Festival Diary: Janacek Brno Festival 2020: Day 4

By Alan Neilson

Yesterday evening I had just finished writing Day 3 of the Festival Diary when I bumped into the composer Krystof Maratka, whom I had earlier seen performing his piece “Prophecy” for piano and folk instruments, which consisted of bone flutes, whistles, stones and other weird and wonderful instruments.

We had an interesting chat in which he explained his fascination with blending art music with prehistoric/folk music and also his interest in the link between astrophysics and music. I asked him if he had thought of writing an opera in which he incorporated prehistoric sounds: he had indeed, but had not fully developed the idea, as yet. He did, however, hint that an opera was in the pipeline, something which should prove to be very interesting.

Because of the cancellation of “The Cunning Little Vixen” the day was a little flat. So I took the opportunity to visit Janacek’s grave which is situated in the main cemetery a few kilometers outside the centre. It certainly did not stand out, dwarfed by the surrounding memorials, and took some time to find. It consisted of a single off-white stone rectangular column with his name, dates of birth and death and a musical quotation from “The Wandering Madman.”

Later I took a tour of the fabulous Maher Theater in which “The Cunning Little Vixen” was premiered in 1924, and where the composer’s body was laid before being taken to the cemetery. The above photograph shows the theatre bathed in red light, a protest against the government’s measures to stop the virus, which are negatively impacting the theaters.