The April programme of Series C opens with two composers associated with the city of Brno. Jan Novák was born in Nová Říše, but he received his musical education at the Brno Conservatoire. He also dedicated his Philharmonic Dances to the Brno Philharmonic shortly after its founding and the work immediately became firmly entrenched in the orchestra’s repertoire. Novák was a pupil of Vilém Petrželka, Pavel Bořkovec, and Bohuslav Martinů. Besides classical works, he also wrote music for films including Kachyňa’s Coach to Vienna and Karel Zeman’s The Stolen Airship.
Brno native Erich Wolfgang Korngold was famous for film music. It even saved his life. At the request of the Warner Brothers film studio he travelled from Vienna to Hollywood in 1938, thereby escaping the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. He won an Oscar for his music to the film The Adventures of Robin Hood, which he composed after arriving in America. Korngold decided that he would only compose film music until the end of the war. His Violin Concerto was the first work he wrote after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. In the concerto there is a reflection of nostalgia for the Viennese “fin de siècle” and the work is dedicated to the widow of Korngold’s teacher, Alma Mahler.
César Franck wrote his only symphony just two years before his death, having been encouraged by the success of his Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra. In France in those days, the symphonic genre was regarded as German and after the première of the work, the French critics condemned the symphony as dull, gloomy, and clumsy. Just two years later, it was already one of the most famous symphonic compositions in the entire world.