Bohuslav Martinů was one of the most prolific Czech composers of the 20th century. Of these, after Janáček, his music is the most frequently performed today. His output spanned virtual all music forms: opera ballet and choral works as well as symphonies, many concerti and a wide variety of chamber works. He trained in the Prague Conservatoire, but managed to get himself expelled from it twice, the first time for playing in an amateur orchestra without licence, and the second time "for incorrigible negligence". In his compositions, he experimented with many different musical styles, rejecting the romantic tradition of his early education.
In his 50th anniversary year, the best place to go to hear Martinů's work will be the Prague Spring Festival, where you will hear a host of his chamber and orchestral music.
Opera by Martinů will be heard in a number of places: Garsington is putting on six performances of Mirandolina, while the Barbican is putting on a concert performance of Julietta. In Czech, Brno Opera will perform several performances of Tears of a Knife and Julietta in the spring.
You can read Simon Thomas's excellent article on Martinů operas here.
The National Museum of Prague will host an extensive exhibition about the composer's life and work (Details here).
The Prague National Theatre will host an exhibition Martinu at the National Theatre from April 26th to December.
A musicological conference will be dedicated to his work entitled Continuity of Change: Bohuslav Martinů in 20th Century Music History (details on www.martinu.cz).
At his birthplace, Polička, the Municipal Museum and Gallery will hve an exhibition opening on April 4th (www.muzeum.policka.net).
A Martinů mobile exhibition will be touring Europe:
- Brussels, Czech Centre: 15th January to 9th February
- Berlin, Czech Centre: 20th February to 20th March
- Budapest, Palace of Arts, 20th March to 6th April
- Paris: Paris Conservatory, 7th April to 13th May
- Luxembourg, Embassy of Czech Republic, 19th May to 20th May
- Prague, Czech Museum of Music 12th May to 26th September
14th December 2008
Photo of Martinů in garden reprinted by kind permission of the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička