May 9, 2010

martinu_c61c5.jpg

(Bohuslav Martinu - The face of modern Czech Composers post-World War 2)

I have always been a fan of the music of Bohuslav Martinu, ever since first hearing this recording as a kid, compliments of my local Salvation Army Thrift Shop. The 1950s signified the end of an era for the 78 rpm record, that heavy chunk of shellac that went amazingly fast around your turntable (or record player as everyone called them) but always broke in a million pieces if you dropped it.

I remember this set very well. It was a book of 78's from the Czech Ultraphone label that contained this first recorded performance of a work inspired by and hastily scribbled down during Martinu's escape from invading Nazis and his eventual migrating and settling in the United States during World War 2.

The piece is dedicated to the French pianist Germaine Leroux and it's this first commercial recording of the work that features her in the role of piano solo in a recording made in 1947. Also featured is The Czech Philharmonic lead by Jaroslav Khrombolc.

The future of Czech music had every right to look promising. Martinu was one of its brightest lights. And he is still being discovered today by countless new listeners. Perhaps this might be a discovery for you.

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