Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Karel Husa's Music for Prague 1968

On January 31, 1969, composer Karel Husa's Music for Prague 1968, written in response to the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia, was premiered in its wind band version by the Ithaca College Band, in Washington, D.C. Exactly one year later, the orchestral version was premiered with the composer conducting the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.


... "Music for Prague 1968 was the first of a triptych that Husa calls his three "manifests," scores intended to address serious issues of international concern. As he wrote in 1974: "musical notes become the sounds of protest; through these sounds music has its only power; it has no bullets or bombs or death danger; all it can do, perhaps, is warn what the future might be."

Apotheosis of this Earth was composed in 1971 as a prophetic warning about the dire consequences of humanity's rape of the environment. In his preface to the score Husa declares: "Man's brutal possession and misuse of nature's beauty -- if continued at today's reckless speed -- can lead to catastrophe."...

The third "manifest" is a dramatic work, a ballet based on the Euripides play The Trojan Women. Here the ghastly toll exacted upon women and children by the ravages of war is played out upon the stage, evoking our horror and pity. Transcending the limitations of language, The Trojan Women delivers its urgent message in a primal union of music and gesture. William Mootz wrote in the Louisville Courier-Journal (29 March 1981): "Like the play, the ballet is a protracted lament for the victims of war. It is a desolate, angry and disturbing piece of theater, and it moves to a moving climax with imagination and unmistakable artistic authority." ...

Source: Byron Adams "Karel Husa: Composer Essay" © 1997 Associated Music Publishers, Inc. http://www.schirmer.com/composers/husa_essay.html

Soviet Invasion of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in August 1968. The three Soviet tanks are arrayed in front of Prague's National Museum.

Photo credit: encarta.msn.com


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