One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

VII. Conclusion: Martinů’s Parisian Legacy

Looking back on his Paris years before the Nazi invasion forced him to flee, Martinů wrote: “Liberté! Now we discovered that it is not freely available, but that it must be fought for. I, personally, had always had to pay a price for my freedom, but it was my small, private freedom." For Martinů, it was the decision to remain in Paris that represented this sacrifice and risk. He arrived penniless, with the daunting task before him of establishing a reputation from the ground up, with few contacts or concrete prospects for the future. Paris nonetheless opened a whole new world before him, and as Šafránek observed, “The very air breathed liberty. Suddenly Martinů felt himself free.”

Martinů’s art, influenced by the Parisian musical milieu, experienced a drastic re-orientation, or, better yet, a series of them. The experience of Paris brought about a rapid and decisive self-reckoning for the composer. As a child of the nineteenth century and a late bloomer, Martinů was forced to reconcile early training and tendencies with new approaches. He also had to sort out the myriad musical styles prevalent around him. For Martinů, Paris indeed represented “a turning point and a radical one", as the composer later recalled, adding that "I began to find my bearings in to the chaos into which I had plunged in Paris, that is, I began really to think about it."

He elaborated upon this in a biography printed in the Boston Symphony Orchestra program notes for performances of his La Bagarre and La Symphonie. It is a fascinating self-portrait of the composer:

Martinů studied as a violinist at the Conservatory of Music at Prague, where his teacher in composition was Josef Suk. As a young composer, he was not attracted by the Czech school of writing, which was influenced by the German, with its rather clumsy romanticism; he was favorably disposed towards the French on account of its respect for form, its clarity and purity of expression. Alone among Czech composers, he passed through the struggles and evolution of impressionism. Debussy at first influenced him greatly; later, always searching after new manners of expression, he went to Paris for lessons from Roussel (1924). His sojourn there enlightened him. He at once sided with the most "modern" of the composers, was enthusiastic over Stravinsky, championed him, and made him known in Czechoslovakia. He gradually freed himself from this influence and came back to the Czech spirit as exemplified by Smetana and Dvorak. He especially acquired confidence, technical facility, sense of form, orchestral mastery. The rhythmic element, always sustained and new, that distinguishes his works, recalls Dvorak--but is enriched by the modern experiences and experiments. Thus he passed in his creation of melodic expression to polyphonic complexity based on new musical conceptions, but in a clear and expressive manner. In his recent works he shows a leaning towards neo-classicism derived from the modernisme of today.

Although written in the late 20’s, this quote could very well date from a decade later, demonstrating that Martinů had already embarked by this time upon a very certain and increasingly consistent path. The biographical sketch seems to emphasize Martinů’s cosmopolitan approach, with the exception of course of German “metaphysics”. Most striking is his self-described uniqueness with regard to following Debussy’s lead, which he clearly regards as a bold early step towards independence, despite the fact that Suk was also experimenting in this realm. Martinů credits Paris with enlightening him, but interestingly this is already in the past tense. He also takes pains to ally himself with the most modern of composers, mentioning only Stravinsky by name, but is careful to point out his gradual weaning from this influence as well. Czechness gets it due, perhaps more than expected, and jazz is inferred by the phrase “modern experiences and experiments”. This is worth emphasizing, because as this study has shown, Martinů’s approach to rhythm involved a synthesis of patterns inspired by jazz and Czech folk music. Martinů refers to the process as “enrichment”, and this seems particularly apt. He also links this idea of a “sustained and new” rhythmic approach with a tendency towards polyphonic complexity and the stylistic trends of neoclassicism, both of which were observed in relation to the rhythmic component in chapter two. Above all, the quotation echoes the composer’s remarkably flexible approach to the dizzying array of methods, styles, languages and –isms that could be heard in the French capital. Folk stylizations, jazz rhythms, Stravinskian ostinati, quotes of Svatý Václave, soothing diatonicism, grating dissonance - all seem to come and go with apparent ease in Martinů’s oeuvre depending upon the work the composer has in mind and its expressive intent.

Indeed, Martinu’s music of the twenties could well be seen as a chaotic art, with many voices striving to be heard and developed in various ways. Rarely does the composer settle into a pattern, seeming rather to address a different problem or challenge with each work. Examples worth citing in this regard include the wedding of the Charleston with folk song in the finale of the Revue de Cuisine, the adoption of Svatý Václave into a rhythmically charged atmosphere to represent the fervor of the crowd in La Bagarre, and the battle for dominance between folk and jazz dance rhythms in his Trois danses tchèques for solo piano.

Although one is certainly struck by the experimental nature of Martinů’s early Paris works, as an overall representative of the avant-garde Martinů’s status remains unclear, despite his assertions in the quote above. He certainly disdained innovation for its own sake, echoing Stravinsky’s words when writing in 1928 that "modern music cannot allow for everything, as it is contended. The increased number of means and possibilities does not mean an increase in latitude. The more freedom there is, the more discipline is necessary." Ironically, this statement emerged at the very same time as many of Martinů’s most experimental works.

Martinů’s avant-garde tendencies are only now beginning to be seriously addressed. Both Šafránek and Large, Martinů’s chief biographers, downplayed their importance, and the climate of Czech scholarship behind the iron curtain was also not favorably disposed to exploring these more renegade aspects of Martinů’s oeuvre, so devoid of a “healthy” sense of nationalism. Recent recordings and performances sponsored by the Bohuslav Martinů Institute in Prague, however, have done much to redress the situation and provide a more balanced view of the composer. The unsmiling, negativistic qualities of some of these experimental works show a very different side of the composer. Jazz rhythms become a metaphor for a bankrupt way of life or outrageous moral values (Les trois souhaits, Les Larmes du couteau), or are transformed into a hard, driving force in such works as the relentless La Fantaisie for two pianos, which unifies popular dance with steely, percussive, "machine age" rhythms.

