Music is for me the art of conveying the finest thrills of the soul.
Agnieszka Sciazko — violin · PATRON OT THE CONCERT | photo: Milan Mošna
‘Springtime in spirit, springtime in music’ or ‘Josef Suk and his love for Otilka Dvořáková’
“Oh, my dear Joe, how I like him. Annie, please, if he would come to us, try to know from him if he still likes me. But you must ask him clever” writes Otilka (in English) to her sister Anna in one of her letters. Suk, Dvořák’s pupil at the Prague Conservatoire, met her when she was fourteen, just before Dvořák’s departure for America. His love for this inspiring being, one of the few siblings (or possibly the only one) to whom some talent for music and even for poetry had been passed on from the father, is fully reflected in one of Suk’s best known and celebrated compositions – in music to Zeyer’s play Radúz and Mahulena. “I was working on this piece in a small wooded courtyard in Vysoká, where the Dvořáks spend their summers. In the little room was an upright piano and outside in the garden, my girlfriend Otilka listened to my music. Springtime in spirit, springtime in music…” is how Josef Suk recalled this idyllic time of his life. It was most probably exactly this work that convinced the father Dvořák to give Otilka to Suk. “That Radúz, that’s music from heaven“, he allegedly claimed. The wedding took place on 17 November 1898, the day of the wedding anniversary of Antonín Dvořák and Anna Čermáková.
The happy time, however, did not last long for the young couple. After a joyful event in 1901, when their son Josef was born, came the blows of fate. In 1904 during the Spanish tour with the Czech Quartet, Suk received a telegram with a devastating message: “Return immediately. Dvořák died”. His speedy return to Prague was compounded by fear for his wife, who after giving birth was diagnosed with a heart condition. “Not only devastated to the core of my being, I was also consumed by fear: how will Otilka’s poor heart react...”, recalled Suk. The impact of Dvořák’s death did indeed have a terrible effect on Otilka. She unburdens her pain in verses: “My beloved, dearest, noble, can you feel the hot gush of tears, that flow down my face like a huge river and in pain carve their path, deep in my cheeks? My soul calls for you, my heart remembers those beautiful moments, when it quivered with love upon your hand’s stroke. (…) My longing for you will one day quieten down and I shall sleep next to you the eternal dream. Then I shall find comfort, my beloved, dear – noble”. The chords noted down next to the individual stanzas suggest that she wanted to set the poem to music, yet it never happened. Otilie Dvořáková-Suková died in the early hours of 6 July 1905 in Křečovice, the place of Suk’s birth, a mere 27 years of age.
“Music by no less than three Czech prominent composers will be presented in the fifth PKF – Prague Philharmonia Chamber series concert. Do not miss this cross-section of Czech music from supreme Romanticism to Neo-Classicism, performed by Lukáš Pospíšil, Marek Šedivý and Kaspar Zehnder!”
This PKF — Prague Philharmonia chamber series concert will offer its audience beautiful music played by the most accomplished musicians. I got to know Marek Šedivý as a conductor, when I had several opportunities to play under his leadership. I look forward to seeing him on the stage performing as pianist. The piano is with its range a kind of small orchestra. So if Marek dominates the keyboard as he does the orchestra with his conductor’s baton, it will be a truly beautiful musical experience. No doubt will he be further inspired by the principal cello, Lukáš Pospíšil, and his honeyed sound and excellent cello technique.
Together they will play for you works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Antonín Dvořák and Josef Suk. The concert programming is excellent. The transparent and clear Beethoven with his twelve variations will get us in a pleasant mood. After that through Adagio and Allegro by Robert Schumann we shall move on to Czech composers. To hear Antonín Dvořák and his pupil Josef Suk one immediately after the other will be certainly very interesting. Especially as Dvořák’s Rondo in G Minor belongs to his late works, and is followed by the early Ballade and Serenade by Josef Suk. Mutual inspiration and influences will be certainly heard.
The concert will conclude with the Flute Trio in F major by another significant Czech composer, Bohuslav Martinů. The excellent Swiss flautist and conductor Kaspar Zehnder will be the concert’s guest interpreter. The evening will be in fact dominated by interpreters – conductors!
Agnieszka Sciazko — patron of the concert
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
12 Variations on ‘See the conqu'ring hero comes’ WoO 45
Adagio and Allegro Op. 70
Polonaise in A major
Silent Woods (Waldesruhe) Op. 68
Rondo in G minor Op. 94
Ballade and Serenade Op. 3
Trio in F major for Flute, Violoncello and Piano H 300
Lukáš Pospíšil — violoncello
Marek Šedivý — piano
Guest: Kaspar Zehnder — flute