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INTIMATE LETTERS Leos Janacek to Kamila Stosslova

Leos Janacek

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ISBN 10: 0571225101 / ISBN 13: 9780571225101
Published by Faber & Faber, London, 2005
Used Condition: Very Good + Soft cover
From M B Books (Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, United Kingdom)

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397pp. Edited and translated by John Tyrrell. A very clean copy free of inscriptions looking little used. Bookseller Inventory # 927592

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Bibliographic Details

Title: INTIMATE LETTERS Leos Janacek to Kamila ...

Publisher: Faber & Faber, London

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Very Good +

About this title


In 1928 Leos Janacek completed 'Intimate Letters', his String Quartet No. 2, just a few months before he died at the age of seventy-four. This work encapsulated musically all his passionate feelings about Kamila Stoesslova, the married woman nearly forty years his junior to whom Janacek had written hundreds of letters in the past decade. John Tyrrell has compiled and translated a selection of these letters and presents them together with some mostly unknown photographs, a decoding of the erotic references in the letters and a diary of the couple's meetings.The result is a remarkable book which illuminates the inner life of one of the greatest opera composers of the twentieth century.


Leos Janácek met Kamila Stösslová in 1917, when he was 63 and she was 25. She--not his wife of nearly 50 years--was the Czech composer's great love. Janácek's passion for Stösslová coincided with the astonishing artistic flowering of his last decade, and he considered her the inspiration for several works, especially Kát'a Kabanová and the String Quartet No. 2 ("Intimate Letters"). Since both were married to others and lived in different cities, they interacted largely through their correspondence, which provides an incomparable view of one of the 20th century's quirkiest and most rewarding composers.

Janácek's letters are filled with an ebullient poetry; he invented fanciful metaphors--to describe Kamila's breasts, his loneliness--and wove variations on them in letter after letter. (Selections from Stösslová's few surviving letters are interspersed; Janácek burned most, at her request.) After the relationship became more intimate in 1927, he wrote almost daily and his language grew rapturous. He refers to her as his wife or imagines that she's pregnant (though they evidently never consummated the "marriage").

While holding to the busy schedule of an increasingly famous composer, he was more and more obsessed with Stösslová. Janácek's late music jumps with restless invention from one theme to another; it's not hard to observe a similar habit of mind here, as he shifts from Wagnerian flights of ecstasy to fussy advice about Kamila's health. Janácek scholar John Tyrrell, who edited the memoirs of the composer's wife, My Life with Janácek, provides illuminating editorial guidance. --David Olivenbaum

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