At the same time, though, Martinů often employs jazz with a very light touch, capturing feelings of optimism and joie de vivre as in the ballet La Revue de cuisine. Such an approach was not necessarily less avant-garde, considering the prominence of wit and irony in the musical language of 1920’s Paris. At the time jazz and dance were inseparable of course, so it made perfect sense to incorporate the idiom into ballet. Martinů’s sense of humor and irony also plays a crucial role in the Trois danses tchèques as he rags the polka in a piece that does everything rhythmically to undermine its title. In a fascinating collision of aesthetic values, Martinů’s folk heritage, brought with him from Czechoslovakia, now had to contend with the rhythms of the dance hall representing the urban "folk".

As has been demonstrated throughout this study, Martinů delighted in exploring such dichotomies. Indeed, his image as an avant-gardist on the one hand is balanced by an equally cultivated, consciously naďve persona on the other, with Orientalism or simplified folk stylization providing the impetus for such works as the ballets The Butterfly That Stamped and Špalíček. Here, Martinů’s interest in fairy tales and the world of children produces works of charming simplicity, deliberately flying in the face of modernist trends. Martinů’s use of pastoral style as a contrast to (and metaphorical refuge from) surrounding passages of great intensity and dynamism also belongs to this category, though in such works it clashes directly with the composer’s more modern persona.

The search for a progressive chronology proves beside the point in such cases; indeed, the two ballets above, composed in 1926 and 1932, make odd bookends for works pushing the avant-garde envelope such as Les Trois souhaits and the Sonata No. 1 for violin in piano, both written in 1929. This is merely one instance in which the search for a linear development in Martinů’s style proves to be a dubious undertaking. Julietta, the operatic masterpiece from 1937, has its roots in the surrealistic operas of the late 20’s, and could well have been composed in their style had Martinů chosen to do so. So, in a similar fashion, does a seemingly isolated work such as the Divertimento for piano left-hand from 1926 look forward to the simplified style of Špalíček and the neo-classical Serenades of the early thirties. What can be noted with certainty, however, is the fact that many of Martinů’s most adventurous works from the twenties never made it to the theater or concert hall, and thus critics and audiences remained unaware of this most remarkable aspect of the composer’s work. Martinů was no doubt discouraged by this lack of interest, and as the use of popular dance rhythms often featured in his most adventurous works became increasingly passé, the practical need to emphasize other approaches became abundantly clear.

Equally complex from an aesthetic standpoint is Martinů’s relationship to nationalism. In a review discussing Richard Taruskin’s article on the subject in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Charles Rosen writes that "ironic alienation is part of the normal process in the creation of a nationalist style." He might well have mentioned Martinů as an example, a classic case in this context if ever there was one. For there is more than a hint of irony behind Martinů leaving Prague for Paris in order to discover what it meant to be - and become - a “Czech” composer. Martinů’s music also gives credence to the idea; the first substantial work written in Paris, the Quartet for clarinet, horn and side drum, treats Svatý Václave in just this ironic context, dissecting it into fragments and making of them objective "cellules" in a musical collage. Also relevant here is the playful battle for dominance between polka rhythms by jazz patterns in the Trois danses tchèques. In these and other works of the period Martinů is playing out his ambivalence towards nationalism, or at least subjecting the material to a more consciously modern approach.

There is more than a hint of irony as well in the fact that the French (as well as Europe in general) clearly saw Martinů first as a Czech, while the Czechs deridingly labeled him as “French”. As late as 1940 Paul Nettl expressed the Czech point of view, with the familiar hint of a negative subtext: “Bohuslav Martinů, influenced by Les Six and Stravinsky, has become almost a Frenchman, so zealously has he thrown himself open to foreign influences." As Šafránek points out, “this classification of ‘French’ tagged Martinů for a long time and was the source of many of his spiritual struggles, for at heart he was completely a Czech."

Martinů echoed these sentiments in the following observation quoted from “Something about that ‘French’ influence”:

If lightness appears in my work, aha, there is that [French] influence, if it is the color of the sound, we then see how a Czech composer can be ‘influenced.’ You recognize that all of this is essentially childish. But what is no longer childish is when each composition is searched for the extent to which I ‘saved’ myself from this influence, [or] how I lost or found my expression such that I abandoned or am abandoning these influences…

Martinů elaborates upon the point in a subsequent paragraph that he later crossed out, but the idea is significant nonetheless. Here, Martinů puts forth the idea that nationalism and cosmopolitanism not mutually exclusive:

Furthermore, the Czech elements which I brought to France were not destroyed, but on the contrary supported and enhanced through maturity and were brought into an organic order, which, if I am not mistaken, follows only that line which Smetana and Dvořák began.

This complements Martinů’s assertion elsewhere in his writings that “If we are talking about tradition, what I want to say here is that tradition is not something “stable” - a new work can come that will be different yet it will still be Czech. There is no prescription for how it should or should not be." Reflecting this open-ended approach, elsewhere Martinů then defends an experimental approach to nationalism, even referring to such an approach as necessary, observing that “it is not a moment of great, isolated works (of which there were very few in the entire history anyway), it is a moment of preparation, of searching, of straightening out the terrain for those who are coming."

