Chlubna, Janáček: Šárka

Chlubna, Janáček Šárka
Šárka

Chlubna, Janáček: Šárka

Year of composition:
1887-1888
Subtitle:
Opera in 3 acts
Composer:
Osvald Chlubna; Leoš Janáček
Editor:
Sir Charles Mackerras (2000); Jirí Zahrádka (2000)
Original language:
Czech
Translator:
H. Ulrich (15.11.2001); Larysa Molnárová (13.03.2002); Stefan Malzew (13.03.2002); John Tyrrell (14.11.2000); U. Damm (15.11.2001)
Roles:
Premysl, baritone Ctirad, tenor Šárka, dramatic soprano Lumír, tenor
Choir:
Chor der Wladiken, Tenöre, Bässe Chor der Kämpferinnen, Soprane, Alte Chor der Jünglinge, Tenöre, Bässe Chor der Mädchen, Soprane, Alte
Instrumentation:
2 3 3 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc, hp, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute (+picc)
2nd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
cor anglais
1st clarinet in Bb (+cl(A))
2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(A))
bass clarinet in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
contrabassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F (+hn in Eb)
3rd horn in F (+hn in Eb)
4th horn in F (+hn in Eb)
1st trumpet in F (+tpt in Eb)
2nd trumpet in F (+tpt in Eb)
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
tuba
timpani
percussion
harp
violin I
violin II
viola
violoncello
contrabass
Scenery:
3
Duration:
67’
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Audiosamples

Šárka
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

In early 1887 there appeared, published in the periodical Česká Thalie, a libretto for a musical drama, Šárka. Its author, Július Zeyer, was one of the most important Czech writers of the age. The young, still relatively unknown composer Leoš Janáček began immediately with the setting of Zeyer’s text to music.

The results of his belated attempt to obtain the author’s permission to do so, however, put a damper on Janáček’s creative urge: Zeyer forbade him to set the libretto. The author’s restrictive stance was due to the fact that he wanted more reputable composers, such as Dvořák or Smetana, to take up work on his text. Two letters from Janáček elicited negative answers from Zeyer, whereupon the young composer became discouraged and put aside his work, which by that time (late 1888) had grown to encompass the orchestration of the first two acts.

Almost exactly 30 years later, in late 1917 or early 1918, Janáček, who had meanwhile become famous, happened to rediscover the materials from his first opera Šárka – in an old chest, as he himself said. He remained convinced of the quality of this early work, and set about correcting the vocal lines, in accordance with his concept of speech melody which he had since developed. He then handed the piano score of the third act to his student Osvald Chlubna. Chlubna was to execute the instrumentation, albeit without access to the score of the first two acts. Janáček was satisfied with Chlubna’s finished work, although the Chlubna manuscript contains numerous later changes in Janáček’s hand.

A renewed attempt to gain permission to set the text to music was met with immediate approval by Zeyer’s legal successors. Janáček continued working, making further corrections to all three acts of his Šárka: he cut some measures, added others, and removed whole passages in order to insert them elsewhere. Only afterwards, sometime during the year of 1919, was Janáček’s publisher, Universal Edition, informed of the existence of a new work.

A further six years went by until Janáček was finally able, in 1925, to attend the premiere of Šárka. In the meanwhile, the composer had continued to revise certain passages; in the summer of 1925, he handed over the score to copyists, who wrote out the instrumental parts.

The premiere took place on 11 November 1925 at the national theatre in Brno, and was a complete success.

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