Czech composer. He settled in New York after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939. His music is voluble, richly expressive, and has great vitality. His works include the operas Julietta (1937) and The Greek Passion (1959), symphonies, and chamber music.
He studied violin at the Prague Conservatory 1906–13 while playing in the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1922 he took composition lessons with Joseph Suk at the Prague Conservatory and studied with Albert Roussel in Paris 1923–24, and wrote works influenced by jazz and neoclassicism. Operas with Czech subjects followed during the 1930s, and after arriving in the USA as a refugee in 1941 he confined himself largely to instrumental music. He remained in the USA until 1946, when he became professor of composition at Prague Conservatory, returning to the USA in 1948, where he taught at Princeton and the Berkshire Music Center. He chose not to return to Czechoslovakia after the communist takeover in 1948, and lived in Switzerland from 1957. His music is often neoclassical in style, enriched with Czech folk song melody, and with an emphasis on rhythm and counterpoint.
WorksOperaJulietta (1938); The Greek Passion (1961); ballets La revue de cuisine, Špalíček.
ChoralBouquet of Flowers, Field Mass for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra; The Epic of Gilgamesh, oratorio (1955).
Orchestral six symphonies (1942–53); concerto for double string orchestra, piano, and timpani (1938), tone-poem The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca (1955), Sinfonietta giocosa, Memorial to Lidice (1943), Tre Ricercari; five piano concertos (1934–57), two violin concertos, two cello concertos, oboe concerto and various other works for instruments and orchestra.
Chamber two piano quintets (1933, 1944), nonet for wind and strings, and much other chamber music, three cello and piano sonatas; Ritournelles, and other pieces for piano.
Martinů, Bohuslav Jan
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