It is clear from all of this that Martinů was profoundly aware of his Czech heritage and consciously cultivated musical nationalism as a viable and meaningful tradition, while at the same time experimenting with different possible manifestations. Martinů’s view towards nationalism was above all flexible, and anything but codified. On a practical level he undoubtedly hoped to take advantage of his origins, and that his identity as a Czech would help him find a niche, as was the case with Bartók and Stravinsky. This was not a simple task, for even though the French had proven their love for the exotic, they had also become spoiled by an embarrassment of riches during the teens and twenties with the unprecedented influx of artists from all corners of Europe and America; a Czech musician in their midst was hardly guaranteed to make waves simply because of his national origin.

Martinů also faced an uphill battle back at home. The Czechs did not at first appreciate the composer’s determination to pursue his own path, resenting his defection to Paris and declaring his music superficial and derivative of Debussy and later Stravinsky. However, Martinů’s reputation in his homeland eventually grew considerably, thanks in large part to his nationally conceived contributions to the Czech theater written in a consciously simplified, accessible style. In these works he tried to develop a identifiably national style that would assuage his disparagers without succumbing to the mock-heroic style he detested. That he succeeded remarkably in this endeavor is reflected in his garnering the Smetana Prize for his orchestral La Rhapsodie and the ballet Špalíček, both works possessing overt national content. How ironic then that Julietta, a complex surrealistic opera based upon a French play, should cap Martinů’s theatrical career in Czechoslovakia with a triumphant series of performances at the National Theater.

Alongside compositions specifically designed for the Czech audience, Martinů cultivated more “cosmopolitan” works. Despite the national element being relatively sublimated in these works, they are nonetheless frequently discussed in terms of Czechness by reviewers. With such works Martinů slowly found success abroad as well, and the following samples of contemporary reviews are very typical of the Martinů criticism that emerged during his Parisian sojourn. The first concerns the String Quintet (1927), the second Špalíček (1932) the third the Harpsichord Concerto (1935) and the fourth the Tre ricercari and Double Concerto (1938). The italics are mine, emphasizing the most relevant comments to the discussion at hand:

In Brussels at the Palais des Beaux Arts a concert of chamber music was offered to the participants of the festival by the Pro Arte Quartet. The program contained a string quintet (two violins, two violas and cello) by Martinů, a young Czech who is living in Paris; a fresh and charming work by a man of real talent. His personality is perhaps not yet clearly defined and the writing is at times too facile, but it shows a natural and spontaneous gift.


At the beginning of the season there was the premiere of Bohuslav Martinů’s Špalíček, which the composer calls a ‘song ballet in three acts and ten pictures.’ The emphasis is on ‘ballet’ for the stage events are expressed only by the dance, while groups of voices, a women’s chorus and threes soloists--soprano, tenor and bass--are placed in the orchestra. They accompany, explain, and enhance the dramatic presentation, which is made up of fairy tales, ballads, children’s games and legends. The music is naturally appropriate to the simple material, without however renouncing its claim to art. Martinů is a captivating master of rhythm. His dance pieces gain national character from the use of Czech folk melodies. The polytonality, the marked time changes, the polyrhythms, and combination of the instruments with the piano, make this score noteworthy. The songs have tonal richness; in the remarkable a capella of the women’s chorus, in the soloists’ songs and recitatives, and in the antiphony of chorus and solos. But Martinů’s personality does not stand out, his work is a composite of Bohemian folk music, the early Stravinsky and French impressionism. The orchestra is large and effectively used, but the score is not complicated. This dance opera may be called the most racially characteristic work of the composer.

The Harpsichord Concerto of Bohuslav Martinů has the musical, and especially rhythmic quality, that one finds in all the deliberately gauche and slyly correct works of this Czech composer. I cannot see that the harpsichord gains anything by being subjected to these rigors, or, for that matter, that Martinů gains anything by using the harpsichord. Any plucked instrument would have done the trick. In this respect, one can see that Martinů has remained a “modern” and cannot adapt himself to any kind of classicism, true or false, which demands the use either of an ancient instrument or of an ancient form. The Concerto is, nevertheless, musically interesting: the man is there, honest, candid, and with a peasant-like freshness. I know of few composers with such rhythmic spontaneity, or with such abundance without excess.


Several works by Martinů and Britten were given premieres in both Geneva and Basle on the same evening. Martinů, closely bound to his country in work and in feeling, emerges more and more clearly as the heir of the great Czech masters, Smetana, Dvořák and Janáček. His recent scores possess maturity and power of expression and reveal surprising progress. The Tre Ricercari for chamber orchestra which had its premiere at the Venice biennial was broadcast by Ansermet over the Swiss radio. The original instrumentation (flute, two oboes, two bassoons, and two trumpets, two pianos and three groups of violins and violoncellos) is matched by the style of this splendid score, which combines balance of construction with dramatic force. Still more important seemed the Concerto for string orchestra, piano and kettledrums (manuscript) written for Paul Sacher and his orchestra which recorded another success for the composer in Basle.

As is evident from the sampling above, reviewers outside Czechoslovakia inevitably viewed Martinů from a national perspective, and an association with the perceived peasant-like spontaneity of Dvořák is also a very detectable subtext. Within the same sphere is the critics’ emphasis on Martinů’s approach to rhythm, which the composer, jazz notwithstanding, also ascribed to his homeland with his declaration that "the national music of Czechoslovakia is rhythm - strong, vital rhythm." As the reviewers above point out, even in such works of absolute music as the Harpsichord Concerto or Tre ricercari, where the national element is not so readily apparent, "Czechness" can still be detected, sublimated into the musical texture or syntax in some way. This underlines the fact that although the two masks of Martinů the nationalist and Martinů the cosmopolitan seem clearly defined enough, the composer was inclined to switch back and forth within a single work or don both masks at once. Again, the concepts of synthesis and juxtaposition prove relevant.

