Nov 25, 2022
Along with Antonin Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana, Leos Janacek is known as one of the three great Czech composers. He was born in Moravia, part of the Austrian Empire at the time, and became passionately interested in studying the folk music of his Moravian culture. After World War I, when the empire collapsed and Moravia became incorporated into the new country of Czechoslovakia, those nationalistic sentiments only increased, and Janacek was the perfect person to express those feelings through his music, seeing as his interest in the folk music of his homeland had been a lifelong passion for him. Enter the Sinfonietta, written in 1926, commissioned by none other than a Gymnastics festival!
A sinfonietta is usually a smaller scale piece than a symphony, shorter, with a lighter orchestration and a lighter touch. But Janacek was always a rebel, and his Sinfonietta is a symphony in all but name, featuring an absolutely massive brass section that lustily performs the nationliaistic fanfares that Janacek gleefully adds to the music. The Sinfonietta is an expression of patriotic love for Janacek’s homeland, but it is also a piece that shows off so many of the things that make Janacek such a unique and underrated composer, his love of short fragmented melodies, his shocks and surprises, his innovative use of orchestration, and more. If you're not familiar with Janacek's music, the Sinfonietta is the perfect entry point, so come join us on this Patreon-sponsored episode!