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Karel Husa

Publisher: AMP

Music for Prague 1968 (for Orchestra) (1969)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
19 Minutes
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Programme Note
Karel Husa Music for Prague 1968 (for Orchestra) (1969)
Composer Note:

Three main ideas bind the composition together. The first and most important is an old Hussite war song from the 15th century, "Ye Warriors of God and His Law," a symbol of resistance and hope for hundreds of years, whenever fate lay heavy on the Czech nation. It has been utilized also by many Czech composers, including Smetana in My Country. The beginning of this religious song is anounced very softly in the first movement by the timpani and concludes in a strong unison (Chorale). The song is never used in its entirety.

The second idea is the sound of bells throughout; Prague, named also the City of "Hundreds of Towers," has used its magnificently sounding church bells as calls of distress as well as of victory.

The last idea is a motif of three chords first appearing very softly under the piccolo solo at the beginning of the piece, in flutes, clarinets and horns. Later it reappears at extremely strong dynamic levels, for example, in the middle of the Aria.

Different techniques of composing as well as orchestrating have been used in Music for Prague 1968 and some new sounds explored, such as the percussion section in the Interlude, the ending of the work, etc. Much symbolism also appears: in addition to the distress calls in the first movement (Fanfares), the unbroken hope ofthe Hussite song,sound of bells, or the tragedy (Aria), there is also the bird call at the beginning (piccolo solo), symbol of the liberty which the City of Prague has seen only for moments during its thousand years of existence.

-- Karel Husa

(It is the composer’s wish that his Foreword be printed in its entirety in all concert programs.)

  • Ensemble
    Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Barry Kolman
  • Ensemble
    Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic
    Vienna Modern Masters:
The evening's triumph came with guest conductor Karel Husa leading the Jacksonville Symphony through his masterly Music for Prague 1968. Filled with the tension of a Hitchcock film, Husa's 1969 work captures strife and heartbreak [with] ominous timpani, warlike snare drums, toxic trumpets and a chilling, robotic, cacophonous climax -- all combined to weave a disturbing but mesmerizing and riveting spell.
Rick De Yampert, Jacksonville News-Journal,01/01/0001
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