About the Piece

Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra (2200-1010, hp, pno, strings)
Duration: 3 min

Program Note:

Vítězslavy Kaprálova’s Christmas Prelude for Chamber Orchestra was composed in 1939 and originally recorded for and premiere broadcast as part of the Paris PTT Radio program “Noël à Prague,” on Christmas Eve, 1939. The work presents two and a half minutes of a fresh girl’s smile in the form of chamber music. The short unit has an amazingly subtle and fleeting impression like a slightly blurred photograph of a Christmas snowy landscape.

The transparent shepherd’s motif in the color of horn with an oboe is wrapped in a misty lace of small stringed sixteenths oscillating in both modes in major and minor at the same time. The color of the harp with the piano, which occasionally shines through the strings, necessarily evokes an association with the instrumentation of the composer’s pattern – with Bohuslav Martinů, as well as a joyful explanation of the pure major chord from the finely dissonant fabric.

Conductor’s Perspective

A really nice short yet different “Christmas music” for chamber orchestra. The string parts have some fast but manageable passages, while the unique timbre palette from its chamber instrumentation is a real gem.

The major difficulty is obtaining the parts. The rental fee is very little, while you have to deal with Czech bureaucracy and international shipping. The process was just long but really worth the trouble.

About the Composer

Vitezslava Kapralova (Brno 1915-Montpellier 1940) is an important twentieth-century Czech composer. A child prodigy, she started composing at nine, and at fifteen she entered the Brno Conservatory. Her music was much admired by Rafael Kubelik who premiered her orchestral song Waving Farewell and performed several other works. In 1946, in appreciation of her distinctive contribution, the foremost academic institution in the country – the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Arts – awarded Kapralova membership in memoriam. By 1948 this honor was bestowed on only 10 women, out of 648 members of the Academy. Only one of the ten women was a musician – Kapralova.

Kapralova’s creative output includes her highly regarded art-songs and music for keyboard, music for cello and piano, violin and piano, a reed trio, a string quartet, two piano concertos, a concertino for clarinet, violin and orchestra, two orchestral suites, a sinfonietta, two choruses, and an orchestral cantata. Some of Kapralova’s music was published during her life (Pazdirek, HMUB, Melantrich, and La Sirene éditions musicales), and continued to be published following the composer’s death (some works in multiple editions) by various publishing houses at home and abroad. (taken from The Kapralova Society)

Performance Materials

● Score is available for purchase, while parts are rental only; both from Czech Radio. (very affordable with some shipping cost)

Contact: Jana Honzikova, M. A.
Czech Radio
Commercial Department / Czech Music Fund
Vinohradska 12 | 120 99 Praha 2
tel.: +420 221 553 361
e-mail: jana.honzikova@czechradio.cz | www.czechradio.cz

● First Page of the Score Preview from Czech Radio

● Music Rental from Schott Music


Recording on YouTube by the University of Michigan Orchestra