Such complexes of styles and symbols prove to be one of the more fascinating aspects of the composer’s oeuvre, and the resulting characteristics are aptly summed up by André Coeuroy, who described Martinů’s music as

primitive and rustic (rude et paysanne), but always well-constructed and searching to solve problems in all domains…In this abundance without weakness, [there is] a personal language that takes into account, without giving allegiance to, Stravinsky and Schoenberg and remains fresh through contact with the Moravian folk tradition… Opposite the morose and harsh art of Alois Haba, Martinů makes sparkle a supple, sinewy art that always orients itself towards the greater humanity.

It is particularly interesting that Shoenberg should be mentioned within this context, for the one thing Martinů and Schoenberg had in common is also what set them upon opposite creative paths: a profoundly nationalistic ideology.

Martinů’s trajectory towards compositional maturity is in many ways a familiar one. With Stravinsky palpably under the influence of Rimsky-Korsakov before somehow "breaking free" with Petrushka and the Rite of Spring, so it is with Martinů and, for example Debussy; it is a fascinating coincidence that for both Slavic composers, Paris provided the ideal proving ground. Coming onto the scene rather late and in the wake of Stravinsky’s remarkable successes, however, Martinů faced a more complicated influence-sorting task, with an array of progenitors (in addition to Debussy and Stravinsky), including Dvořák, Mahler, Smetana, Strauss, and Suk.

Martinů’s uncertain response to the musical situation in Prague in the teens and early twenties, a confused period marked by critical posturing, Nejedlian polemics and a general lack of consensus, led to a bewildering inconsistency of styles in his music - polkas, sousedskás, furiants, and other palpably Czech items are interspersed with pieces inspired on one hand by the romantic ebullience of Strauss’ tone poems or the subtle language of Pelléas on the other. Indeed, the composer’s works before Paris, while frequently promising, ultimately pale in comparison with the compositions they imitate.

In Paris, however, Martinů manages to turn this unpromising pluralistic approach into an advantage, using folk, impressionistic, and more avant-garde elements in a convincing synthesis complemented by the gradual emergence of a distinctive musical voice, indeed one of the most recognizable voices of any composer in the twentieth century. It is clear that Martinů strove for a balanced aesthetic, favoring moderation of expression over extremism. His music as a whole reflects a sort of reconciliation between such opposite poles as optimism and bleakness, grimness and frivolity, tradition and the avant-garde. Indeed, as has been observed, much of the dynamic quality of Martinů’s music derives from its exploitation of seemingly conflicting aesthetic goals. Elliott Carter echoed these sentiments in his review of Martinů’s Second Piano Concerto:

Martinů’s extreme musicality and freshness of expression are directly winning qualities. He does not always give an impression of unity because he juxtaposes all kinds of music in one piece, even in one movement. In this work he seemed to be playing off Hindemith against certain romantic composers, but the effect is somehow natural and convincing.

Martinů’s place in history is still a problematic subject, and the Paris period has particular relevance for a discussion of this issue. Judging Martinů’s compositional legacy has led to various pronouncements, from Šafránek’s glowing prose to the following more recent and decidedly reserved observation:

Martinů actually loved the tradition more than Stravinsky. For him it was still a living tradition and he doesn’t want to alienate it. This makes him at once in some ways a stronger composer in relation to tradition than Stravinsky and also a weaker one because he is destroying the tradition much less than Stravinsky does. This is one of the problems with all composers with music of the past - the extent to which they use it and the extent to which they subvert it when they use it.

Charles Rosen’s statement belies a prejudice that seems to have dogged Martinů criticism for some time. First of all, it is debatable whether a more subversive or destructive creative force is inherently superior to one that is less so. One is reminded of the so-called Futurist music of that period that now languishes in obscurity despite its obviously subversive, destructive elements. Even if siding with this post-modern point of view, however, how does one judge the degree of apparent subversion in a composer’s works? Certainly Martinů in Paris subjects his beloved national symbols to all kinds of "destructive" elements in a fascinating twist on stereotypical national expression. It is a hallmark of his Paris style and emblematic of his experimental approach. But as has been demonstrated throughout this study, Martinů was not content to merely parrot other composers, or continue in a tried-and-true national tradition, but rather boldly set out on his own path.

Nonetheless the monikers of "conservative" and "derivative" are still attached to the composer. It is as if the presence of extended tonal passages proves Martinů’s music is unadventurous or facile, or that the composer’s typically dynamic use of rhythm makes of him a lifelong sycophant to Stravinsky. It is all perhaps a matter of perspective, even prejudice, but as this study has attempted to demonstrate, the solutions offered by Martinů to the problems of his time were his own.

This leads, in closing, to the issue of individuality. In composition such a concept can of course be discussed but never proven, being more easily perceived than quantified. If a person notes with relish that Martinů’s music sounds like that of no other composer and offers a unique aesthetic vision, another individual might never get past his perception of the composer’s anxiety of influence. In this regard, one writer’s observations about Jean Cocteau could be applied in spirit to Martinů as well:

It is sometimes charged against him that he constantly impersonated others, modeling himself on a series of artists "greater" and "more genuine" than himself, notably Anna de Noailles, Apollinaire, Gide, Stravinsky, and Picasso. What he did was to use, very often, a touch of "somebody else" as an ingredient among other ingredients in the fabrication of works of his own; and persons who denigrate him on this count might ask themselves why a work by Cocteau, whatever its "influences" or "reminiscences," is always strongly characteristically Cocteau.

