Leoš Janáček: Suite

  • for orchestra
  • 2 2 2 2 - 3 2 0 0 - timp, tr, hp, str
  • Duration: 16’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    timpani
    triangle
    harp
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
  • Composer: Leoš Janáček
  • Preface: Bohumír Stédron
  • Table of contents:
    Con moto
    Adagio
    Allegretto (Pozehnaný)
    : Con moto (Allegro) [Dymák]

Work introduction

Janá?ek's Suite op. 3 was composed some time in 1891 and first performed on 23 September, 1928, by the combined Prague and Brno radio orchestras, on the occasion of the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture. The conductor was Bretislav Bakala. The orchestral parts are preserved in the Janá?ek Archives in the Musical History Department of the Moravian Museum in Brno.

The Orchestral Suite is belonging to the group of folkloristic works. The designation, Suite, or even Serenade, op. 3, arose after the composer's death, when it was first performed in its entirety. Nor are the authors unanimous as to the date of composition of Suite.

According to Helfert’s entry in Pazdirek’s Dictionary of Music, it was written some time in 1890 and completed in January, 1891, but in 1he parts which have been preserved the date of its completion is not noted, nor in the correspondence which we so far possess is there any mention of Suite. In my view, therefore, Suite was composed subsequent to “The Beginning of a Novel”, which was completed on July 7, 1891. I base this view on the fact that the first two parts of Suite are taken from “The Beginning of a Novel”. The first part is similar to Scene V of the opera, in which Toník sings solo and is then joined by Poluška. The second part of the Suite, the Adagio, is taken from No. 14 of the same opera, marked Moderato. I consider it unlikely that Janá?ek would first write the two parts of Suite, and then insert a dramatic song based on the libretto for “The Beginning of a Novel”. Thus the whole Suite was most probably composed after the opera had been completed, that is, after July 2, 1891. That, however, does not preclude the possibility that the last two parts of the Suite arose previous to the first two parts. The third part of the Suite is the Lachian dance, Pozehnany (The Blessed one), which was finished towards the end of 1890 and performed on January 7, 1891, in Brno. The fourth and last part is the Lachian dance, Dymák (The Smoke Demon), composed to another tune than in the present form of the Lachian Dances.

These parts were linked up by Janá?ek to form his Suite, each part being designated by nothing more than the tempo: Con moto, Adagio, Allegretto, Con moto.

The varying origin of the compositions, their arrangement and the style of the different parts would point to the Suite being an occasional composition to which only the folk-music character of the whole gives a certain unity.

Bohumír Št?dro?

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