Meditation on an Old Bohemian Chorale for String Quartet, Op.35
Suk's Meditation on an Old Bohemian Chorale holds an unique position in his oeuvre in that it was intended to ignite the smoldering Czech nationalist movement. It was written in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I which the Czechs hoped would finally destroy the Austrian Empire, of which they were a part, and lead to their independence. The Old Bohemian Chorale is none other than Svatý Václave (St. Wenceslas), the patron saint of Bohemia. Among the words to the mediaeval song is the rousing verse "Let not our nation and future generations perish." It is a four-part polyphonic work, flexible in its modulations with a free development.
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 formed what became the world famous Bohemian Quartet with three of his fellow students and played second violin with it 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.
This fine example of early Czech modernism has been unavailable for many decades and we are pleased to make it available once again.