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Program Notes & Synopses

Enhance your patrons’ experience with notes that highlight the music’s humanity and illuminate its depths.

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Martinů: Oboe Concerto

Martinů: Oboe Concerto


206 words. (Recommended companion note: The Sound of the Czechs)
program notes by Chris Myers

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Copyright © 2016 Chris Myers. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution or reproduction prohibited.

Oboe Concerto, H. 353
Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
solo oboe, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, trumpet, piano, strings

Composed 1955. First performance: August 1956, Sydney, Australia. Jiří Tancibudek, oboe. Sydney Symphony Orchestra cond. Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt.

I. Moderato
II. Poco andante
III. Poco allegro

The Oboe Concerto, Martinů’s only solo woodwind concerto, was composed for Jiří Tancibudek, a Czech oboist who fled to Australia after the Communist takeover. Like the Sinfonietta La Jolla, this is a three-movement work prominently featuring the piano in the orchestra.

This is a lyrical piece in which moments of agitation or anxiety on the part of the soloist or orchestra are always coaxed back into joy by the other musicians. The influence of Stravinsky and the jazz of Martinů’s adopted homeland is apparent, especially in the first movement, but in the finale, he returns to Bohemia with a dance that Tancibudek likened to a Czech polka.

In discussing this piece, the oboist said, “the sparkling rhythmical vitality with lots of syncopations, the simple but most original and kaleidoscopic harmonic textures with touches of bitonality and polytonality always resolved, and the fresh, highly personal and colorful instrumentation were the characteristic elements of Martinů’s music which I always found so appealing.”

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