Home Slovenská hudba 2012 Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, No 3, p.282-300

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Slovenská hudba, Vol. 38, No 3, p.282-300

Title: Vítězslava Kaprálová: „… být věrný ideálům krásy a pravdy…“
Author: Lenka Kılıç

Abstract: The status, life and work of Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová are remarkable from many aspects. Being a daughter of a prominent Brno composer Václav Kaprál she was the first Czech profesionally trained woman composer and conductor. Even in the course of her short life she received many accolades, awards and was honoured by important performances of her compositions. She was a student of then significant teachers, e.g. Vítězslav Novák, Václav Talich, Bohuslav Martinů and Charles Munch. She lived only 25 years and her short life was filled by relentless creative composing and conducting work, by cultural activities and many accomplished as well as non-accomplished loves.
Vítězslava Kaprálová was born on January 24, 1915 in Brno in a family of concert singer Viktoria Kaprálová and music composer Václav Kaprál, a pupil of Leoš Janáček. At nine she composed her first piano pieces, at 15 she entered the Brno Conservatory (established in 1919) – the composition class of Vilém Petrželka and conducting class of Zdeněk Chalabala. On June 17, 1935 she herself conducted the performance of her Piano Concerto D Minor, Op. 7 at her graduating concert. The first orchestral score, the first conducting event of a woman composer and simultaneously the first female conducting event in Brno.
After the graduation in Brno the young composer continued her studies in the compositional class of Vítězslav Novák at the master-school of the Prague Conservatoire and at the same time in the conducting class of Václav Talich. She graduated from the Prague Conservatoire with her Military Symfonietta, which enjoyed two exceptional performances – the first one on November 26th, 1937 in Prague Lucerna visited by the president of the republic Dr. Edvard Beneš, and the second one in the Queen’s Hall in June 1938, again conducted by the author, in the frame of the ISCM Festival in London. The concert led to a commission for a new composition from the London subsidiary of the Universal Edition publishing house – then Suita Rustica originated –, however, in the end the piece was not published.
Having acquired a scholarship she left for Paris late in summer 1937. At the École Normale de Musique she entered the class of the conductor Charles Munch. She did not enrolled into the compositional class of Nadia Boulanger due to her language barrier (Munch could speak German), therefore she continued her compositional studies with Martinů. The teacher-pupil relation soon grew from collegiality and friendship into the mutual love. She met outstanding personalities (Milhaud, Honegger) and soon blended in the Czech community (Firkušný, Kundera, Haas). In 1939 she considered a trip to the U.S.A. as an alternative conductor of Jaroslav Ježek on the Voskovec-Werich tour.
She married Jiří Mucha, a son of the painter Alfons Mucha, on April 23, 1940, who had at that time been already detached to the military unit in Agde. He transported his terminally ill wife to Montpellier, where she died on June 16, 1940, from incurable tuberculosis of appendix.
The compositions by Vítězslava Kaprálová are filled by creative fantasy, extraordinary sensitiveness and sound imaginativeness, and despite this controlled by an exact sense for form and structure of the piece. Polytonality and polyphonic voice-leading are typical for her. Namely vocal and piano works are remarkable. Karla Hartl, the founder of The Kapralova Society in Canadian Toronto, is credited with promotion of her music. In 14 years of its existence the society released 4 profile CDs and three fourths of her compositions were published. Besides it participated and financially supported a range of concerts and cultural events joined with the composer.

Year: 2012, Volume: 38, Issue: 3 Page From: 282, Page To: 300

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