A Czech composer of opera (Jenufa, 1904) and orchestral, instrumental, and sacred vocal music utilizing folk elements; employed his own "speech melody" concept based on the Czech language. From an early age, Jancek believed that music should follow the natural rhythms of human speech, animals, and birds. He went on to produce works of a completely original sound that are romantic, delight in the natural, and have an "angular" and even ascetic quality and a rhythmic vitality, all at the same time. His best-known piece is probably the Sinfonietta, with its wonderfully tuneful brass writing. Among his many popular and masterly operas are the first, Jenufa; Katya Kabanova (1919), with its snow scenes sounding amazingly like contemporary pattern or minimalist music; and The Makropoulos Affair, about a 300-year-old woman spurning lovers. His string quartets seem to have no precedents in harmonic sense and development and are astonishing. The profound, even terrifying religiosity of the Slavonic Mass is almost indescribable. ~ Blue Gene Tyranny, RoviPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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