Chamber Music and Songs

Leos Janácek and Kamila Stösslová

All the major chamber works of Leos Janácek harken to the last ten years of the composer’s life, his most creative period. With the wind sextet “Youth”, both string quartets, “The Diary of One Who Disappeared”, and two chamber works with piano – “Concertino” and “Capriccio” – Janácek definitely found his place in the avant-garde of the 1920s.

At the very beginning of this tumultuous period stands “The Diary of One Who Disappeared”, a 30-minute intimate chamber drama for tenor, alto, three female voices, and piano. The composer began work on this remarkable vocal composition based on the words of an anonymous poet in the summer of 1917, immediately after having made the acquaintance of his life-long muse Kamila Stösslová during a holiday stay at the Luhacovice spa. Kamila was his model for Zefka, the Gypsy girl in “The Diary of One Who Disappeared”. “I potter about the garden in the morning, in the afternoon I regularly come up with a number of motives for those lovely verses about the Gypsy love. Perhaps it will make for a pretty little musical romance – it would contain a bit of that Luhacovice mood.”  He completed his only song cycle in the autumn of 1919. All of Janácek’s other songs, with one minor exception from the 1890s, are arrangements of folk songs for voice and piano. The first Urtext edition of “The Diary of One Who Disappeared” was prepared by Jirí Zahrádka.

 

 

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