Leos Janacek is increasingly recognized as one of the major operatic masters of the early twentieth century. In Janacek beyond the Borders, Derek Katz presents an interpretive and critical study of Janacek's major operas that questions prevailing views of the composer's relationship to the Czech language and to Slavic culture and demonstrates that the operas are deeply indebted to various existing operatic traditions outside of the Czech-speaking realm. Katz discusses the implications for Janacek's operas of the composer's notorious "speech-melody" theories and of his fascination with Russia. He also points out revealing and persuasive parallels to certain major operas in non-Czech traditions -- French, Italian, and German -- that deserve notice and that demonstrate how the composer developed a practical operatic aesthetic through emulation and creative adaptation. In this fresh and novel approach, Katz goes beyond the normal evidentiary record (letters, sketches, and published writings) and allows Janacek's works to speak for themselves.
Derek Katz is Associate Professor of Music History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written about Czech music for American and European academic journals and for the New York Times.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 190
Weight: 431 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
An engaging and progressive work of musicology and music theory that is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. . . [This] meticulously researched monograph reads cleanly and swiftly. . . Katz's ability to trace Janacek's personal sense of being within the changing political climate of the Czech lands is uncanny. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES [John K. Novak]
Illuminating. . . Written in a broadly allusive but pleasingly unpretentious style. . . It's salutary to see a musicologist taking issue with the oft-revered pronouncements of Theodor Adorno, who managed to get Janacek conceptually wrong on every count. OPERA NEWS
Absolutely fascinating. On each subject treated in one chapter after another, Derek Katz reveals remarkable creativity. . . The topic is ambitious, the author brilliant, the reading captivating. FORUM OPERA [Nicolas Derny]
Derek Katz's fine book is must reading for anyone with a serious interest in the operas of Janacek and his place in the development of European operatic and musical traditions. Katz trenchantly deconstructs and reassesses all the oft-repeated generalizations about Janacek's obsession with speech melodies and his role as an "old avant-gardist," folkorist, or iconoclastic modernist. The result is a more complex understanding of Janacek's compositions as products of a dynamic mix of musical, dramatic, and textual imperatives created with a keen awareness of Czech and international operatic and compositional traditions. --Gary B. Cohen, Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities