Vítězslav Novák

Vítězslav Novák (1870-1949)

Nationality: Czech | Bohemian
Born: December 5, 1870, Kamenice nad Lipou Died: July 18, 1949, Skuteč (age 78)

String Quartet No. 3 in G major, Op. 66

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
10:22 I. Allegro risoluto
15:47 II. Lento doloroso
Duration: 27 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1938 (age 67-68)
2 recordings, 4 videos
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Vlach Quartet
I. Allegro risoluto
Vlach Quartet
II. Lento doloroso
Novák Quartet
I. Allegro risoluto
Novák Quartet
II. Lento doloroso
From Edition Silvertrust

Vitĕzslav Novák Novák made several attempts to begin his third string quartet, first in 1928, but he found that his material did not satisfy him. Throughout the 1930s, he kept trying. He noted in his memoirs that he found it very difficult to return to the genre of chamber music after a hiatus of three decades and he was concerned that what he wrote might damage what reputation and prestige he had gained from his earlier works. Finally in 1938, he began work on it. The Quartet is in two large movements. The opening movement, Allegro risoluto is a kind of rondo based on Moravian and Slovakian themes. In the middle there is what begins as a light-hearted fugue. However, the music eventually turns into something Novak likened to a dark dance on a thundering volcano. This was because he could not ignore the dire political situation with Nazi Germany threatening Czechoslovakia's very existence. The second movement, Lento doloroso, is a sad passacaglia. There is a sense of resignation, which Novak recalled was his feeling over lost youth as well as his fear of the future for his country.

Vitĕzslav Novák (1870-1949) is widely regarded as one of the leading proponents of the Czech nationalism in music in the generation after Dvořák and Smetana. However, as a youth, it seemed unlikely that he would become a musician having begun by hating music as a result of being brutally forced to study the violin and the piano as a young child. But a fascination for composition, which he discovered in his teens, led to his decision to enter the Prague Conservatory, where he studied with Dvořák among others. Dvorak's example of using Czech folk melody in his music to foster the nationalist cause at a time when the Czech and Slovak peoples were seeking statehood from Austria encouraged the young composer to follow this path. After graduating from the Conservatory in 1896, he traveled to eastern Moravia and Slovakia where the local folk melodies he found served as a source of inspiration for him.

This is a very powerful and emotive work which reflects the mood of the times.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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