Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 1 of 1 items for

  • Author or Editor: Zachary Cairns x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search

As an overt response to the Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia, Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 makes an obvious nationalistic statement. In his foreword to the published score, Husa describes Prague’s use of the Hussite war song “Ktož jsú boží bojovníc” as its most important unifying motive. He says this song has long been “a symbol of resistance and hope.” The author does not debate the work’s nationalistic intent, he finds remarkable that, in 1968, Husa was an American citizen, teaching at Cornell, and using compositional techniques not frequently associated with Eastern European nationalism. If musical nationalism (expressed by folkloric elements) in Eastern European countries can be used to express primacy over avantgarde music, Music for Prague 1968 presents the opposite — a traditional war song submersed in an entirely Western European/American musical language. The study examines several portions of the composition to demonstrate the ways in which Husa expresses his nationalism in a non-nationalistic manner, including chromatic transformations of the Hussite song; the integrally serial third movement, in which unpitched percussion instruments are intended to represent the church bells of Prague; and the opening movement’s non-tonal bird calls, intended to represent freedom. Furthermore, Music for Prague 1968 uses a Western avant-garde language in a way that Husa’s other overtly nationalistic post-emigration pieces (Twelve Moravian Songs, Eight Czech Duets, Evocations of Slovakia) do not. In this light, it will be seen that Music for Prague 1968 fills a special role in Husa’s nationalistic display.

Restricted access