‘His pieces are studies of what music can do without any extra-musical help,’ says conductor Jakub Hrůša of his Czech compatriot Miloslav Kabeláč. Born in Prague in 1908, Kabeláč studied at the prague Conservatory as a pupil of Karel Boleslav Jirák, before going onto work as Czech Music Director for Prague Radio; a position he held throughout the Second World War.
Though recognised as one of the most distinguished Czech composers of the 20th century, Kabeláč’s opposition to both the Nazi occupation of his country and post-war Communist rule meant his music often went unheard by the Czech people. After the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia Kabeláč was silenced, and from then on his work was performed only abroad.
In this video from the Philharmonia Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor Jakub Hrůša talks us through Kabeláč’s background and why his music is richly deserving of a wider audience. In particular, The Mystery of Time, a 20-minute passacaglia (a piece consisting of variations over a repeated bass line) written in 1957; it begins with a whisper and builds up to an enormous, brass-filled climax.
The Philharmonia Orchestra, led by Jakub Hrůša, performed Kabeláč's The Mystery of Time, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances Op. 46 at Southbank Centre on Thursday 22 November, 2018
The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of four resident orchestras to call Southbank Centre their home.