General information
Title CZHora tří světel
Subtitle CZpro mužský sbor a varhany
Title ENMount of Three Lights [auth.]
Subtitle ENfor male choir and organ [auth.]
Title DEDer Berg der drei Lichter
Subtitle DEfür Männerchor und Orgel
Title FRLe mont des trois lumières
Subtitle FRpour choeur d'hommes et orgue
CategoryVocal Music
SubcategoryCantatas without Instrumental Accompaniment or with Single Instruments
Halbreich number349
InstrumentsOrg, Coro maschile (TTBB)
Solo voiceT Bar B Sp
Note on the dedicationDedicated to Die Haghe Sanghers (according to H. Halbreich's catalogue).
Place of compositionNice
Year of origin1954
Initiation of composition20.11.1954
Completion of composition25.11.1954
First performance
Date of the first performance03.10.1955
Location of the first performanceBern
Ensemble Die Haghe Sanghers
Die Haghe Sanghers
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBibliothèque nationale de France
OwnerÉditions Max Eschig
CopyrightÉditions Max Eschig, Paris
Purchase linkbuy
Éditions Max Eschig, Paris, 1992
Call number at the BM Institute: 1130, 1130a, 1130b
Specification of the edition: 1st edition - score + choir part
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note English and Czech lyrics: Henry Vollam Morton (EN, In the Steps of the Master); Czech folk song (from a collection of František Bartoš) and the Gospel of Matthew. *** Revision of the organ part: Bedřich Janáček.
About the composition

In the final years of his life, Martinů's music exhibits a distinct shift towards religious or sacred texts.

The Mount of Three Lights, H 349, a cantata written in November 1954, was commissioned by the Den Haag Singers men's choir, a distinguished Dutch choral society with a long-time devotion to Bohuslav Martinů's music; the composer was awarded its honorary membership in 1955. The composition is chiefly a profound meditation on Christ's loneliness in the garden of Gethsemane and his foreboding of the approaching crucifixion. Its libretto, put together by the composer from numerous sources, combines four textual layers: Henry Vollam Morton's short story In the Steps of the Master, quotations from (as well as Martinů's own paraphrases of) the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, Czech folk poetry from the collection Moravian Folk Songs Nexly Collected (edited by František Bartoš and Leoš Janáček), and the composer's own lyrics. 

The stylistic variety of these literary sources finds reflection in Bohuslav Martinů's music. Whenever the lyrics are themselves connected to a certain tune (such as in the case of the Christmas song "What News Then May This Mean", adopted from the Janáček and Bartoš collection), Martinů employs the drone and the Lydian fourth, two characteristic idioms of the Czech pastoral music. The simple text of the church song "We Are Come to Your Temple" is here supported by a plain four-voice organ accompaniment, while the conclusions of several verses are emphasized by fermatas suggestive of the choir chanting during the Curch service. Whenever no such musical template exists (particularly for texts excerpted from Morton's book and the gospel verses), Martinů's music stands out by its dreamlike character and lack of symmetry typical for his late composition. All this results in an impressive collage of various styles of European music, heterogeneous as regards their periods as well as functions. Miloš Šafránek put it aptly when he characterized the overall atmosphere of the composition as one of a "simple village worship". The Mount of Three Lights was premiered by Den Haag Singers on October 3, 1955, in Bern, Switzerland. The Czechoslovak (and later also Italian, in Perugia) premiere of the composition was presented by the Academic Choral Society "The Moravian" in 1957; the parts of the libretto originally in other languages were translated to Czech by the composer himself.

Aleš Březina, Martinů, Řezníček, Fiala, © 2017 ARCO DIVA

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