Just as in Czech history, years ending in eight tend to have an almost symbolic significance, in musical history this is true of the number four. The Brno National Theatre was opened in 1884, the life of the composer Bedřich Smetana is bookended by the years 1824 and 1884, Antonín Dvořák died in 1904, Josef Suk was born in 1874, and other composers whose lives are connected with the number four include Kryštof Harant of Polžice and František Václav Míča. However, for the Janáček Brno 2014 festival, the most significant date is the 160th anniversary of his birth. All of the important musical anniversaries are traditionally covered by the Year of Czech Music in an appropriately serious and solemn way. The forthcoming Janáček Brno Festival, with its sub-title of Happy Birthday Leoš, would like to take a different approach; to celebrate the birthday of the eternally youthful composer in a joyful and unpretentious manner. The basic idea is to honour Janáček with the gift of some of his most beloved works. Another facet of the festival will be aimed at younger listeners and their parents: Janáček’s Nursery Rhymes will be performed along with a film projection, Prague National Theatre will bring a performance of The Cunning Little Vixen directed by Ondřej Havelka. This will be accompanied by an exhibition to mark the 90th anniversary of its world premiere. There will also be well-wishers in the form of the Kronos Quartet, whose repertoire will include music by the minimalist Steve Reich, who was inspired by Janáček’s music. Amongst the symphonic concerts will be the composition Variations orchestrales sur un theme de Janacek by the important French composer Marc-André Dalbavie. And above all many celebratory works will be heard. Brno National Theatre is preparing a premiere of the opera The Makropulos Case, while foreign opera companies will also certainly be in attendance. If we add to this workshops, introductory talks by academics, exhibitions, matinée performances, chamber concerts and conferences, then the nine days of the festival will definitely be a wonderful congratulation for the composer who has made Brno famous throughout the world.
PhDr. Jiří Zahrádka, Ph. D.