary Bedrich Smetana and Czech Music divisions. These materials, in addition to those held in foreign institutions and by private owners, amount to over 2,200 pieces (and counting; see the authors' 2011 publication under review here, p. xiv). In their Bedrich Smetana's Correspondents and Bedrich Smetana and His Correspondence, Mojzísová and Pospísil aim to provide valuable tools for negotiating the breadth of this collection.

Bedrich Smetana's Correspondents is comprised of two indexes; the first lists the individuals with whom Smetana communicated (592 listings), and the second, the institutions (266 listings). A third index also details the locations to and from which Smetana sent correspondence (213 listings). Each entry within these indexes includes a concise, practical description of a party or location as well as a description of the relation to Smetana. The entry for Franz Liszt, for example, briefly acknowledges his work as a composer, pianist, and pedagogue before listing the instances in which Smetana interacted with him, either by letter or in person (p. 31). The entry for the city of Litomysl, where Smetana was born, locates it within the district of Svitavy and in the Pardubice region before listing the residents and organizations with whom Smetana exchanged correspondence (p. 106). The catalog's greatest strength is that it makes available information concerning less prominent figures in Smetana's biography (composer Josef Drahorád on p. 10, for example), but its weakness (for English-speaking audiences) is that the indexes are listed entirely in Czech. The book's front matter is translated into both English and German, however, and includes an overview of Smetana's letters as well as graphs illustrating the current state of the collection and the frequency of Smetana's correspondence.

The whole of Mojzísová and Pospísil's Bedrich Smetana and His Correspondence, which offers a comprehensive record of Smetana's known letters, is provided in both Czech and English. As the authors explain in their introduction, they aimed in this catalogue to provide a "final, partial insight into the whole of Smetana's correspondence" (p. …

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