General information
Title CZVariace na slovenskou lidovou píseň
Subtitle CZpro violoncello a klavír
Title ENVariations on a Slovak Folk Song
Subtitle ENfor violoncello and piano
Title DEVariationen über ein slowakisches Thema
Subtitle DEfür Violloncello und Klavier
Title FRVariations sur un thème slovaque
Subtitle FRpour violoncelle et piano
CategoryChamber Music
SubcategoryDuos for Violoncello and Piano
Halbreich number378
Parts of the composition (movements)Theme: Poco andante, rubato; Var. I: Moderato; Var. II: Poco allegro; Var. III: Moderato; Var. IV: Scherzo, Allegretto; Var. V: Allegro
InstrumentsVc Pf
Place of compositionSchönenberg - Pratteln
Year of origin1959
Initiation of composition1959
Completion of composition12.03.1959
First performance
Performer Topinka, Vladimír
Večtomov, Saša
Date of the first performance17.10.1959
Location of the first performancePrague
Note on the first performanceAlexandr Večtomov (Vc), Vladimír Topinka (Pf)
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBärenreiter, Kassel
OwnerBärenreiter, Kassel
CopyrightBärenreiter, Kassel
Purchase linkbuy
Bärenreiter, Kassel, Kassel, 1988
Call number at the BM Institute: 1147a-e, 1147g-i
Specification of the edition: Reprint of the 1st edition; date on the first page "1960, 1988"
Details of this edition
Supraphon, Prague, 1989
Call number at the BM Institute: 1147
Specification of the edition: Reprint of the Bärenreiter-Ausgabe 3969 from 1988
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Variations | sur le Thème Slovaque. | Pour Vcello et Piano." *** Theme: Slovak song "Kebych ja vedela" from the collection "1000 slovenských ľudových piesní" by Viliam Figuš-Bystrý. *** There exists also an arrangement by Jiří Teml - Variations on a Slovak Folk Song for violoncello, string orchestra and piano or harp (2004), held at IBM library with call no. 1147f. It is marked as 378 A in Halbreich's catalogue. *** Max Baillie arranged the composition for viola and piano (2012), held at IBM library with call no. 1147viola.
About the composition

Bohuslav Martinů composed Variation on a Slovak Folk Song for Cello and Piano at the close of his life in March 1959. The piece was premiered in Prague on October 17, 1959, performed by Alexander Vechtomov and Vladimir Topinka, i.e. about two month after Martinů’s death.

The basis of the composition is formed by the Slovak folk song Keby ja vedela (Had I known) which Martinů selected from the collection of folk songs published by Figuš and Bystrý. The interval of the extended fourth, typical of this song, became the main unifying element of the variations as a whole because it always comes to the fore in innumerable modifications of the basic melody. The introductory theme in F minor, which makes the quotation of the song idiomatic by transposing its second half one fourth higher, is followed by five variations. They do not merely treat the theme, but bring many new and very different musical passages. In them the theme or one of its parts is heard in a new form, often in a different key, rhythmically and melodically transposed. The basic contradiction in mood is manifested by continuous alternation of major and minor keys. In the end all is crowned by the fast final variation in the rejoicing E major key, which only highlights the good cheer and optimism radiating from the entire piece.

Jana Honzíková a Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, 11. 12. 2000

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