Piano Quintet in a minor, Op.12
It seemed unlikely that Vitĕzslav Novák (1870-1949) 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 Dvorak 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. He was to become a leading proponent of the Czech nationalism in music in the generation after Dvorak and Smetana.
The The Piano Quintet in a minor is the first of a series of works from his so-called Moravian period and was composed in 1897. The work shows his enchantment with Moravia and its folk melodies some of which are included in this work. The first theme of the opening movement is based on the folksong Hear the Earth tremble and moan while the middle movement is based on a 15th century Moravian love song O Elsa, lovely Elsa, while the main theme of the third movement is a paraphrase from a Moravian wedding song.
Here is another important work that belongs in the repertoire, but is well within the range of amateurs. It combines Slavic romanticism with beginnings of modern tonalities. Unavailable for many years, we are pleased to reintroduce it.