Czechoslovakia Music Essay
Czechoslovakia has a rich cultural heritage and this country may be viewed as one of the cultural centers of Europe, which significance and contribution to European culture was, though, overshadowed by Western European cultures that tended to dominate. However, in actuality, Czechoslovakia culture was really rich and made a very significant contribution to the development of European culture and its achievement remained less-known than those of Western European countries mainly because of their political dominance. In fact, the contribution of Czechoslovakia into the development of music was particularly significant because this country had unique musical traditions and local artists and artisans created original musical instruments of the highest quality while such representatives of Czechoslovakia music as Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak, Leos Janacek, and many others left a noticeable heritage in the history of the world music.
Speaking about Czechoslovakia music, it is primarily necessary to point out that this country had strong traditions of folk music which actually became the basis for the further development of music in Czechoslovakia. Actually, the national folk music incorporated traditions and motives of the local population and, basically, it was characterized by the abundance of lyric motives, though Czechoslovakia folk music often born some sad and even gloomy motives that affected the mood of the audience dramatically.
Historically, Czechoslovakia was well-known as one of European centers of the production of musical instruments. In fact, this country had rich traditions of manufacturing musical instruments of the highest quality that were highly valued in Europe and in the world. Even nowadays, Czechoslovakian instruments are considered to be very good while some of its musical instruments created by the masters in the past are listed among the most expensive musical instruments of the world.
It should be pointed out that traditionally the Bohemia region was the major center of the musical instruments manufacturing. Basically, this region, as well as Czechoslovakia at large, was renowned for its string instruments. It is not a secret that some of the best world violins and cellos come from this part of the world. Moreover, famous Czechoslovakian guitars are still popular in the world and specialists highly appreciated the skills and talent of Czechoslovakian professionals. For instance, it is possible to name probably the most famous guitar brand of Czechoslovakia, Jolana which is still considered to be a very good brand and music professionals readily buy its guitars. However, Czechoslovakia is well-known only for its string instruments. In this respect, it should be said that Petrof pianos have been built in Hradec Krakowe since 1864 and these pianos were also considered to be among the best pianos in Europe. Furthermore, Amati of Kraslice has been in the instrument manufacturing business for over 180 years. This company is one of the world’s largest brass and woodwind manufacturers and is known especially for the quality of their saxophones. In general, to prove the fact that Czechoslovakia played a very important role in the music development and musical instrument manufacturing it is worthy of mention the fact that there were more than fifty companies producing musical instruments in Czechoslovakia before World War II and its traditions successfully survived till present days (Four Decades, 2006).
Naturally, in such a situation, Czechoslovakia could not have failed to develop its own music because local musicians had a very serious basis and local master created really good musical instruments of the highest quality. By the way the emergence of musical instrument manufacturing in Czechoslovakia may be viewed as evidence of its advancements in the field of music. At the same time, the fact that Czechoslovakia was situated near such renowned centers of the world music as Germany and Austria also contributed significantly to the progress of the national music which actually incorporated traditional Czechoslovakian motives and elements with classical traditions of European, mainly German and Austrian, music.
In this respect, it is necessary to underline that the greatest achievements of Czechoslovakian music are traditionally associated with such outstanding artists as Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak and Leos Janacek. These artists are traditionally viewed as nationalist artists because they focused their creative work on the national motive and their music incorporated traditions of Czechoslovakian music, including not only classical music but also folk music. At the same time, their works are very original and interesting. For instance, Smetana’s opera “Branibori v Cechach” has a historic plot, but the music does not represent a folk song. By the way, his operetta “The Bartered Bride” gained international approval and became very popular outside Czechoslovakia. This was a light opera with spoken dialogue in place of sung recitatives and it was performed in 1866 in Prague. However, gradually, this operetta was defined as a comic opera because it was slightly modified and finished by 1870. Often the opera’s overture and three dances are performed separately as parts of orchestral repertoire (Stolba, 138).
Antonin Dvorak is considered to be the most successful Czechoslovakian composer. He included Bohemian themes and elements into much of his music. Among his most outstanding works it is possible to name “The Slavonic Dances” (1879) and “The Slavonic Rhapsodies” (1880). Moreover, this artist worked not only in Czechoslovakia but also in the US, where he created his famous “Symphony No 9”. This symphony is scored for an orchestra of the following: 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (one doubling on cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in E and C, 2 trumpets in E,C and E flat, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, triangle, cymbals, and strings (Grout, 221). It is worthy of mention that this symphony remains one of the most popular even in the modern repertoire.
Thus, in conclusion it is possible to say that Czechoslovakian music is really noteworthy and I, in person, enjoy it very much because of its uniqueness. At first, it seems as if it is just a part of classical music created in a traditional European style where Germanic influences are quite strong but, as you listen this music, you understand that it is really different and along with the classical entourage you can notice the elements of Czechoslovakian folk music.