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Or is Czech piano music like the Czech language - impenetrable, and you don't want to hear a non-Czech singer sing Janáček's Káťa Kabanová, for instance (or at least, I don't whistle) - so you leave it to those born & bred there, because you just can't fathom its idiom?

Though Dvořák's orchestral music (and Song to the Moon wink ) is popular, his piano music is much less so - after all, his Slavonic Dances (once very familiar, especially in domestic settings) require more than one pianist, and these days, they're hard to come by cry .......though most of us have played this when we were kids (though possibly not in the original key, nor all the original notes):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_wEjQY9-Ko

But how about Smetana and Martinů?
Personally, I find these quite irresistible - starting with the insouciance of the first polka:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbVty1eWyKU

....and this is a great virtuosic alternative to a hackneyed Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody or Paraphrase:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_CMMjOZXBU

....as would this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-tO2k6-jD0

These days, it seems only Janáček's piano music gets performed (- very occasionally) and recorded, but though as folk-like tone pictures, In the Mists, On an Overgrown Path etc are marvellous, sometimes one just wants something with a lot more notes and with more bombast (at least, I do smirk ) to give the fingers some exercise opportunities (not to be sniffed at these days) yet which is completely different to Freddy, Francis et al. - like a slightly familiar yet unfamiliar language.

As I discovered when I started playing through the music mentioned above, from old sheet music and volumes that I accumulated over the years.

So, any takers?


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There is quite a bit of Dvorak solo piano, although much of it has been transcribed for other instruments, especially the Humoresques, the Waltzes, and the American Suite. There is also more duet music: the Legends should not be ignored.

Vorisek and Tomaschek should be on your list if you want to look at classical composers. (Frankly, most people never get beyond Mozart, Beethoven, and maybe Haydn from the classical period.)

Of course, the best-known Czech piece can be played on a piano, but it is better with enhancements.


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Never knew the original source of that popular piece. Interesting - thanks for sharing it !! (Where's the circus?)

Last edited by Carey; 02/20/21 01:37 PM.

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There are a number of Czech composers which i really like and play regularly. Smetana i really enjoy. He has a number of pieces really easy and nice like the very short Bagatelles and impromptus.

https://youtu.be/NY_rKepnxg0

I like playing the sonatas of Xaver Dusek, who knew Mozart. They are interesting pieces.

Anton Reicha, wonderful composer, some of his fugues are really extraordinary.

Or also Josef Suk. The opus 7 is great.


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Don’t know much about solo piano Czech music, but there is a great Smetana sonata in e- for 8 hands, that I’ve worked on. It’s a really nice piece. To me has a Schubertian sound, with elements kind of similar to the f minor Fantasie.

Argerich and friends played it at Verbier, I think, though the following is at a different venue


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mqvJt52dUBk

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Played the Janacek Sonata back in 2015 and it's an absolute masterpiece. Deeply troubling music, but worth the struggle to learn and perform:

https://youtu.be/JFwjtMGIuNw

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The Dvorak Humoresque cycle Op 101 is lovely, with #7 being quite famous.

While not piano solo, the Dumky Trio is a great piano trio.

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Czech it out!

Cheers!


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I’m all about Dussek though not quite Czech in the Smetana, Janáček sense of the word. A First Viennese School sound but also mixed with a thinking very much outside the box, and his music is all the more lovely for it. Very influential and seemed to run into everybody.

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A single Pole trumps them all! wink


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Originally Posted by BDB
Vorisek and Tomaschek should be on your list if you want to look at classical composers.
Thanks for reminding me: I have Artur Pizarro's superb CD set of Voříšek's piano music, which I bought in the Dark Ages (pre-internet) so I couldn't get hold of any of the scores to try it out then. Though his music is not particularly Czech-inflected (whatever 'Czech-inflected' means - any Czech PW members to help us out?), so not particularly distinctive from Beethoven or Hummel, for example.

I might just download scores from IMSLP to have a go.

Those CDs are now on YT, if anyone's interested. Here is the first:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15EF-AWlX00


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Originally Posted by Brendan
Played the Janacek Sonata back in 2015 and it's an absolute masterpiece. Deeply troubling music, but worth the struggle to learn and perform:
I agree about 1.X.1905 being a masterpiece, but it always sounded incomplete to me, so I never thought of learning it - I keep wondering what the finale's Funeral March would have sounded like and how it would change the weight of the preceding movements......and thus the whole work.

After all, this isn't like Berg running out of inspiration for his Sonata's subsequent movements.... whistle


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Originally Posted by Brendan
Played the Janacek Sonata back in 2015 and it's an absolute masterpiece. Deeply troubling music, but worth the struggle to learn and perform:

https://youtu.be/JFwjtMGIuNw
The opening of that is unbearaby sad.

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You bet! I'm currently working on Dvorak's Polka in Dmi Op39 #2 and his Waltz Op 54 #4

In "Dances for Piano" ( Schirmer )

I first heard the Polka orchestrated, and loved it ever since.


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I have a book of Dvorak's piano music which I haven't used for a while. All rather nice, and of course 'that humoresque' is irresistible.


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I have two volumes of music by Czech composers: Dvorak's "Silhouettes" Op. 8, and a collection of piano music of Josef Suk.

Apparently Suk studied under Dvorak at one point and Wikipedia reports that Suk's music was partly influenced by that of his teacher.

I have read through some of the Dvorak and it has never inspired me to go further. That's not saying much since this is only one opus. The Suk volume has a piece, "Liebeslied" Op. 7, which I must have wanted to work on at one time, because I have an extra copy of it slipped inside the Suk volume.

Perhaps I'll look through these works again.

Regards,


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The Dvorak book I have is this one : https://www.editionpeters.com/product/selected-piano-pieces/ep4676
I found it many years ago at an 'Antique Fair' in Peterborough along with the John Field Nocturnes (oh, and such delights as 'Mona Lisa,' 'My Blue Heaven,' a piano arrangement of 'One Fine Day' or whatever it's called in Italian, 'Tiger Rag'....and a few more who's names escape me). Actually, both books have been well-used, are falling apart and really need replacing - with the internet it's a lot easier to find these things than it used to be (when I were a lad etc.) so I can just order them instead of scouring the country like I used to!

Last edited by petebfrance; 02/22/21 04:05 PM.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
I have two volumes of music by Czech composers: Dvorak's "Silhouettes" Op. 8, and a collection of piano music of Josef Suk.

Apparently Suk studied under Dvorak at one point and Wikipedia reports that Suk's music was partly influenced by that of his teacher.

I have read through some of the Dvorak and it has never inspired me to go further. That's not saying much since this is only one opus.

Originally Posted by petefrance
I've ordered the Dover book of piano works from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antonin-Dvorak-Humoresques-Other-Works/dp/0486283550
......as I just realised that the only piano music of Dvořák I have is that famous G flat Humoresque (in an anthology volume of miscellaneous student pieces).

Let's see how fun his music is to play...... whistle

I've never found Suk's music sufficiently distinctive, unlike Smetana's and Martinů's, though I do like his Asrael Symphony.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by BruceD
I have two volumes of music by Czech composers: Dvorak's "Silhouettes" Op. 8, and a collection of piano music of Josef Suk.

Apparently Suk studied under Dvorak at one point and Wikipedia reports that Suk's music was partly influenced by that of his teacher.

I have read through some of the Dvorak and it has never inspired me to go further. That's not saying much since this is only one opus.

Originally Posted by petefrance
I've ordered the Dover book of piano works from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antonin-Dvorak-Humoresques-Other-Works/dp/0486283550
......as I just realised that the only piano music of Dvořák I have is that famous G flat Humoresque (in an anthology volume of miscellaneous student pieces).

Let's see how fun his music is to play...... whistle

I've never found Suk's music sufficiently distinctive, unlike Smetana's and Martinů's, though I do like his Asrael Symphony.
Should be interesting. No Mazurkas, though - they turn up occasionally in the ABRSM books and are quite easy (I can play the ones I've come across, so that shows their level smile ) and quite different from Chopin's.


regards
Pete
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