General information
Title CZLoutky II
Subtitle CZpět klavírních kusů
Title ENPuppets II
Subtitle ENfive pieces for piano
Title DEMarionetten II
Subtitle DEfünf Klavierstücke
CategoryWorks for Keyboards
Halbreich number116
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Puppet Show. Valse 2. Harlequin. Scherzo 3. The Colombine Recollect. Intermezzo 4. The Sick Puppet. Chanson triste 5. Colombine Sings. Chanson à la Grieg
Dedicatee Maxová, Zdenka
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationZdeně Maxové [No. 2]
Note on the dedicationDedicated to Zdena Maxová.
Place of compositionPolička
Year of origin1918
Initiation of composition1914
Completion of composition1918
First performance
Autograph deposition
InstitutionCzech Museum of Music
OwnerČeské muzeum hudby
Autograph deposition 2
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
OwnerCentrum Bohuslava Martinů v Poličce
Note on the autograph depostitionSecond autograph of No.3; second autograph of Nos. 2 and 5 located at the BM Centre as well (deposit of the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation).
CopyrightBärenreiter Praha
Purchase linkbuy
Mojmír Urbánek, Prague, 1925
Call number at the BM Institute: 1090b
Specification of the edition: 1st edition
Details of this edition
Mojmír Urbánek, Prague, 1948
Call number at the BM Institute: 1090a
Specification of the edition: 2nd edition [?]
Details of this edition
Bärenreiter, Kassel, Kassel, 1955
Call number at the BM Institute: 1089
Details of this edition
Bärenreiter Praha, Prague, 1955
Call number at the BM Institute: 1090
Details of this edition
Bärenreiter Praha, Prague, 2005
Call number at the BM Institute: 1090 rev vyd.a,b
Specification of the edition: 10th edition
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Further published by Státní hudební vydavatelství (SHV), Prague 1956, Editio Supraphon, Prague 1982, Moscow 1985 (illegal edition), Bärenreiter Kassel 1992, Editio Bärenreiter, Prague 1995, 2005.
About the composition

Considering the prominence of the set of fourteen piano compositions collectively titled Loutky (Puppets) in the catalogue of early works by Bohuslav Martinů, surprisingly little is known about the exact time and circumstances of their composition. All that is certain is that they represent the composer's first works that go beyond the threshold of awkward experimentation. They quickly found publishers, and thanks to their lasting popularity, especially With Young performers, they have appeared successively in numerous editions. They take as a theme the characters of the Italian commedia dell'arte: Pierrot, Colombine and Harlequin, With dances, ballroom scenes and excerpts from the puppets' "private lives". Three books of Puppets were composed successively from 1912 to 1925, and apart from the title they differ from each Other in perhaps every way, from varying aesthetic approaches (compare, for example, the gulf between Waltz of the Sentimental Puppet from 1912 and the composition The New Puppet, subtitled "Shimmy", which Martinů composed twelve years later, a year after having moved to Paris) to the gradual development of his piano writing. The established numbering of the pieces does not, however, correspond to their chronological order, the books having been composed in exactly the opposite sequence. Therefore, their numbering in the catalogue of Martinú's works is as follows: Puppets I is number H 137 (recte 149/150), Puppets Il is H 116 and Puppets III is H. 92. 

At a time when his focus was on composing programme music and intimate lyrical works for voice and large orchestra, in Puppets Martinů found a departure point for the Shaping of his own musical mode of expression: for solo piano he composed didactic programme music about mechanical figures without the need for (and possibility of) illustrating their psychology (for similar reasons, in the early 20th Century the poetics of puppet theatre also attracted such artists as Maeterlinck and Manuel de Falla). All of the pieces are written as if for the Stage of a puppet theater, so they are very light in their expression. This circumstance, together With the simple piano writing of a collection intended for didactic purposes, gives the music a notably "objective" feeling that is somewhat unusual for Martinú during this period.

In his monograph, Miloš Šafránek relates that Martinú performed some of the pieces from the third book, H 92, in 1912 for a small society known as Kruh (The Circle) that met at the National House in Prague's Smíchov district. At that time, Jaromír Fiala, a member of the society, is said to have copied four pieces from the manuscript collection Melancholic Songs about Puppets: Pierrot's Serenade (now Puppets Ill, No. 1), The Sick Puppet (Puppets Il, 4), Waltz of the Sentimental Puppet (Ill, 2) and Harlequin (Il, 2). Fiala's information reprents the oldest, if oblique, documentation of the existence of these pieces; it also indicates that Martinů composed Puppets continuously and that their division into individual books was the result of later sorting. Moreover, it implies that Puppets constitutes a closed cycle neither thematically (the sequence of the pieces does not tell any story, and their titles have only a very general relationship to their musical content) nor musically. 

The fact that the autograph scores for Puppets Il and Ill contain both Czech titles and their German translations suggests that Martinů may have been considering giving them to a foreign publisher. Perhaps he had in mind the Viennese publisher Universal Edition, which at that time was helping several Czech composers (Leoš Janáček and Vítězslav Novák among them) onto the international scene. In the end, however, it was the Prague publisher František Chadím who undertook to print the third, earliest book of Puppets. Both of the other books were issued by the renowned Prague publisher Mojmír Urbánek in 1925 (Puppets Il) and 1926 (Puppets l). In the autograph score to Puppets l, along with the original Czech titles, German and French equivalents were added in a foreign hand. AIthough we find no dedication there, in the typescript list of Martinů's compositions made by Karel Šebánek in 1938 with the composer's coperation, Puppets I bears the dedication "To Harry Faul".

Aleš Březina, Bohuslav Martinů: Puppets, © 2008 Editio Bärenreiter Praha


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