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The Intersection of Culture, Music Theory Innovation, and Ethnomusicological Ideation in Leoš Janáček’s Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905

Šárka Stehnová, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905 highlights Leoš Janáček’s lifelong beliefs and goals. However, Janáček’s most prominently considered works abroad are his orchestral pieces, such as Sinfonietta, Suite, and Taras Bulba and his operas, including Šárka, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Jenůfa. This document takes a closer look at Janáček’s life, writing endeavors, and composition techniques, and how these factors display the importance of Janáček’s Piano Sonata. The first chapter discusses the composer’s upbringing in Hukvaldy, the problematic translations of the word “Czech,” and the underlying regions Czechs identify with, as well as Janáček’s first formal music education in Brno. This document also looks at his transformation over the span of three years, from Praha (Prague), Leipzig, and Vienna, and how these cities influenced Janáček’s writing, works, and politics. The second chapter introduces Janáček’s critical writings, specifically his magazine, Hudební Listy. It outlines the composer’s relationship with the Beseda organization, pedagogical thinking, and aesthetic values. His hard work is evident, yet his quality did not always amount to success. Janáček’s style of writing is analyzed in the third chapter via philosophies of Wilhelm Wundt, Hermann von Helmholtz, and Johann Friedrich Herbart. His obsessive use of precision is credited to the time measurement tool, Hipp’s Chronoscope. Both discoveries merged with Janáček’s unique approach to music theory and speech melody theory. Additionally, collecting Moravian and Slovak folk music distinguished Janáček from other Czech composers, and often lead to comparison with Béla Bartók. The final portion directly analyzes the Piano Sonata, which is influenced by the early 20th century political situation in Brno. Also examined is Janáček’s dynamic writing, as well as his use of “sčasovka” and “spletná,” his two unique composing phenomena, with specific examples provided. Although the piano music of Leoš Janáček seems modest compared to his larger body of work, this analysis suggests that his solo repertoire requires a mature pianist with a full dynamic range of coloring and sensitive pedaling.

Subject Area

Music|Performing Arts|Music history

Recommended Citation

Stehnová, Šárka, "The Intersection of Culture, Music Theory Innovation, and Ethnomusicological Ideation in Leoš Janáček’s Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29167641.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI29167641

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