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Josef Suk

born: 1874-01-04
died: 1935-05-29
birthplace: Krecovice u Neveklova
diedplace: Benesov u Prahy

Czech violinist, pedagogue and composer of the transition period of romanticism and modern music of the XXth Century. Pupil and son-in-law of Antonin Dvorak. Musical laricist and together with V.Novak, the most remarkable representative of Dvorak's composition School. He studied violin under A. Bennewitz (1885-1892), composition under K. Stecker and A. Dvorak (1891-92) and chamber performance under H.Wihan at the Conservatory of Prague. In 1892 he founded Czech Quartet with three of his schoolmates and played there until the end of the band in 1933. In 1922 he became the professor of the Master's School of the Prague Conservatory. Among his schoolmates was also B. Martinu.

Suk's music was based on the style of romaticists and Antonin Dvorak most of all. Among his early works, the most remarkable are Violin Serenade in E Flat Major (written in 1892 in his age of 18) and scenic music for dramatic tale of Julius Zeyer "Raduz and Mahulena" (1898) which he adjusted for concert performance under the name of "The Tale" (1899). He also wrote piano compositions, chamber music (String Quartet No. 1 in B Flat Major, 1896), chorals on the lyrics of Slavonic traditional poetry, and orchestral works. A hard life period of 1904-5 (lost of his father-in-law Antonin Dvorak and then his wife Otilie) caused a sharp hreak in his musical work.
He reacted by writing big orchestral works with meditative and philosophical content: symphony Asrael (1906), musical poem Pohadka leta (A Summer Tale, 1909), symphonical poem Zrani (Growing Mature, 1917), Epilogue for solos, choirs and orchestra (1920-1933). At this stage Suk gets influenced by modern musical trends (e.g. impressionism in the Summer Tale); by his own way he comes to similar musical means asi the expressionists and becomes the co-founder of the modern Czech music of the beginning of 20th Century.
Occasionally, he still came back to small compositions of simpler structure (Meditation on the Old-Czech choral St. Wenceslaus for string quartet, also piano works and more chorals).


Mala encyklopedie hudby (Little Musical Encyclopedia by dr. Jar. Smolka; & col., Supraphon 1983)
Kniha o hudbě (Book of Music by V.Holzknecht and col., Orbis 1964)


Serenade for String Orchestra in E Flat Major / 1892 (MP3) (Prague Chamber Philharmony, cond. Jakub Hrusa, Supraphon 2006)
A Tale / 1899 (MP3) (violin solo, rec. by Josef Suk Jr., grandson of the cmposer, with Suk's Trio, CD Best of Classic. OMV 1999)
O matince, op.28 / 1909 (MP3) (Of Mother, Part 1. When Mother Was a Little Girl, rec. Ivan Moravec piano, Supraphon 2000)

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Last update 2012-07-04