"The Sweet Sounds of Suk, Part 1"
MUSIC: Suk: clip from opening of Serenade for Strings, First
Movement, performed by Cappella Istropolitana, conducted by James Brooks
Bruzzese [Echoes of Habsburg at Summerfest , track 11] [under the following]
Do you have any idea who wrote this beautiful, romantic music? If you guessed
Dvorak, you would be incorrect, but about as close as you can get to being right
while still being wrong!
The music is the opening of the Serenade for Strings by Josef Suk [YO-zef
Sook], who lived from 1874 to 1935. He was not only Dvorak’s favorite pupil, but
also his son-in-law, having married Dvorak’s daughter.
MUSIC: fades out
Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and our
theme for the next hour is “The Sweet Sounds of Josef Suk, Part 1.” We’ll hear
Suk’s complete Serenade for Strings in Part 2. During this hour we’ll
start with Suk’s very successful opus one, his Quartet for Piano, Violin,
Viola and Cello. Then, in case you think that was just beginner’s luck,
we’ll move on to his equally beautiful opus two, his Trio for Piano, Violin
and Cello. After that we’ll jump ahead to his opus 23 and listen to his
romantic, melodic Elegy for Piano, Violin and Cello. And we’ll conclude
the hour with the scherzo movement from Suk’s Quintet for Piano, two violins,
viola and cello.
All of this music comes from one compact disc, a real compact discovery for me,
called “Josef Suk Chamber Works, Volume 2.” It is on the Supraphon label, which
is made in the Czech Republic. The recording features the Suk Trio and the Suk
Quartet. Let’s get started with the Piano Quartet right now, and I’ll
tell you more about Joseph Suk later on. The pianist is Jan Panenka [Yan
MUSIC: Suk: Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello in A
Minor, Op. 1, performed by the Suk Quartet with Jan Panenka at the piano
[Supraphon 11 1532-2 131, tracks 5, 6 and 7]
Josef Suk’s Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello in A Minor, Opus 1.
You heard the Suk Quartet with Jan Panenka on the piano. The cellist in the Suk
Quartet is Michaela Fukacová [Meesh-a-ella Fu-KA-shova]. Jan Talich [Yan TAL-ich
(guteral “ich”)] is the violist. And Josef Suk is the violinist.
Knowing that this is an all-digital, modern recording, how is it possible that
Josef Suk, the composer and famous violinist who died in 1935, is the violinist
on this CD? Well, I’ll give you one hint: Antonin Dvorak was this Josef
Suk’s great-grandfather. Talk about having music in your blood!
More about Josef Suk, the composer, after this piece of his, the Trio
for Piano, Violin and Cello in C Minor, Opus 2. This is from the same
Supraphon compact disc, although this time it’s the Suk Trio rather than the Suk
MUSIC: Suk: Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C Minor, Op.
2, performed by the Suk Trio [Supraphon, tracks
1,2 and 3] [15:30]
Josef Suk’s Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C Minor, Op. 2, performed
by the Suk Trio.
You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman,
and this hour is devoted to “The Sweet Sounds of Josef Suk, Part 1.” All the
music you are hearing is from the same Supraphon compact disc, which was
generously supplied for this program by ArkivMusic.com.
[optional one-minute break not included in total timing]
Josef Suk was greatly influenced by his teacher and father-in-law, Antonin
Dvorak, and he suffered tremedous personal loss from the deaths of both Dvorak
in 1904 and his own wife just one year later, after only about seven years of
marriage. This resulted in his nervous breakdown. When he recovered he completed
his second symphony, which he dedicated to the memory of his wife and
father-in-law. But I prefer his chamber music to the orchestral pieces I’ve
heard, with the exception of his Serenade for String Orchestra, which
I’ll play for you in “The Sweet Sounds of Suk, Part 2.”
Suk’s Elegy for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 23, which we’ll hear next,
is a shortened version of a piece of the same name composed for a larger number
of instruments in 1902, two year’s before Dvorak’s death. It was written to
commemorate the death of a poet, writer and dramatist: Julius Zeyer [YU-lee-oos
ZAY-er]. It is performed here, once again, by the Suk Trio.
MUSIC: Suk: Elegy for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 23,
performed by the Suk Trio [Supraphon 11 1532-2 131, track 4]
Josef Suk’s Elegy for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 23, performed by the
Josef Suk is probably not better known as a composer because he didn’t compose
all that much: only 37 works of his have opus numbers. During his lifetime he
was equally, if not more, famous as second violinist in the Czech String Quartet
for four decades. As if that weren’t enough to do, in 1922 he was appointed
professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory. So he seemed to keep happy,
or at least not suffer as much from the loss of his wife and his father-in-law,
by keeping so busy he didn’t have time to think about it.
And, speaking of time, we’ll have just enough of it to conclude this hour with
the scherzo movement from Suk’s Quintet for Piano, Two Violins, Viola and
Cello. Pavel Stepán [SHTAI-fahn] is the pianist with the Suk Quartet.
MUSIC: Suk: Quintet for Piano, Two Violins, Viola and Cello,
performed by the Suk Quartet and pianist Pavel Stepán [Supraphon 11 1532-2 131,
track 10] [5:48]
The Scherzo movement from Josef Suk’s Quintet for Piano, Two Violins, Viola
and Cello. Pavel Stepán was the pianist with the Suk Quartet.
That brings to an end this hour of Compact Discoveries, which I call “The
Sweet Sounds of Suk, Part 1” but which could have been called “The Sweet Sound
of Suk-sess,” if I weren’t so serious about this gorgeous music. In any case, I
could only fit in about half of the music I wanted to in this hour, which is the
raison d’être or excuse for Part 2. I’ve saved Suk’s most famous piece for
the second hour, his Serenade for Strings. And you’ll also hear some
romantic, melodious piano music as well as two beautiful pieces for violin and
piano. I hope you’ll be listening!
MUSIC: Suk: clip from “Intermezzo - Folk Dance” from Fairy Tale
“Pohádka,” Op. 16, performed by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie conducted by
Alun Francis [SPO 999 576-2, track 3] [under the following]
I’m Fred Flaxman hoping also that you enjoyed the selections in this hour and
that you’ll let me hear from you about this or other Compact Discoveries
programs. I can be reached through the Compact Discoveries
website: www.compactdiscoveries.com. The website is the place to go for complete
information on these programs, including scripts and playlists. You’ll also find
there a whole bunch of Compact Discoveries
articles, a list of public radio stations carrying the program, links to those
stations’ websites, and listener reaction. The website is also the place to
visit to provide your ideas for themes for future programs.
I’d like to thank ArkivMusic.com for supplying the music for this hour, and
Wilma Anyzova [Vilma aNEEjova] of the cultural section of the Czech Embassy in
Washington, D.C., for her help with Czech pronunciation.
Compact Discoveries is distributed internationally by the Public Radio
Exchange, and Compact Discoveries
programs can be streamed on demand at their website: www.prx.org. This program
was produced in Weaverville, North Carolina. It was made possible by the
financial support of members of public radio station WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach,
MUSIC: fades out at 57:30
ANNOUNCER: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story
Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and
edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor dot com,
b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com.... and by... Educate Yourself for Tomorrow, an
on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development,
including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at
PROGRAM ENDS AT 58:00
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