Janáček and PSMU

"When I founded PSMU in 1903, Janacek was not interested in the new choir until he heard us by chance in 1904 in Veselí nad Moravou. He was very surprised and immediately sent me an interesting letter and two compositions-  Dež víš and  Klekánica. Having seen the compositions, I was impressed and considered them valuable, which I immediately told the composer. The parts were copied and sent immediately to the “workshop”. "

So simply Ferdinand Vach, the founder of the Choral Society of Moravian Teachers, portrayed first contact with the new choir and Leos Janacek, who was the author of more than twenty-five male compositions, which he composed for choirs he once directed. Janáček had the two compositions of Dež víš and Klekánica at home for a long time so he took an opportunity and offered them to Vach. Coincidentally, Janáček had compositions to text in haná dialect for the choir, which originated in Kromeříž in Haná. Vach immediately took them to "workshop". Next year, 26 November 1905, Moravian teachers performed both songs in Přerov and since that day they were very successful songs of domestic and international concert tours for several years. Composer, apparently satisfied with the increasing artistic success of the choir, composed two other songs. Later he dedicated a collection bearing the name Čtvero mužských sborů moravských (“Four male Moravian songs”) to the Choral Society of Moravian Teachers.

However, 12th March 1908 will forever remain a memorable day of the PSMU history. On that day a concert took place in Prostějov, which was a rehearsal for a carefully prepared trip to Paris. Janaček’s Maryčka Magdonová was first performed there, which is together with other two “Bezruč’s compositions”, Kantor Halfar and 70 000, an important turning point in both the Janáček’s choral production, and in the interpretative style of the Moravian teachers. An important role in their formation played another meeting- this time the meeting of the composer and the poet. Striking force of Bezruč’s verses, which was so close to Janáček’s rebellious spirit, and the vision of the male chorus sound must have been very inspiring for Janáček.  The challenge to study Maryčka initially seemed unattainable for the choral society but "the task was finally achieved." Later, new versions of the composition Kantor Halfar, 70 000 and also Česká legie and Potulný šílenec were built on the success of Maryčka.

 

Potulný šílenec (Wandering Lunatic) is one of the most fascinating Janacek’s compositions. In June 1921 Janáček heard an Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Thákur reading his poems and not long after Janáček decided to use the translation of the poem “Zahradník” to create the composition mentioned above. In this work Janáček reflects on human’s fate and looks back on the time when he was trying to find his way, where every step was a step in vehement search. The fate of the wandering madman, which again looks for a "magic stone", depicts a true picture of Janáček's life and on his tombstone there is an apt epitaph "... with the quenched force and the heart in the dust, like a tree, which has been pulled down."

 

In 1924, when PSMU was preparing a concert program to the composer's seventieth birthday, a very representative selection of compositions was included, beside compositions from Janacek's early choral works and best "Haná" songs, there were also all three “Bezruč’s compositions”, Česká legie and Potulný šílenec. PSMU has maintained this basic Janáček’s repertoire with slight modifications up to now. PSMU is the only choir in our country, which is capable of performing Janacek’s works for male choirs.

PhDr. Alena Němcová a Mgr. Jiří Krumpholc

 

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