of Act I
From the very
first note of the prelude, a new dramatic
note is struck:
continues with great agitation, as though
hectic preparations were going on for events
of great importance, of people rushing around,
of uncontrolled excitement.
associates this hectic prelude with the battle
preparations which, if we have read our programme
notes, we will know concern the historic battle
of Vikov, a battle in which Mr. Brouček will
not play the part of a hero.
(A) of No.
185 gives rise to a number of associated motifs
(notably the more aggressive sequence p. 164,
bars 23-28 (with chromatic tremolos) and on
stops abruptly as the curtain rises and we
hear voices from the Vikárka Inn discussing
secret underground passages. The music gets
a bit agitated as Mr. Brouček swears there
is a tunnel under the Vltava, but his motif
of excitement is turned into one of derision
and laughter by his sceptical cronies in the
A quiet, dreamy,
expressive melody accompanies Mr. Broučekís
exit from the inn (No. 186)
to be speeded
up a bit when he falls into the cellar: chromatic
scales accompany his stumbling around and
this more steady and harmonious music appears
when he turns the picture of King Václav and
is actually in the Jewel Room of the Karlštejn
phrase A of No. 186A can be traced back to
an earlier source, and is succeeded by further
variations (including repetitions of B, which
show that Brouček is still frightened) and
more so on p. 174 when he wonders if he has
had a stroke or something.
No. 186A becomes
more dignified as Brouček recognizes the portrait
of King Václav.
and patriotic speech of Svatopluk Cech is
an interpolation: it is introduced by a 618
accompaniment with this theme prominent
into Broučekís first appearance in the Old
Town Square): the aria, with its high, idealistic
sentiments and impressive patriotic instrumental
climax, stands as something quite apart from
the rest of the opera. No. 187 proves to be
a major theme in the whole work.
phrases similar to No. 185 occur as Brouček
tries to orientate himself into fifteenth-century
by the Councillor and the threatening of the
infuriated mob is accompanied by phrases like
Nos. 188 and 189:
No. 188 No.
to a feverish pitch of aggression, until the
bagpipers interrupt with the more suave No.
and the soldiers
lustily sing their hymn for victory (No. 191)
persist until Mr. Brouček "remembers"
he has spent many years in Turkey-country
of the half moon-when the bassoon tune-generator
of a hundred other melodies in the first part
of the opera-supports his "confession".
Much is made of 190 (A)-a kind of "V"
gesture of defiance-and as the Husite soldiers
and their supporters enter the church singing
the majestic No. 191, the orchestra plays
a version of No. 185 (A), later changing to
a tutti presentation of the bagpipe tune No.
190 (supported by many repetitions of the
four-note figure 185 (A)) as the curtain falls
on a scene of optimistic expectation.
of Act II
is sitting on a high bed with canopy, striped
bedding and sheets, in a room in the house
of his protector, Domšík. Through one window
the Town Hall and Old Town Square can be seen,
through another window the Týn church. The
window-panes are of round, small pieces of
glass, set in lead; a painted chest, stools
and pottery on a shelf denote the house of
a well-to-do citizen of the fifteenth century.
If it werenít
for all these fol-de-rols, muses Mr. Brouček,
he could imagine he was back at the Vikárka
Inn after a particularly jolly night out with
the boys. Well, if it turned out that he was
the first man to visit the moon, why should
he now grumble that he has had a backslide
to the fifteenth century? So long as nobody
is pushing him around with spurs, he might
as well gracefully accept the fact that he
is a Husite and leave it at that.
that as it may", he continues, making
an effort to think in the speech conventions
of the period, "dost think thou canst
make a fool out of me, Mr. Jan Žižka? Gad,
Sir, no! I refuse to allow mine flesh to be
carved up like a piece of raw beef. For what,
pray? What shall I get out of it? Join the
army of gentleman Janik? Not on your life,
Mr. Žižka!" At this point, his one-time housekeeper,
Mrs. Novak, now appearing as Mrs. Kedruta,
pushes her head through a door, crosses the
stage and exits through another door which
she bangs disapprovingly. "Damn the old
bitch!" exclaims Brouček irritably; "Here,
Mrs. Novak, what about bringing me some breakfast?"
and expresses surprise at finding his guest
still in bed. Mrs. Novak/Kedruta repeats her
performance, at which Brouček remarks that
she seems to be a very mixed-up old character.
