Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Music of Josef Suk

It's interesting how an appreciation of one thing can open up a whole new avenue of exploration.
Take The Minister of Chance. It's an audio drama, available free, which I came across first because my Young Man picked up one of their business cards at an SF convention, and which I listened to because it's a sort of spin off from Doctor Who. With a great cast, including Jenny Agutter and Paul Darrow.
The music is beautiful, and because the series was being made on a small budget, they were using music that is no longer in copyright.
Which led me to the new avenue of exploration, and to the work of Josef Suk, who wrote the beautiful theme music used in Minister of Chance. I've just got hold of a CD of his work, performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The music I had heard as part of Minister of Chance was actually part of a longer suite called Fairy Tale, and has the title 'Runa's curse and how it was overcome by true love'. I've just been listening to it in its original context, and it's a beautiful piece of music. It was originally based on an Eastern European fairy tale - so it wasn't too much of a departure from the original intentions for it to be used for a science fantasy story.
I'd never heard of Josef Suk before, but he was Czech - in fact one of the major composers of the Romantic Czech school. According to the sleeve notes of the CD, he studied at the Prague Conservatory under Dvorak (at least I'd heard of him! And I like his music) and he spent 41 years as the second violinist of the Czech Quartet, while also composing. He retired in 1933. He also taught composition, like his mentor Dvorak, at the Prague Conservatory.
So I've learned something about what sort of classical music I like - after all, it's such a vast field! And now I can go looking for more Czech and Romantic works with the expectation that I will probably like them. And it's all thanks to an SF series.

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