Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–1940)
Military Sinfonietta Op. 11

Conductor: Richard Hein
State Opera Orchestra
From the private correspondance of Vížězslava Kaprálová reads Taťjana Medvecká.

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from 23/06/2021
5.00 pm
Prague, State Opera
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About the Programme

Kapralova wrote the Military Sinfonietta op. 11 as her graduation composition in1937 and she dedicated it to the Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš. The work was first performed by the Czech Philharmonic under Kapralova's baton at a concert organized by the National Women's Council at Lucerna Hall in Prague on 26 November 1937. Due to the great success Kapralova opened with this piece the ISCM festival in London (1938) - performed by the BBC Orchestra.

Thanks to the published correspondence of Vítězslava Kaprálová Letters Home, correspondence with parents in 1935-1940 (Toronto: THE KAPRALOVA SOCIETY, ©2015), we can read about the premiere of the composition.

Letters No. 66 and 72

I am sitting in my flat (with my dog Dezik next to me), shattered and glad that it is over. Not so much the concert itself, I wouldn’t mind doing it again, but the travel, the running around, the arguments with Mrs. Plamínková, etc. Don’t forget to send me all the reviews, the German ones in particular. I’m still in love with the President, and feel desperate that I probably won’t get to see him any time soon. I’ll describe to you, primarily Dad, how I got to meet him – so once more: When the servant ushered me in, he was in discussion with a secretary of the Women’s Council who talked at length about this year’s programme or something like that. When she finished, Mrs. Plamínková took me by the shoulder and said: “Mr. President, I’d like to introduce to you our composer and conductor.” Mr. President bowed, and I said: “Mr. President, I don’t know what to say to you, perhaps just that today I feel like I am heaven.”He laughed, shook my hand and passed me on to Mrs. Hana, to whom I said how honoured I was to meet her. Whereupon accountants and other staff began talking in that dreary official language, yet suddenly Mr. President, without hearing them out, stepped out of the circle (I was modestly standing in the back, with my eyes glued to him, half smiling and half “crying”) and approached me. He said he had to thank me for the dedication. He said he’d liked it, yet added that “we must wait for what the experts write in the press.” Flabbergasted at his walking away in the middle of their talk, Mrs. Plamínková again edged in (posturing between him and me), and resumed her fascinating babble. And then came the nicest moment, one I simply can’t hope to describe properly. Mr. President covertly sighed and gave me a naughty, impish look – evidently conveying: Gah, what affliction with the ladies, but he who goes to war must fight, even when facing a soldier as fearsome as Senator Plamínková. With a deadly serious expression, he stood to attention. I found the two contrasts quite comical – first the roguishness, then the solemnity – which made me laugh, and he saw me giggling behind Mrs. Plamínková’s back. Then, all of a sudden, he interrupted her for the third time, saying: “Senator, draw up all the reports for me, and we will see what can be done,” and circumventing her, he returned to me and started to converse as follows: “You used to be a pupil of Novák’s, didn’t you.” “Yes, indeed. – Now I am living in Paris.” “Oh??” “Yes, I received a scholarship from the French government, so I’m breathing some of the international air.” “How nice! Keep it up then, so I hear about you again. Lastly – farewell and have a great time.” He held my hand for about 5 minutes, cordially shaking it, while I just stared and stared, and really was in heaven. Mrs. Hana too shook my right hand once more, and Mr. President left. He impressed me so much that I would like to dedicate to him all my pieces, so many that he would have to officially prohibit my composing.

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