Domšík insists that his guest should get dressed
immediately and wear the same clothes as the
rest of them.
"When in Rome,
do as the Romans do", Brouček mutters to himself
and steps into a pair of long pants of which,
to his disgust, one leg is blood-red and the
some difficulty in putting on the strange
garments in their right order: apron? cloak?
skirt? boots? head-dress of chainmail? But
humbly obeying his host, even to the point
of putting the red boot on the foot with the
green stocking, and vice versa, he eventually
gets himself dressed, although not without
a few sneering comments from Mrs. Kedruta,
at which Brouček snarls "Poisonous old
army, with the bagpipe accompaniment from
Act I, is heard in the distance, announcing
the end of the service in the Týn Church.
"Thy latest Pop tune, perhaps?", ventures
Mr. Brouček to his host, who replies that
his guest is certainly a quaint personage.
Kunka, enters excitedly, followed by a number
of their friends, who have all just come from
the church service. After mutual introductions,
Kunka repeats, for the benefit of her father
and Mr. Brouček (and, of course, for us),
part of the inspiring sermon preached by Jan
z Rokycan, at which her father shouts the
bloodthirsty war-cry of the Husites: "Kill
them! Kill them! Let no one escape our righteous
or unwittingly, Janáček and his librettist
made fools out of the lunar disciples of asceticism:
similarly here, when battle action is of the
most urgent immediacy, we have to listen to
a long and involved debate on the political
and religious background to the battle which
is imminent-as extreme a case of fiddling
while Rome is burning as one can conceive.
One of the
group, a student, dares to criticize the practices
of the Taborite priests as being contrary
to the doctrine of the Bible and the writings
of Mr. Hus himself, thus bringing on his juvenile
scholastic head the wrath of Domšík and his
fanatical battle-lusty friends.
himself unpopular with everyone when he states
that he doesnít care two pins one way or the
other which side wins: fighting is the business
of the army and as a civilian he certainly
has no intention of joining their ranks.
He is called
a dirty pagan, anti-Christ, and other disrespectful
names and the gang are beginning to give him
a roughhouse when Petrik, the boy-friend of
Domšíkís daughter, barges in with the exciting
news that Zikmundís army has crossed the Vltava.
There is a
hurried exit of the fighting patriots.
to fix up Brouček with an effective fighting
weapon are singularly unsuccessful, although
he finally decides to try a halberd.
From the distance
come the cries of the conflicting armies:
Kunka falls on her knees and prays for victory
and for the safe return of her father and
her lover. The words of the "Pater Noster"
blend with the heroic cries of the warriors,
the sound of guns firing, bells ringing and
people singing and shouting. Red flares of
fire are reflected in the sky.
In the midst
of all this tremendous excitement, as crowds
in hundreds mill into the Old Town Square,
Brouček slips quietly into the room, hurriedly
drags off his Husite uniform and dresses himself
again in his own nineteenth century clothes.
Observing this, Mrs. Kedruta abuses him roundly,
saying spitefully that she looks forward with
pleasure to the time when she will see him
As a desperate
cry arises from the throats of nearby Husites
for one-and-all to rise and defend their town
and nation, Brouček lights a cigar and runs
into another room.
Kunka comes in dejectedly, lays down her weapons
and drops on her knees.
scenes, we hear the voices of children rejoicing
and cheering the victors, and when the curtain
rises, we see and hear throngs of people welcoming
the victorious army of Prague citizens and
Taborites, led by Jan Žižka, riding in triumph
with his captains and leaders, after routing
the Crusader armies.
sun bathes everything and everyone in its
golden light. Even the children hold catapults,
bows and arrows and other simple implements
to the children that they should form a group
to bring bread and wine to their victorious
brothers. The crowd sing choral tributes to
the returned warriors: Petrik compares them
to David returning in triumph to Jerusalem
after slaying the giant Goliath.
priests, carrying holy implements of their
sacred calling, lead the procession to the
Týn Church, which includes Jan Žižka, escorted
by a host of his warriors in steel helmets,
and the teeming crowds of rejoicing citizens.