Judging from the many performances of his works and the innumerable newspaper and journal articles devoted to reviewing and assessing his compositions, Martinů made a remarkable impact on the musical scene in Paris, and by extension, his homeland and the rest of Europe. The fact that he emerged even more quickly as a popular voice in America underscores the significance of his earlier achievements. In America the symbolic nature of Martinů’s art became even more apparent, and as a wartime refugee Martinů cultivated motives from Svatý Václave and Julietta with renewed vigor in a reflection of the tragedies that had unfolded in his personal life, his homeland, and the entire Western world. Perhaps this simultaneity of levels of significance is what ultimately resonates in his oeuvre, for in Martinů’s works not only is the world in which he lived brought vividly and panoramically to life, but also the fascinating and complex personality who experienced it.


Works by Martinů

Adagio. In Klavírní Skladby. Prague: Panton, 1970.

La Bagarre. Paris: Alphonse Leduc Editions Musicales, 1930.

Božankovi a Soničce. [Božánek and Sonička]. Prague: Tempo, 1992.

Cello Concerto No. 1. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1931. Newly revised edition, 1956.

Cinq pièces breves pour violin et piano. Paris: Alphonse Leduc Editions Musicales, 1930.

Concert pour trio (violon, violoncelle et piano & orchestre à cordes). Paris: Editions Max Eschig, 1971.

Concertino pour trio avec piano et orchestre à cordes. Prague: Melantrich, 1949.

Concertino for Piano and Orchestra. Prague: Panton, 1967.

Concertino for Violoncello and Orchestra. Reduction for violoncello and piano. Prague: Panton, 1973.

Concerto da Camera per Violin solo, Pianoforte, Timpani, Batteria e orchestra d’archi. London: Universal Edition, 1955.

Concerto for Flute, Violin and Orchestra. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1961.

Concerto Grosso. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1948.

Le Départ. Prague: Panton, 1971.

Divadlo za branou. [Theater Behind the Gate]. Suite. Prague: Panton, 1965.

Divertimento for Piano (Left Hand) and Chamber Orchestra. Prague: Panton, 1976.

Divertimento (Serenata IV). Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1954.

Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Timpani. London: Hawkes & Son, 1946.

Dumka (No. 1). In Drobné klavírní skladby. Prague: Panton, 1974.

Dumka (No. 2). In Klavírní skladby. Prague: Panton, 1970.

Dumka (No. 3). Paris: Editions Max Eschig, 1970.

Duo concertant for Two Violins and Orchestra. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 1979.

Duo No. 1 for Violin and Violoncello. Paris: La Sirène musicale, 1928.

Esquisses de danses. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1953.

La Fantaisie pour deux pianos. Paris: Editions Max Eschig, 1969.

Fantaisie et toccata. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1951.

Half-time (Rondo for Orchestra). Prague: Český hudební fond, 1959.

Impromptu for Violin and Piano. Prague: Hudební matice, 1934.

Improvisation. In Les Contemporains (troisième recueil). Paris: Éditions Gérard Billaudot, [1952].

Instruktivní duo pro nervózní (Instructive Duo for the Nervous). In Drobné klavírní skladby. Prague: Panton, 1974.

Intermezzo for Violin and Piano. Prague: Edition Melantrich, 1937.

Inventions for Orchestra. Prague: Melantrich, 1949.

Julietta (Snář). [Julietta (A Dream Book)]. Prague: Melantrich, 1947.

Koleda Milostná. [Love Carol]. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1937.

Kytice. [Bouquet of Flowers]. Piano score by Karel Šolc. Prague: Panton, 1984.

Lístek do památníku. [Album Leaf]. In Drobné klavírní skladby. Prague: Panton, 1974.

Loutky. [Puppets]. Basel: Bärenreiter Kassel, 1955 (by Editio Supraphon, Prague).

Mazurka. London: Boosey & Hawkes, 1942.

Otvírání Studánek. [Opening the Wells]. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1972.

Partita (Première Suite). Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1932.

Piano Concerto No. 1. Reduction for two pianos by Karel Šolc. Prague: Panton, 1968.

Piano Concerto No. 2. Reduction for two pianos by Karel Šolc. Prague: Panton, 1960.

Piano Quintet (No. 1). Paris: Editions Max Eschig, 1974.

Polní mše. [Field Mass]. Prague: Melantrich, 1947.

Prelude for Piano. In Martinů: Compositions for Polička. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1973.

Quartet for Clarinet, French Horn, Side Drum and Violoncello. Prague: Panton, 1985.

Quatre mouvements. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1978.

Quintette pour deux violins, deux altos et un violoncelle. Paris: La Sirène musicale, 1930.

Les Ritournelles. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1933.

Sept arabesques pour violoncelle et piano ou violon et piano. Paris: R. Deiss (Editions Salabert), 1932.

Serenade No. 3. Miami: Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., reprinted by special arrangement.

Serenade for Chamber Orchestra. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1931.

Sextet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 ‘Cellos. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1948.

Sinfonia concertante for Two Orchestras. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1953.

Sinfonietta giocosa. London: Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Limited, 1953.

Skici; Hry. [Sketches; Games]. Prague: Panton, 1979.

Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano. Basel: Bärenreiter, 1959.

Sonata for Two Violins and Piano. Prague: Panton, 1982.

Sonata for Violin and Piano (No. 1). Paris: Alphonse Leduc Editions Musicales, 1930.

Sonata for Violin and Piano (No. 2). Paris: R. Deiss, 1932.

Sonata in D minor for Violin and Piano. Prague: Panton, 1966.

