General information
Title CZTři fragmenty z opery Juliette
Title ENThree Fragments from the Opera Juliette
Title DEDrei Bruchstücke aus der Oper Juliette
Title FRTrois fragments de l'opera Juliette [auth.]
CategoryOrchestral Music
SubcategorySuites and Abstracts of the Incidental
Halbreich number253 A
Parts of the composition (movements)1) 2nd act, 3th scene (Scene of Memories); 2) 2nd act, 4th and 5th scene (Scene in the Forest); 3) 3rd act, interlude and 8th scene (Finale of Act III)
Instruments1) Pf; 2), 3) 3322-4331-Timp-Batt-Camp-Fisarm-Pf-Archi
List of characters1) A, Bar, B; 2) S, T, Bar, 4 female voices; 3) S, T, 3 Sp
Place of compositionParis
Year of origin1939
Initiation of composition1939
Completion of composition16.04.1939
First performance
Performer Davislim, Steve
Kožená, Magdalena
Mackerras, Charles
Date of the first performance11.12.2008
Location of the first performancePrague, Rudolfinum
Note on the first performanceSir Charles Mackerras (cond.), Magdalena Kožená (Juliette, S), Steve Davislim (Michel, T)
Ensemble Česká filharmonie (Czech Philharmonic)
Česká filharmonie
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička
OwnerCentrum Bohuslava Martinů v Poličce
Note on the autograph depostitionAutograph score of fragment No. 2 (Scene of Memories), for voices and piano. On the title page numbered as "I.", but it was crossed out later.
Autograph deposition 2
InstitutionTheatrical and Literary Agency
OwnerDilia – Divadelní a literární agentura
Note on the autograph depostitionAutograph score of fragments No. 2 (Scene in the Forest) and No. 3 (Finale of Act III). Numbers II and III on title pages were later crossed out and changed to I and II. *** Autograph piano reduction of fragments No. 1 and No. 3 (owned by the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation) are deposited at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightDilia, Prague
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Martinů used the original text by Georges Neveux in Three Fragments. *** See H 253. *** In the published score from 2008 (Dilia, Prague, ed. Aleš Březina), the order of fragments is 2, 1, 3; the Scene of Memories begins by the scene of meeting of Michel with the Old Man Youth – the character of Michel and orchestral introduction is added.
About the composition

Three Fragments from the Opera Juliette, H 253 A, represent an absolute exception in the work of Bohuslav Martinů. Never before or since has he made any similar vocal-instrumental cross-section from any of his many stage works (we do not count several purely orchestral suites). A possible prototype for him were Alban Berg's "Drei Bruchstücke aus Wozzeck" op.7 for soprano and orchestra (1924). The three fragments are thus another of the many proofs of the degree of seriousness that Martinů attached to this central work. The opera Juliette (The Key to Dreams), H 235 was created in Paris between May 17, 1936, and January 24, 1937. The libretto was written by the composer himself based on the play by Georges Neveux Juliette où la Clé des Songes. The successful premiere took place on March 16, 1938, at the National Theater in Prague, conducted by Václav Talich, directed by Jindřich Honzl and set by František Muzika. By making Three Fragments a year after the premiere of the opera, Martinů wanted to ensure greater publicity for his work and get it to the next opera stage. Apparently, he was afraid that the Prague premiere sung in the Czech language would not provide him with sufficient publicity in other European countries. Therefore, he wanted to place excerpts from the most important scenes in the French version on French radio, as evidenced by his letters to his family in Polička (March 30, 1939, ie before the completion of the Three Fragments, he announces that the radio will play "the big scene" from Julietta here), on the one hand to his French colleague Jean Aubra (on May 17, 1939, he wrote to him that he offered 3 scenes from Julietta to conductor Manuel Rosenthal for radio performance, but that they had not done anything yet), and finally to his friend and later biographer Miloš Šafránek, the cultural council of the Czechoslovak embassy in Paris and especially as a good expert on the French cultural scene also his possibilities (June 2, 1939, he asked him to place the 3 fragments from Julietta somewhere). The performance on French radio did not take place in the end, probably due to the rapidly deteriorating international political situation, and the composer's concerns proved to be quite justified - Julietta's second production did not take place until January 25, 1959, 21 years after the premiere and only a few months before the composer's death. It took place at the Hessen State Opera in Wiesbaden.

During World War II, the Fragments were forgotten and apparently a little forgotten by the composer himself, as evidenced by the fact that in 1947 he did not offer them for publication by Melantrich, which was then preparing to publish the score, operating material, and Julietta's piano reduction. The autographs were then missing for a long time. According to information from Harry Halbreich's catalog, the autograph of the piano reduction was long owned by the composer's wife, Mrs. Charlotte Martinů. However, her estate, which is located in the Bohuslav Martinů Memorial in Polička, no longer contained it and it was not known to whom she donated it. The new owner was not found until the 1990s, and subsequently, the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation managed to buy the autograph of the piano reductions "La scene de la forêt" and "Finale du IIIe acte" from the private property of this German collector and former friend Mrs. Martinů. ("La scene de souvenirs” is not in this autograph). During the preparation of the first printed edition in 2007, an autograph of the score Three Fragments unexpectedly appeared in the archives of the DILIA agency, which together with the piano reduction became a model for the edition of the work.

Aleš Březina, Harmonie, 10/2008

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