Martinů, Bohuslav (opera) (Jan)
- Jan Smaczny
(b Polička, east Bohemia, Dec 8, 1890; d Liestal, Switzerland, Aug 28, 1959). Czech composer. He eschewed the ethos of both Czech national opera and Wagnerian music drama in favour of more traditional forms of music theatre such as the commedia dell’arte and medieval mystery plays; in his best-known full-length operas, Julietta and The Greek Passion, he nevertheless produced memorable dramas which sit comfortably in the eclectic operatic tradition of the 20th century. His fascination with experiment led him at an early stage to address film, radio and television as suitable media for opera. Although his operas have not acquired the popularity of those of his older contemporary Janáček, Martinů remains one of the chief representatives, and one of the most prolific composers, of Czech 20th-century opera.
Martinů’s enduring interest in the theatre dated from his earliest years in Polička, the small town on the border of Bohemia and Moravia where he was born. His father, Ferdinand Martinů, drew the young Bohuslav into his enthusiasm for amateur dramatics at the town theatre, whose performance traditions stretched back to the early 19th century and whose repertory, by ...