Sonatina for Two Violins and Piano. Paris: Alphonse Leduc Editions Musicales, 1931.

String Quartet No. 2. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1927.

String Quartet No. 3. Paris: Alphonse Leduc et Cie, 1931.

String Quartet No. 5. Prague: Artia, 1959.

String Quartet with Orchestra. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1932.

String Trio No. 2. Paris: Heugel & Cie, 1951.

Symphony No. 1. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1990.

Tre Ricercari. London: Boosey & Hawkes, 1939.

Trois danses tchèques. Paris: Edition Max Eschig, 1929.

Trois Esquisses. Paris: Edition Max Eschig, 1965.

Violin Concerto No. 1. Reduction for violin and piano by Karel Šolc. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1984.

Violin Concerto No. 2. Prague: Melantrich, 1949.

Vzpoura. [The Revolt]. Reduction for piano. Prague: Dilia, 1968.




Other Works Cited

Bach, J. S. Französische Suiten. München: G. Henle Verlag, 1956/1984.

Debussy, Claude. Nocturnes. In Three Great Orchestral Works In Full Score. New York: Dover Publications, 1983.

Dvořák, Antonín. Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, Opus 104. Reduction for violoncello and piano by the composer. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1987.

Gershwin, George. Rhapsody in Blue. Original version for two pianos, four hands. Secaucus, New Jersey: WB Music Corp., 1924 (Renewed).

Kaprálová, Vítĕzslava. Koleda Milostná. [Love Carol]. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1937.

_______. Partita for Piano and String Orchestra. Prague: Svoboda, 1948.

_______. Variations sur le carillon. Paris: La Sirène musicale, 1938.

Ravel, Maurice. Sonate pour violin et piano. Paris: Durand Edition Musicales, 1927.

Stravinsky, Igor. Petrushka and The Rite of Spring for Piano Four Hands or Two Pianos. New York: Dover Publications, 1990.

Suk, Josef. Meditace na staročeský chorál “Svatý Václave”, Opus 35. [Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale "Svatý Václave"]. Prague: Národní Hudební Vydavatelství Orbis, 1951.


Austin, William W. Music in the 20th Century. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1966.

Baruch, Gerth-Wolfgang. "Tchécoslovaquie: nouveautés à l’opéra de Prague." La Revue musicale 18, no. 172 (February-March 1937): 140-141.

_______. "Czech and other Novelties in Prague." Modern Music 11, no. 3 (March-April 1934): 153-156.

Beckerman, Michael. "In Search of Czechness in Music." Nineteenth Century Music 10, no. 1 (Summer 1986): 61-73.

_______. “The Master’s Little Joke: Antonín Dvořák and the Mask of Nation.” In Dvorák and His World. Ed. Michael Beckerman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993: 134-156.

Bernier, Olivier. Fireworks at Dusk: Paris in the Thirties. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993.

Bertaut Jules. Paris: 1870-1935. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1936.

Blitzstein, Marc. "Popular Music - An Invasion." Modern Music 10, no. 2 (January-February 1933): 96-102.

Blom, Eric. "The Twentieth Century Slump." Modern Music 10, no. 3 (March-April 1933): 123-129.

Boston Symphony Orchestra program notes. December 14, 1927, 14-16 (Martinů’s La Bagarre) and December 14, 1928, 683-686 (Martinů’s La Symphonie).

Brabcová, Jitka, ed. Bohuslav Martinu Anno 1981: Papers from an International Musicological Conference, Prague, 26-28 May, 1981. Prague: Česká hudební společnost, 1990.

Brody, Elaine. Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope: 1870-1925. New York: George Braziller, 1987.

Carter, Elliott. "Stravinsky and Other Moderns in 1940." Modern Music 17, no. 3 (March-April 1940): 164-170.


Červinková, Blanka, et. al., eds. Bohuslav Martinů: Biliografický katalog. [Bohuslav Martinů: Bibliographic Catalog]. Prague: Panton, 1990.

Clapham, John. “Martinů’s Instrumental Style.” The Music Review 24, no. 2 (May 1963): 158-167.

Cocteau, Jean. A Call to Order. Translated by by Rollo H. Myers. New York: Henry Holt and Company, [1923].

Coeuroy, André. “Allegro symphonique, de Bohuslav Martinů.” La Revue musicale 11, no. 104 (May 1930): 460-461.

_______. Dictionnaire critique de la musique ancienne et moderne. Paris: Payot, 1956.

_______. "Trio à cordes de Martinů et autres musiques tchèques d’aujourd’hui (troisième Concert de ‘Triton’)." La Revue musicale 16, no. 154 (March 1935): 206.

Coeuroy, André and Rostard, Claude. Les Chefs-d’oeuvre de la musique de chambre. Paris: Editions le bon plaisir, 1952.

Coeuroy, André and Schaeffner, André. Le Jazz. Paris: Edition Claude Aveline, 1926.

“Concerts pour piano et orchestre, de Bohuslav Martinů.” La Revue musicale 9, no. 5 (March 1, 1928): 150.

Copland, Aaron. "Jazz Structure and Influence." Modern Music 4, no. 2 (January-February 1927): 9-14.

_______. "The Lyricism of Milhaud." Modern Music 6, no. 2 (July-August 1929): 14-19.

Coppola, Piero. Dix-sept ans de musique à Paris: 1922-1939. Lausanne: Librairie F. Rouge et Cie S. A., 1944.

Crespelle, J.-P. La Folle époque des ballets russes au surréalisme. Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1968.

Cronin, Vincent. Paris: City of Light 1919-1939. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.

