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Leoš Janáček (1854-1928): Pohádka (Fairy Tale)

May 15, 2023

I have always been fascinated by Janáček’s music since I got known with his piano composition “In the Mists”. “Fairy Tale” and “In the Mists” were written around the same time, at a difficult time for Janáček, following the death of his daughter Olga and when he was still seeking musical recognition.  If you don’t know “In the Mists”, you would like to know it, whether playing it or listening to it.

I understand Janáček was deeply attracted to Russian literature or culture. “Pohádka” is based on an epic poem by the Russian author, Vasily Zhukovsky, entitled The Tale of Tsar Berendyey, which unsurprisingly stimulated Janáček’s interest in Russian culture. The composition evokes scenes from the tale and you hear Janáček’s sensitive and delicate mind throughout. This reminds me pretty much of Schubert’s music. The outcome of their music is almost opposite, but their mind goes through similar paths. This is from Franz Schubert’s famous quote: “When I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing sorrow, it was transformed for me into love.” I feel this quote in Janáček’s music as well.

Well.. I made an unusual connection, but that is what I feel about their music. Janáček or Schubert? I will take both composers.