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«MUSICOLOGICA OLOMUCENSIA VII Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci Olomouc 2005 The present volume was submitted to print on 6 April 2005. Dieser Band ...»

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Obě opery mají historický rámec a děje, avšak minulost a současnost, racionální a iracionální se stále prolínají a jsou klíčem k pochopení současnosti. U Beneše, čerpajícího z textů P. O. Hviezdoslava, splývají biblické časy dvou Herodesů – Herodes v opeře je ale nadčasovou figurou hysterického a paranoidního diktátora. Pendereckého opera ještě zachovává jednotu času a místa – spirála událostí a výjevů v Hostině se odehrává jako permanentní „odcizování“ v různých časech, prostorech, v realitě i v bludech. Navzdory tomu nepůsobí jako celek konfúzně. Hostina však není, jako Černá maska, nepřetržitým danse macabre. V duchu poetiky Hviezdoslava volí skladatel boj zla na jedné straně (Herodes) – na druhé, v postavách Ráchel a Jochanana, boj dobra, oběti, pravdy a čistoty.


Throughout the twentieth century there have been significant dramatic changes in opera: to its episodization (Stravinsky) or, on the other hand, to the movement of the center of gravity from mimesis to the revealing of the inner world of the characters. Under the influence of theatrical poetics there occurred the fracturing of plot, the simultaneous overlapping of various chronological levels. Starting in the 1970s, there was a modern and postmodern disillusionment with a “world without borders,” whose vision in the crooked mirror of absurdity, of the grotesque, and political machinations and Dadaist-parody play.

Artists in the East were likewise interested in the reinstatement of Communist regimes after the Soviet invasions and in parody of totalitarian government and leaders. Two expressionist operas that are similar (though different with regard to dramaturgy and history) testify to this fact: Hostina by Juraj Beneš (1980) and Černá maska by Krzysztof Penderecki (1986).

Both operas have a historical basis and the action, past and present, rational and inrrational, constantly overlap and are the key to understanding the present. In Beneš’s opera, on a text by P.O. Hviezdoslav, biblical times of two Herods overlap – Herod in the opera is, however, the timeless character of a hysterical and paranoid dictator. Penderecki’s opera maintains the unity of time and space – the spiral of events and scenes in Hostina take place as a permanent “alienation” in different time periods, spaces, in reality and dreams.

Nevertheless, it does not produce confusion for the viewer. Hostina is not, however, like Černá maska, a uninterrupted danse macabre. In the spirit of the poetry of Hviezdoslav, the composer selects the struggle of evil on one side (Herod) – and on the other, in the characters of Rachel and Jochanan, the struggle of good, sacrifice, truth, and purity.



RUDOLFINUM – The “Temple of Beauty”1 in the Heart of Prague:

Architecture of the Rudolfinum Music Hall in the Context of Prague Musical Life Toward the End of the 19th Century

–  –  –

Introduction The neo-Renaissance building of the Rudolfinum Concert Hall in Prague is a work of European importance and parameters. Its concept and the gracefulness of its architecture make it a unique artistic undertaking in the central Europe of its era. The Rudolfinum was designed as a multi-purpose sanctuary for culture, housing a concert hall, art gallery, applied arts gallery and music conservatory in a single building. Typologically similar buildings did not spring up in this territory until the 20th century. The concept of the building, reflecting “the Semperian idea of arts synthesis, of which it should be the palace and temple,”2 ranks it with the milestones in the history of European architecture. Church buildings were losing their prominence and the focus was gradually shifting towards museums, theaters and concert halls in the second half of the 19th century. The cult of artists was assuming the preceding function of the cult of saints. The Rudolfinum building represented the monument of bourgeois self-confidence and social/economic position, while its neo-Renaissance style reflected its general cosmopolitan lifestyle.

The importance of the Rudolfinum, however, is not limited to its architectural value.

Czech musicology views it as a historic venue where the premiere performance of the newly established Czech Philharmonic orchestra took place under the baton of Antonín Dvořák – the building became a sort of orchestra logo. After numerous turns of events and a large and expensive renovation, finished in 1992, the building was handed over to Czech Philharmonic orchestra as its exclusive user.3 It currently serves as its home and “work laboratory.” Prager Zeitung, February 7, 1885.

J. Vybíral, „Tři kapitoly o architektuře Rudolfina,“ Umění, časopis Ústavu dějin umění Československé akademie věd, 39/5 (1991).

Since its opening in 1885, the building functioned without larger interventions for 33 years. After the proclamation of an independent Czechoslovak republic, the parliament decided on April 13, 1919 that the building would be at the parliament’s disposal. After World War II, the Rudolfinum – renamed the House From an historical/sociological standpoint, the course of the Rudolfinum’s construction itself and the subsequent musical activities in the Dvořák hall4 near the end of the 19th century are worth mentioning as well. In Czech public perception, journalism, and historiography, the Rudolfinum has always been overshadowed by the more famous (or rather, more popularized) work of both architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz – the National Theater. The root causes are to be found in the political mood and social atmosphere in the second half of the 19th century in the Czech part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The dream of a federative Austria (the priority of a large section of the Czech political scene) did not last long. The announced intention of Emperor Franz Joseph to have himself crowned Czech king was abandoned. The Emperor, regardless of his honest intentions, could not stand the political pressures of the Austrian Germans and (primarily) Hungarians – the crowning did not take place and the dreamed-of federalization gave way to persecution organized by the new government, albeit softened by economic liberalism. The construction of the Rudolfinum was finished in the era of acute political disputes and growing nationalism. The beneficiary and financial guarantor of the project was (in spite of its misleading name) a German financial institution – Česká spořitelna (Czech savings bank). Regarding the Rudolfinum, contemporary Czech journalism has hardly ever found the kind of celebratory patriotic tone it used during the national fundraising campaign and construction of the Czech National Theater. Quite the contrary – immediately after its ceremonial opening concert, the Rudolfinum became the target of stirred-up Czech journalism, outraged not only by the alleged lack of compositions by Czech authors during the opening night, but also by the “neglect” of national traditions in the iconographic decoration of the entire building. The graceful neo-renaissance and related cosmopolitan art ideals in the symbolism of Rudolfinum did not in fact stand in opposition to national artistic emancipation efforts. Česká spořitelna followed the idea of civilizing power of the art it thought necessary to make available for the masses. The patronage of Česká spořitelna, which transcended local interests in its effort to assist the development of music and graphic arts in the Czech part of the empire, remains unappreciated to this day.