Demarquez, Suzanne. "Le clavecin...concerto de Bohnslaw (sic) Martinů.” La Revue musicale 17, no. 63 (February 1936): 124-126.

de Schloezer, Boris. "The Drift of the Century." Modern Music 6, no. 1 (November 1928 - June 1929): 3-10.

Duchesneau, Michel. L’avant-garde musicale à Paris de 1871 à 1939. Sprimont: Mardaga, 1997.

Dumesnil, René. La Musique en France entre les deux guerres: 1919-1939. Genève: Éditions du milieu du monde, 1946.

_______. Portraits de musiciens Français. Paris: Librairie Plon, 1938.

Einstein, Alfred. "Cycle of Three Centuries." Modern Music 15, no. 3 (March-April 1938): 135-139.

_______. "National and Universal Music." Modern Music 14, no. 1 (November-December 1936): 3-11.

Erismann Guy. Martinů: un musicien ŕ l’éveil des sources. Arles: Actes Sud, 1990.

Evans, Edwin. "Albert Roussel." The Chesterian 19 (1938): 97-102.

Ewen, David. The Book of Modern Composers. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950.

Ferroud, Pierre-Octave. "A Great Musician of To-day: Bohuslav Martinů.” The Chesterian 18 (1937): 89-93.

Flanner, Janet. Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939. New York: Viking Press, 1972.

Frankenstein, Alfred V. "Washington - Festival and Experiment." Modern Music 10, no. 4 (May-June 1933): 203-207.

Gatti, Guido. "La Biennale de Venise." La Revue musicale 19, no. 186 (September-October 1938): 169-173.

Golan, Romy. "Modes of Escape: The Representation of Paris in the Twenties." In The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis. Edited by Jean Clair, 336-377. Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1991.

Goldbeck, Fr. "Concert Münch: Pantins, d’Harsanyi et Concerto pour violoncelle de Martinů.” La Revue musicale 19, no. 181 (February 1938): 143-144.

Halbreich, Harry. Bohuslav Martinů: Werkverzeichnis, Dokumentation und Biographie. Zürich: Atlantis, 1968.

Hammond, Richard. "Viewing Les Noces in 1929." Modern Music 6, no. 3: 19-25.

Harding, James. The Ox on the Roof: Scenes from musical life in Paris in the Twenties. London: Macdonald, 1972.

Henderson, Michael. “The Case for and against Martinů.” Czech Music 18, no. 2 (Winter 1994).

Hoerée, Arthur. "Revue de cuisine, pour six instruments, par Bohuslav Martinů (Concerts de l’École Normale).” La Revue musicale 11, no. 105 (June 1930): 540-541.

_______. "Troisième quatuor à cordes, par Bohuslav Martinů (S.M.I.)." La Revue musicale 13, no. 127 (June 1932): 53.

Huth, Arno. "Dance of Death, in Basle." Modern Music 17, no. 4 (May-June 1940): 246-250.

Jacobi, Frederick. "Liege, 1930." Modern Music 8, no. 1 (November-December, 1930): 10-20.

Klüver, Billy and Martin, Julie. "Paris, the Artists’ City." In The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis, edited by Jean Clair, 378-391. Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1991.

Kratochvíl, Jirka. "Bohuslav Martinů: Unaccompanied Choral Music for Mixed Voices.” D.A. diss., University of Northern Colorado, 1997.

Large, Brian. Martinů. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1975.

Lopatnikoff, Nikolai. "Independents in Central Europe." Modern Music 8, no. 4 (May-June 1931): 29-32.

Lourie, Arthur. "The Crisis in Form." Modern Music 8, no. 4 (May-June, 1931): 3-11.

Löwenbach, Jan. Martinů pozdravuje domov. [Martinů sends greetings home]. Prague: Hudební matice umĕlecké besedy, 1947.

Macek, Petr. Colloquium: Bohuslav Martinů, His Pupils, Friends and Contemporaries: Brno 1990. Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 1993.

Martelli, Henri. “Oeuvres nouvelles de Bohuslav Martinů.” La Revue musicale 18, no. 176 (August-September 1937): 124-126.

Martinů, Bohuslav. "Artists are Citizens." Modern Music 22, no. 1 (November-December 1944): 10-11.

_______. "Cestou k Stravinskému." [The Path Towards Stravinsky]. Tribuna 6, no. 153 (July 1924): 1-2.

_______. “Dopisy: Připad ‘Half-time’.” [Letters: The Case of ‘Half-time’]. Listy hudební matice 4, no. 5 (January 20, 1925): 170-171.

_______. "Igor Stravinsky." Listy hudební matice 4, no. 3 (November 20, 1924): 57-59.

_______. “Ke kritice o současné hudbĕ.” [On the Criticism of Modern Music]. Listy hudební matice 4, no. 6 (February 20, 1925): 184-187.

_______. "1938-1945." Malá knihovna tempa, vol. 2. Prague: Hudební matice umĕlecké besedy, 1947.

_______. “O současné hudbĕ.” [On Modern Music]. Listy hudební matice 4, no. 9-10 (May 15, 1925): 268-273.

_______. “O současné melodii.” [On Modern Melodies]. Listy hudební matice 5, no. 5 (February 25, 1926): 164-166.

_______. “Pařižské nábřeží.” [Parisian Embankment]. New Yorské Listy 69, no. 233 (October 28, 1943).

_______. "Témoignage tchécoslovaque." La Revue musicale (November 1937): 366.

Martinů, Charlotte. My Life with Bohuslav Martinů. Translated by Dr. Diderik C.D. DeJong. Prague: Orbis Press Agency, 1978.

