Czech conductors Jiří Bělohlávek and Jakub Hrůša recorded with the Czech Philharmonic the complete Martinů symphony cycle in the spectacular acoustic of the Rudolfinum in Prague, bringing into vivid relief these significant and remarkable works. Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) is considered the greatest Czech composer of his generation, and a major twentieth- century symphonist. His style is eclectic, unconventional, and juxtaposes a variety of styles drawn from the music of his native Moravia to the jazz of the “New World“.
He made an inauspicious start into his musical career; his temperament was unsuited to the rigours of formal violin studies at the conservatory in Prague, meanwhile he was struggling to find his musical voice as a composer. Nonetheless his talent helped him find a position in the Czech Philharmonic in 1920. In a – for a man with strong patriotic feelings – surprising move, he felt the need to escape the “cult of Smetana“, and left the newly independent Czechoslovakia in 1923 for Paris. There he became part of the avant-garde, experimenting with a musical style similar to “Les Six“, but came increasingly under the influence of Stravinsky, whose complex and sophisticated relationship with the music of his native Russia sparked something vital in the creative imagination of the Czech musician in exile. When Paris fell to the Nazis in 1940, he escaped to the US, living in New York and teaching at Princetown.
His six symphonies, written between 1942 and 1953, come from this rich creative period, all have a very personal signature, and are enthralling, rich and capitivating.