Leoš Janáček Part 2

We left Janáček last week with his marriage in 1881. In addition to getting married, this was also the year that Janáček founded an organ school in Brno. He served as the director there until 1920. In 1919, the school became the Brno Conservatory.

The rest of the 1880s, Janáček continued to teach, compose, and start a family. His daughter Olga was born in 1882.  He and Zdenka had a second child as well, a son named Vladimir.  Unfortunately Vladimir did not survive infancy and died in 1890.  The rest of the 1890s saw Janáček continue to study and collect folk songs.  This greatly influenced his compositional style.

Janáček took Olga to St. Petersburg to study Russian in 1902.  However, she became ill quite suddenly a few months later and he and Zdenka returned to St. Petersburg and brought Olga back to Brno.  Olga did not recover and passed away in early 1903 at the age of 20.  He put his heartfelt feelings into his opera, Jenůfa. It was dedicated to his daughter and premiered in 1904 in Brno. Well received there, it was another 12 years before it would appear on stage in Prague.  When it did, it was a success and Janáček finally started to get more recognition at the age of 62!

After his success at Prague, he started an affair with a singer.  This ended in an informal divorce from Zdenka and Janáček developing an interest in Kamilla Stösslová. A much younger woman who did not return his affection, she became his muse for the final years of his life.

He continued to compose, his works receiving recognition on stages around the world.  He retired as director from the Brno Conservatory in 1920 but taught there until 1925.  In August of 1928, he developed pneumonia and passed away at age 74.


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