Martinů in America. Documentary film. Prague: Czech Television, 2000. Script by Aleš Březina and Jiří Nekvasil.

McPhee, Colin. "New York’s Spring Season, 1936." Modern Music 13, no. 4 (May-June 1936): 39-42.

Mihule, Jaroslav. Bohuslav Martinů. Prague: Statní hudební vydavatelství, 1966.

_______. Bohuslav Martinů. Prague: Orbis, 1978.

_______. Bohuslav Martinů: Profil života a díla. [Bohuslav Martinů: Profile of His Life and Work]. Prague: Supraphon, 1974.

Mucha, Jiří. Podivné Lásky. [Strange Loves]. Prague: Mladá fronta, 1988.

Myers, Rollo. Modern French Music. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1971.

_______. "A Music Critic in Paris in the Nineteen-Twenties: Some Personal Recollections." The Musical Quarterly 63, no. 4 (October 1977): 524-544.

Nedbal, Miloslav. Bohuslav Martinů. Prague: Panton, 1965.

Nettl, Paul. "Czechs at home and far away." Modern Music 17, no. 3 (March-April 1940): 160-163.

Novák, Stanislav. “O Bohuslavu Martinů.” [About Bohuslav Martinů]. Tempo, hudební mĕsíčník v Praze, 18 (1946): 47-52.

Paige, Diane M. "Women in the Operas of Leoš Janáček.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2000.

Parker, H. T. "Boston’s First Times." Modern Music 10, no. 4 (May-June 1933): 219-223.

Pečman, Rudolf. Bohuslav Martinů. Brno: Koncertní oddĕlení PKO, 1979.

_______. Eseje o Martinů. [Martinů Essays]. Brno: Koncertní oddĕlení, 1989.

Popelka, Iša, ed. Bohuslav Martinů: Cesty, promĕny, návraty. [Bohuslav Martinů: Wanderings, Changes, Returns]. Nový Jičín: Ministerstvo Kultury ČSR, 1989.

_______, ed. Bohuslav Martinu: Dopisy domů. [Bohuslav Martinů: Letters Home]. Prague: Mladá fronta, 1996.

_______. Martinů a Polička. [Martinů and Polička]. Prague: Panton, 1990.

Porcile, François. La Belle époque de la musique française: 1871-1940. Paris: Fayard, 1999.

Prunières, Henry. "Concert de la revue musicale (11 mars 1938)." La Revue musicale 19, no. 182 (March 1938): 219-220.

“Quintette pour 2 violons, 2 altos et violoncelle, par Bohuslav Martinů (Concert Coolidge).” La Revue musicale 10, no. 11 (December 1929): 173.

Sayer, Derek. The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Šafránek, Miloš. “Bohuslav Martinů.” The Musical Quarterly 29 (1943): 329-354.

_______, ed. Bohuslav Martinů: Domov, hudba a svĕt. [Bohuslav Martinů: Homeland, Music and the World]. Prague: Statní hudební vydavatelství, 1966.

_______. Bohuslav Martinů: His Life and Works. Translated by Roberta Finlayson-Samsourová. London: Allan Wingate, 1962.

_______. Bohuslav Martinů: The Man and His Music. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1944.

_______. Divadlo Bohuslava Martinů. [The Theater of Bohuslav Martinů]. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1979.

Schaeffner, André . "Stravinsky’s Two-Piano Concerto and other Parisian Novelties." Modern Music 13, no. 4 (May-June 1936), 35-39.

Seidel, Jan, compiler, arranger, and harmonizer. Národ v písni (The Nation in Song). Prague: L. Mazáč, 1941.

Shead, Richard. Music in the 1920s. London: Duckworth, 1976.

Siegel, Jerrold. Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930. New York: Viking Penguin, 1986.

Smaczny, Jan. “A Key to Martinů’s ‘Julietta’.” Opera 48, no. 10 (October 1997): 1162-1167.

Smékalová, Jana. Liner notes for Bohuslav Martinů, Works Inspired by Jazz and Sport. Supraphon compact disc SU 3058-2 011.

Steegmuller, Francis. "Jean Cocteau." In Atlantic Brief Lives: A Biographical Companion to the Arts, edited by Louis Kronenberger, 161-170. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971.

Svatos, Thomas D. “Martinů on Music and Culture: a View from his Parisian Criticism and 1940’s Notes." Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2001.

Thompson, Oscar. "New Music Heard Before Christmas." Modern Music 5, no. 2 (1928): 33-36.

Thompson, Virgil. "Now in Paris." Modern Music 10, no. 3 (March-April 1933): 141-148.

_______. "Swing Music." Modern Music 13, no. 4 (May-June, 1936): 12-17.

Uher, Jindřich. Ona a Martinů. [Martinů and Her]. Prague: Český spisovatel, 1995.

Vidal, Pierre. “‘Juliette’ de Bohuslav Martinů.” Unpublished paper presented at the International Bohuslav Martinů Colloquium in Brno, October 1990.

Vomačková, Stanislava, translator. Libretto for Bohuslav Martinů, Julietta. Prague National Theater Chorus and Orchestra. Jaroslav Krombholc. Supraphon compact disc 10 8176-2.

Watkins, Glenn. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmoderns. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1994.

Weber, Eugen. The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994.

I. A New Beginning: Life In Paris
II. How Martinů "Got Rhythm"
III. Of Folk Tunes, Pastorals, and the Masses
IV. Dvakrát Svatý Václave (St. Wenceslas, Twice)
V. An Aspect of Minor/Major Significance
VI. Fin de séjour: Julietta and Musical Symbolism
VII.Conclusion: Martinů’s Parisian Legacy



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.