When the square
is all but deserted, we see Mr. Brouček running
out from Domšíkís house and, frightened at
what he sees, taking shelter under the lobby
of the house. He wears a cloak over his otherwise
normal nineteenth-century bourgeois suit of
actions are observed, however, by two Taborites,
one of whom asks him if he is wounded.
be that I have indeed received some internal
injury in the heat of battle", replies
the cautious Brouček, "or have in some
otherwise been stunned. "
Taborites point out that Mr. Broučekís cloak
is stained with blood and he is asked where
his weapon is.
rather hesitantly, soon warms to his subject
and with extravagant gestures, tells how he
plunged his sword into the side of a horse
ridden by one of Zikmundís soldiers, who was
attacking him. The horse bolted, but its flying
hooves struck and momentarily stunned him:
nevertheless, even weaponless, he pursued
and continued to attack the Crusaders. Just
at that moment, the great Žižka himself rode
by, and stopped his horse to speak to Brouček.
The situation, he explained, was bad, very
bad indeed, but with the help of heroes like
Mr. Brouček, he might yet hope to win the
lies get bigger and bigger, the ire of the
Taborites correspondingly increases: Petrik,
too, has been listening and he grips Brouček
ferociously by the shoulders, calling him
a venomous snake, a double-tongued liar, with
the soul of an old woman. The Councillor we
have previously seen in Act I comes forward:
"What strange uproar is this?" he
asks sternly, and commands Petrik to explain
Kunka, comes slowly and sadly from the house
and approaches her sweetheart. Her father
died, she explains sorrowfully, to bring destruction
to the AntiChrist, and she throws herself
into Petrikís arms.
God took from
off her head the crown of a loving father
and in his wisdom made her an orphan. "I
do not weep", she concludes as she returns
to the house, "because I know that my
dearest father lives in Heaven. "The
choir is heard softly singing within the Týn Church.
turns to the Councillor and tells him and
the crowd which has collected, the truth about
Broučekís battle adventures. Brouček advanced
with their formation out of the Spital gate,
but when the armed Crusaders broke their ranks,
he lost sight of him for a while. A bystander
interjects that he saw Brouček throwing a
spear and running along a vineyard after the
That is indeed how it was", continues
Petrik excitedly; "I ran after him and,
lo and behold! I see him kneeling before a
knight of the enemy and calling ĎMajne hern,
majn hern! I am not a citizen of Prague. Have
mercy, spare me!"í
is madly indignant and the Councillor says
angrily that the man must be court-martialled.
a very worried Brouček, it was a matter of
life and death; and he gets down on his knees,
begging the crowd to have mercy on him. This
action riles the Councillor and the crowd
even more, for it is merely a repetition of
his cowardly pleading before an enemy knight.
He is greeted on all sides by shouts of "Coward!
Liar! Shameful! Traitor! Kill him! "
"For goodnessí sake, friends, "Brouček
says in desperation, "letís stop all
this fooling! I do not even belong among you!
As a matter of fact, I have not yet been born!
I do not exist! I am a son of the future!
" He is answered with angry cries of
"To the fire with the coward! "
One of Domšíkís
friends remarks grimly that it is useless
for Brouček to beg for his soul, for the only
God he ever had was his stomach and his only
church a full beer-barrel.
suggests that a beer-barrel would make a fitting
coffin for the infidel. The crowd takes up
the idea eagerly: "Into the barrel with
him! Stuff him into a barrel! " Broučekís
cloak is torn from him and the indignant citizens
push him into a cask which is found, as the
aggressive Kedruta comes running out of the
house holding in her raised hand the box of
matches from which Mr. Brouček lit his cigar.