The following text, separated into several sections, should outline – bearing in mind the contemporary social life and institutions – the history and the course of construction of the Rudolfinum, illustrate the uniqueness of its architecture, and describe the music performed in Dvořák music hall before 1900 and the related birth of a prominent European orchestra – the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

of Artists – became the residence of three institutions: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of Musical Arts, and th Conservatory. Many parts of the building were used inadequately. The reconstruction project respected the shape of 1885, and both musical and gallery section serve its original purpose today.

The building returned to its original name – Rudolfinum.

Since its construction, the large concert hall has borne the name of Antonín Dvořák. The small hall, originally named after composer Josef Suk, had been a rehearsing room and it has served its current purpose since 1941, the year when modifications of architect Antonín Engel were finished.

The History and Construction of the Rudolfinum

Archaeological excavations have revealed that Jan Palach square in the Old Town quarter in Prague, the location of the Rudolfinum, was the area of a medieval dump. The first city house dates back to the 15th century. The bank was modified to its contemporary shape in 1870s, when a decision was made to use the entire area in a new way.

The piece of land, referred to as Rejdiště,5 was bought by Česká spořitelna after a decision made on May 12, 1872, three years before its 50th anniversary. Construction of Dům umělců (House of Artists) was planned to celebrate the anniversary. The land was purchased by the developer the following year,6 but the construction site was not handed over by the administration to Česká spořitelna until April 13, 1876. It rendered the future building for use to Jednota pro zvelebení hudby v Čechách (Association for the Advancement of Music in Czechia), Společnost vlasteneckých přátel umění (Association of Patriotic Friends of the Arts) and Obchodní a živnostenská komora pro sbírky Uměleckoprůmyslového muzea (Business Chamber for the Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts). The intent was to build a beautiful and distinguished building, worthy of its noble purpose – to support the development of arts in Prague, contribute to beautification of the city and, last but not least, to create jobs for its inhabitants. The resolution to donate money to music and graphic arts was influenced both by the period notions of the civilizing power of arts and by practical needs. Prague in that period lacked a quality music hall, representative gallery and classrooms. The Rudolfinum building was thus conceived as a home for both music and graphic arts from the very beginning.

Česká spořitelna decided to announce a public competition for the design of the future House of Artists. They closely consulted their decisions in the area of architectural design with Rudolf von Eitelberger, a prominent theoretician of historicism in the Habsburg Empire, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts and a professor of Vienna University.

He recommended suitable candidates for the competition and members of the selection board. As the bank representatives wanted the best opinions of the submitted projects available at the time, five prominent Viennese architects, authors of principal buildings on Ringstrasse, were invited to become members of the selection board –Ferstel, Hansen, Hasenauer, Schmidt, and Semper. Eitelberger also proposed a suitable scale for the building and the most appropriate style – Renaissance.

Ten architects registered for the competition and eight projects met the deadline of June 1874 set by Česká spořitelna. Czech architecture was represented by the joint design of Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, and by independent designs of Barvitius, Benischek and Ullman. Among the Austrian architects who submitted their projects were Luntz, Niemann, Thienemann, and Wielemans.7 Requirements of the competition confronted The area Na Rejdišti, later Germanized to Tummelplatz, was allegedly named after a riding-school established under Emperor Rudolf II (turn of 16th and 17th centuries).

Although the building was planned to be given to the city as a present, the councilmen asked a lot of money for the land: 139,317 guldens.

The tenth applicant, architect Köchlin, did not finish his project in time.

authors with a complicated assignment of multi-purpose architecture under one roof.

The assignment was exceptional in its era. Of all the competitors, only Zítek and Schulz realized after the initial sketches that it was impossible to implement the project without separating musical and design elements. However, no design was accepted by the board.

Česká spořitelna therefore decided to commission the project to the author whose design seemed to be the most adequate. Owing to the new financial capabilities of the bank, the originally approved amount of 500,000 guldens was not a limiting factor any more.

The board of directors chose Zítek and Schulz. They benefited from their good reputation, from the advantages of their design, and from their study trip around Europe, resulting in their submission of newly revised plans. The bank management also pointed to the reported intention of the government in Vienna to entrust Zítek with the design of the monumental building of the Institute of Arts planned to be built across the square from the Rudolfinum, since a unified approach appeared to be desirable.8 The project was eventually authorized by the general meeting of Česká spořitelna on June 9, 1875.

The construction committee was also appointed and the request to name the building after the crown prince was sent to the Emperor.

Construction began on June 23, 1876. Water pumping and the pouring of foundations continued until 1878, while the following year the building reached upper first floor and the main façade was almost finished. Assembly of the steel roof frame began in 1880, and the northern building was finished and interior works began the following year.

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