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The complete set of Dvořák’s Moravian Duets on 24 March

Moravian folk poetry in a set of Dvořák’s Moravian Duets and cycles of 20th-century Czech classics will be performed by the soloists of the National Theatres in Prague and Brno, soprano Jana Sibera, mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová, tenor Ondřej Holub and pianist Jan Dušek at the New Town Hall in Prague on Sunday 24 March at 7.30 pm.

Sibera EN
Hrochova EN
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Dusek EN

For our sixteenth concert and the opening concert of this year’s third edition, entitled Songs with Moravian Scent, the Lieder Company Prague has chosen an exclusively Czech programme that combines the same theme – Moravian folk poetry set to music by prominent Czech composers.

Nazev EN

The centrepiece is undoubtedly the performance of all 23 of Antonín Dvořák’s Moravian Duets, a work that so impressed Johannes Brahms that he recommended it to the Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock, thus essentially launching Dvořák’s international career. Although in 1875 Dvořák was asked by the wholesaler Jan Neff to arrange several Moravian folk songs for two voices with piano for domestic amateur musical productions, he decided in the end to use only the folk texts from Susil’s collection and to set them to his own music.

However, the first three duets for soprano and tenor, which are generally the least performed today, so impressed Neff that he invited Dvořák to compose others for two female voices with piano. Over the next six years, Dvořák thus composed a total of 23 duets, which will be performed in their entirety.

Dvorak edited
Antonín Dvořák
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Klement Slavický
kabelac edited
Miloslav Kabeláč
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Antonín Tučapský

The relationship to Moravia is well known and understandable in the case of another of the authors mentioned, Klement Slavický, a native of Tovačov. His cycle Ej, srdenko moje was written in 1954, at a time when Slavický was labelled a formalist by the regime and the performance of his music was banned. The strong emotionality and wide range of expression of this extraordinary song cycle is so attractive to performers and listeners that it has not surprisingly become one of his most frequently performed works today.

The song output of the next featured author Miloslav Kabeláč is very modest and consists essentially of two cycles. One of them is the rarely performed Love Songs from 1955, which are intended for female and male voices and present Kabeláč on a somewhat different plane than the one we know from his extensive symphonic works, although the typical concentration and precision of musical expression is evident even in these relatively brief and highly impressive songs.

Antonín Tučapský, a native of Opatovice near Vyškov, has been connected with folklore and folk customs since his childhood. His work is mainly associated with choirs, to which he has been very close since his student days, and he strengthened this relationship after his emigration to Great Britain in 1975 by cooperating with the leading vocal ensembles there. The small song cycle Kvítí milodějné (Flowers of Love) was written in 1955 and Tučapský dedicated it to his long-time composition teacher Jan Kunc. It is surprising that this cycle has not yet been published in print and is therefore not practically performed in concert.