She shouts "Anti-Christ", as the
crowd sets fire to the barrel, and throwing
the match-box on the flames, condemns it and
Mr. Brouček to Satan and Satanís grandmother
and his soul to the everlasting flames.
It is usual
at this point in the opera to drop a transparent
curtain after which the noise of the crowd
on the stage gradually subsides, then disappears
from the burning barrel gradually reduce themselves
until they are no bigger than a candleflame!
And it is
indeed the light of a burning candle which
we now see held in the hand of the innkeeper,
Würfl, of the Vikárka Inn. Würfl is looking
around him curiously, staring at a cask in
the courtyard of his inn, from which the voice
of Mr. Brouček is heard, moaning pitifully.
Heavenís sake, man, come out of there",
says Würfl to Mr. Brouček. "That is a
filthy barrel you are in. You look in a frightful
But the overjoyed
Mr. Brouček can only repeat over and over
again that he is home again, he is home again.
Würfl remarks that if Brouček has been sitting
all night in a wet barrel, he has probably
caught a pretty bad cold. Or where else has
climbs out of the barrel, saying very I confidentially
to the Innkeeper: "Where have I been?
Very far, very far indeed. I talked to Žižka
and Jan z Rokycan, you know. I fought the
Crusaders and beat them, too."
the stairs together.
my armed intervention, the City of Prague
would have fallen": then, looking around
him cautiously, "but keep this strictly
between you, me and the gatepost. "
of Act II
from the bagpipe tune No. 190, particularly
figure A, are scattered across the score in
a variety of moods and tempos,
in the orchestral introduction and the opening
scene of Act Il. The soldiers returning from
the service in the Týn Church repeat their
Husite hymn with its supporting bagpipe tune.
is Kunkaís arietta  recounting the inspired
sermon of Jan z Rokycan. A variety of new
motifs accompany the long discussion between
Domšík and his friends on the religious and
political backgrounds of the conflict about
to take place (see at , , , );
the pert, cheeky music for the rebel adolescent
Zak at  to , then later again at ;
the expressive, more flowing phrases from
figure  as Miroslav defends the communistic
policy of the Taborites; then simpler music
to express Broučekís selfish (but how terribly
worldly-wise!) theory of pacifism, at ,
[323,  and .
All the men
have been drinking heavily-including Brouček,
naturally-and when queried about what part
of Prague he lives in and whether he likes
their ale, he boasts that he drank nine glasses
last night at the Vikárka Inn, as the orchestra
plays the quiet opening motif No. 161 of the
When the fanatical
Husites turn ugly, call Brouček Dirty Pagan,
and other insulting names, even as the orchestra
bites and hammers out snarling chords, No.
161 keeps persisting-the drunkedly relaxed
Brouček is beginning vaguely to recognize
some of the characters-the youthful Petrik,
for example, as the comic Harfoboj of the
daughter, is drawn in lyrical tones at .
Then great excitement prevails at  as
the Battle in the Town Square reaches its
height. The motif introducing (Cechís patriotic
speech in Act I, No. 187 reappears with tender
insistence, to accompany Kunkaís "Pater
Noster", suddenly rising to a grand crescendo
as Kunka can no longer bear inactivity and
indecision and wishes herself to join in the
fray. But the house-keeper restrains her,
as the "Song of the Husites" rings
triumphantly out-the same hymn used by Smetana
in his opera Libuše.
changes to comedy again (presto, p. 256) as
Brouček slips quietly into the room, hastily
pulls off his fifteenth-century clothes and
dresses himself as we first saw him. As the
crowd mill round the square, a further hymn
stanza is sung, and after some soft expressive
symphonic music  for the dejected Kunka,
No. 187-and the Czech trumpet fanfare from
pp. 181-2 bring this scene to a close.
of children with their "Hip-Hip-Hurray!
