What's New Political Classical Preview

Nov 4, 2016

Karel Husa
Credit John Clare

A new program airs Sunday and Tuesday nights on WBAA Classical: What's New. Host John Clare features new music, new releases, and interesting guests. Hear a special preview of this week's What's New, and let us know what you think.


We'll hear music with a political slant by Steven Stucky (August 4, 1964), Michael Daugherty (Jackie-O), and Victoria Bond (Mrs. President). A landmark wind ensemble work by Karel Husa (Music for Prague 1968) will be featured.

Three main ideas bind the composition together. The first and most important is an old Hussite war song from the 15th century, "Ye Warriors of God and His Law," a symbol of resistance and hope for hundreds of years, whenever fate lay heavy on the Czech nation. It has been utilized also by many Czech composers, including Smetana in My Country. The beginning of this religious song is anounced very softly in the first movement by the timpani and concludes in a strong unison (Chorale). The song is never used in its entirety.

The second idea is the sound of bells throughout; Prague, named also the City of "Hundreds of Towers," has used its magnificently sounding church bells as calls of distress as well as of victory.

The last idea is a motif of three chords first appearing very softly under the piccolo solo at the beginning of the piece, in flutes, clarinets and horns. Later it reappears at extremely strong dynamic levels, for example, in the middle of the Aria.

Different techniques of composing as well as orchestrating have been used in Music for Prague 1968 and some new sounds explored, such as the percussion section in the Interlude, the ending of the work, etc. Much symbolism also appears: in addition to the distress calls in the first movement (Fanfares), the unbroken hope ofthe Hussite song,sound of bells, or the tragedy (Aria), there is also the bird call at the beginning (piccolo solo), symbol of the liberty which the City of Prague has seen only for moments during its thousand years of existence. - Karel Husa