composer, born on 3 July 1854 and died on 12 August 1928. He was from the Moravia
region, and Moravian
folk tunes often infect his work. He worked mainly in Brno
, the regional capital. His immensely beautiful works have become increasingly popular in recent decades (thanks in no small part to the championship of the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras
), and he is now ranked with the greatest. He has a very distinctive clamant
, pulsing brass
His operas (in Czech) include Jenůfa (1904), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924, based on a comic strip), Káťa Kabanová (1921), The Makropoulos Case (1926, after Karel Čapek), From the House of the Dead (1930, after Dostoyevsky), and The Excursions of Mr Brouček (1920).
The Glagolitic Mass (1926) and the Diary of One who Disappeared (1919) are choral works; orchestral works include Taras Bulba (1918, after Gogol), Sinfonietta (1926), and Blanik. Chamber works include the string quartets The Kreutzer Sonata (1923, after the Tolstoy short story about the Beethoven sonata), and Intimate Letters (1928).
This last is a passionate personal expression of his love for a young married woman, Kamila Stösslová. For many years he poured out his adoring heart to her, and she responded... in a kindly way. It is not known for certain whether they ever did or didn't. There are reasonably explicit passages in both his letters and his music, but these can equally well be explained by his being a fantasizing old goat spellbound by the dumpy, pleasant-enough Kamila, who received his professions, and was very friendly, but didn't properly appreciate his music. (The Intimate Letters were used in the soundtrack of the film version of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.)