Josef Suk

Quasi Ballata


Un Poco Triste


Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op.17

Josef Suk (1874-1935) was born in Krecovice in southern Bohemia, then part of Austria. He studied piano, violin and organ with his father who served as village choirmaster. His exceptional talent led to his being enrolled at the Prague Conservatory in 1885 at the age of 11 where he first studied violin. Eventually, he became a composition student of Antonin Dvorak. He graduated in 1891,  and kept up a friendship with Dvorak, whose daughter he married in 1898. He formed what became the world famous Bohemian Quartet with three of his fellow students. Suk played second violin with the Quartet for most of his life. From 1922, he taught at the Prague Conservatory. Among his many students were the composer Bohuslav Martinu and  the pianist Rudolf Firkusny. Suk served as the Conservatory's director after 1924, on and off, until the end of his life.


The Four Pieces for Violin and Piano Op.17 were composed in 1900 for his friend and fellow violinist in the Bohemian String Quartet Karel Hoffmann. The structure of each piece is straightforward, however, the moods expressed in each varies widely. The opening of the first piece, Quasi Ballata, clearly shows the influence of Impressionism but at the same time, especially in its middle section is highly romantic. In the second piece, Appassionato, the cross rhythms which dominate the beginning and end of the piece are typical of Czech music from the late 19th century. The third piece, structurally though not tonally, follows the pattern Dvorak often used in his Dumka movements, alternating moods and tempi, combining the serious with lighter dance sections. The final piece, Burleska, is a show piece for the violin, a kind of perpetuum mobile and perhaps indicative of the fact that Suk expected all four pieces to be played at the same time.


Though Suk may have intended these pieces to have been performed together as a kind of recital suite, publishers never offered them together but sold them separately. While we offer each piece separately, we are pleased, for the first time, to offer them together. Certainly they make an excellent recital choice as they can clearly be performed separately or together.


Quasi Ballata $11.95
Appassionato $12.95
Un Poco Triste $9.95
Burleska $10.95
All Four Pieces $24.95





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