Weíve won the day" are accompanied by
a spirited tune:
followed by repetitions and developments of
the three-note figure (A). This tune is also
prominent in the victorious procession into
the Týn Church, with repetitions of figure
(A) providing much of the exciting movement,
and again, ironically, towards the end of
the opera when Brouček is boasting of his
"mighty contributions" to the Prague
victory (see after ).
motif from Svatopluk Cechís monologue 187
proves to be of primary importance in the
second half of this act: appearing at ,
it swings out broadly in arpeggio chords 
and in this form is used as a prominent accompaniment
at ,  and : in the mock solemn
adagio beginning the final page of the score,
it reappears as a tribute to his collaborator,
Svatopluk Cech, and in an ironic illusion
to the Husite triumphs, as seen through the
eyes and "performance" of Mr. Brouček.
A number of
short, excitable rhythmic figures are worked
up in characteristic fashion by the composer
during the interrogation of Brouček by the
Taborites and his wild account of his war
experiences (see at , pp. 275, 281, 
and elsewhere for examples).
acceptance of her fatherís death introduces
a new expressive theme of enforced resignation,
accompanied with tremolo figurations.
It is worth
examining the clash of harmonies at  to
see how "dissonant" Janáček could
become in order to carry out his textual commitments.
Kedrutaís solemn curse on the unfortunate
Brouček begins fff:
itself to a mere whisper as the centuries
fall away and the exciting cries of the victorious,
but indignant, Husites dissolve into nothingness.
Then, as the flames from the burning barrel
reduce themselves to the light of a single
candle, this mischievous twinkling theme appears
in a variation, with notes of equal length
in subsequent pages of the score. The final
eight bars are a typical Janáček whirlwind
of happy comic sounds, with everybody in the
orchestra playing as noisily and exuberantly
the completed opera to President Thomas Garrigue
Masaryk, "Liberator of the Czech Nation".
He sent the
score to the Prague National Theatre in August
1918: and although, after the success of Jenůfa,
one would have thought that the musical status
of Janáček would remain unquestioned, Kovařovic
felt it necessary to delegate to the second
conductor of the National Theatre, Otakar
Ostrcil, the task of writing a critical report
on the merits of the work.
impressed but, for a number of reasons, the
opera was not produced until 1920. For one
thing, some of the singers found the parts
too high for them: one of them, the bass Václav
Novak, told the producer, after the second
rehearsal, that the part of Würfl made him
hoarse: "The cause being that the composer
has no idea of the human voice and gives his
singers impossible entries (bellowing and
barking). I refuse to ruin my voice for the
sake of someone who is probably mad and doesnít
care in the least whether his notes are singable
thing, it was not easy during World War I
to procure the necessary materials to construct
the extensive and exacting décor and costumes
required for the staging of so elaborate an
was beginning his activities as conductor
at the National Theatre, directed the première
(23 April) and the nine other performances
given during the Prague Spring opera season
of 1920: it was a succes díestime rather than
popular. The strangeness of the subject-a
satire which somehow misfired-the fragmentary
nature of the music, and the absence of sustained
vocal melody content -which had won popular
favour for, Jenůfa-puzzled rather than delighted
the audience, and counted against its immediate
At the end
of the first performance of the "Moon"
opera, Janáček received in the wings a bouquet
of roses which the temperamental composer
threw violently on the floor thinking it had
been paid for out of the slender funds of
the Brno National Theatre whereas, in point
of fact, it had been sent by his own niece.
is told by a Janáček pupil, Osvald Chlubna,
who also reveals that after the performance,
neither the artistic patrons of Prague nor
the music critics took the slightest interest
in the 66-year-old composer despite the undoubted
success of his Jenůfa only four years earlier.
died in the same year, and although Janáček
was too honest a man not still to feel a certain
resentment at Kovařovicís high-handed treatment
of Jenůfa and to a lesser degree of Brouček
he was generous enough to declare how deeply
he was moved at the loss of one who had worked
himself to death in an effort to raise standards
at the National Theatre.
to wait another six years before hearing Brouček
in his own Brno and then it was only the "Moon
Excursion" produced on a shoestring:
the composer had been dead nine years before
Milan Sachs conducted the complete opera on
27 November 1937 at Brno.
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