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THE BBC MILITARY BAND

Synopsis

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Conductor,
B. WALTON O'DONNELL
Smetana was the first great Czech national composer. In addition to a large quantity of orchestral and chamber music, he wrote eight operas, all of which are based on national subjects and folk music. Of these, The Bartered Bride is the most famous and it has an international reputation of being one of the finest of comic operas. Smetana's fourth opera was Libusa, which has strong political significance. Smetana described it as 'a solemn festival picture' and desired that it should be presented only ' on festivals which touch the whole Czech nation '. The libretto is based on a folk legend which runs as follows : ' Libusa, foundress of Prague, finding the need of a consort to help her in ruling the country, takes the unusual and democratic course of choosing Premysl, a wise and noble-hearted peasant, to be her husband. Libusa has the Rift of prophecy, and in the final scene she evokes a vision of the splendid future of her country'.
It was Balakirev who founded the Russian school which included Cesar Cui , Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsahov and Borodin. These men together launched the famous movement which put Russia so definitely on the musical map that, with the exception of Wagner's, no influence has more emphatically made its mark on modem music than theirs.
Balakirev's watchful care of them was neatly summed up by Borodin; he said : ' as long as we were eggs of one laying (meaning Balakirev's) we were very much alike ; only when the chicks were hatched did each have its different plumage and fly off in its own chosen direction '. But throughout their careers, all those younger composers-and others, too, like Tchaikovsky-were glad to acknowledge their debt to his inspiration, and Russia undoubtedly owes him a great deal. His own music-there is not much of it-is of superb quality, rich, vivid, and picturesque; it has been well said of it, of Islamey as much as of any, that it lies on the fringe of immortality. Originally a pianoforte piece, it has been brilliantly transcribed for military band by R. J. F. Howgill.

Contributors

Conductor: B. Walton O'Donnell
Unknown: Cesar Cui

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Feedback about THE BBC MILITARY BAND, National Programme Daventry, 19.00, 2 August 1935
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