The Invisible Music

Aneta Freislerová Studie 2014

In 1999, Štochl composed the opus Troufalost[2] (Assurance) for mezzosoprano, vibraphone, percussions and harp as his first opus with lyrics by Vladimír Holan. Later, he returned to this poet in the opus Úniky k radosti[3] (Escapes to Joy). Troufalost was played at least twice: on December 2nd 2002 in the Church of St. Lawrence in Prague and on June 29th in Moravian town Kroměříž. No official record or score has been issued, the only existing written record is the manuscript. Such a situation would be strange enough in the area of literature, but in the conditions of Czech music world, it is regrettably common.

Štochl’s opus is based on Holan’s poem Troufalost, which is part of the lyrical collection Bolest (Pain) written already in the 1950s and issued after many years in 1965. It is worth mentioning that this poem has deeper connotations, because it was dedicated to the memory of the excellent writer and Catholic priest Jakub Deml, with whom Holan corresponded.


Památce Jakuba Demla

Toužil jsi už dávno napsat báseň

tak prostou a průzračnou, že by byla neviditelná,

nikomu na obtíž zde, ale možná čtená

andělem!... A přemýšlel jsi často,

o čem by taková báseň měla zpívat,

i když cítíš, že o čemkoli,

jenomže tak prostě a průzračně,

že by musila být neviditelná…


To the memory of Jakub Deml

You have already formerly desired to write a poem

so plain and pellucid that it would be invisible,

to nobody a burden here, but maybe red

by an angel!... And you have often thought,

what about such poem ought to sing,

in spite of your feeling that about anything,

although so plainly and pellucid,

that it would have to be invisible...

The instrumentation contains three violas, vibraphone, percussion and harp. The opus is labeled as “lento”. Until the start of (mezzo)soprano, three violas with gentle harmonics oscillate in free facture. At this point, the harp only sporadically joins in with intervals and puncts. The segmentation of a sparse and silent text is set into an alternating 3/8 metre, which comes across as intent towards little rhythmical diversity. The (mezzo)soprano solo surprises by the contrast of simple segments and more complicated ones, for instance the verse “Toužil jsi už dávno”[5] (You have already formerly desired) is set to music by two minor thirds dislocated by a half-tone: Toužil jsi (a-flat 1), – (f 1), – (a 1) – vno (f-sharp 1).

The logic of the change of a great number of different bars (or only two types of measures) with commencement of the soprano cannot be explained by strictly rational means and was probably created intuitively under the suggestive influence of Holan’s poem.

In bar 22, the third viola starts with the kept interval of a perfect fourth (a-flat –d-flat), during two following beats. The second viola joins it with a consonance of a pure fifth (d–a) and the first viola with the consonance of a pure fourth (f-sharp – h), which goes to the same kept interval in the following bar, but on the tones e-flat – a-flat. This entire facture, having been completed by the solo of the mezzo soprano, is still led in quiet harmonics (low dynamics pp – p, using decrescendo) and lasts only two and half bars (measures 22, 23 and 24).

A similar figure in the viola part appears almost immediately afterwards in measures 25, 26 and 27. Just in the bar 27, all the kept harmonics do not ring successively, but unisono (all together) in a perfect fifth (viola III), perfect fourth (viola II) and again a perfect fifth (viola I). This way the hexad e – h – c – f – g-flat – des has been created. But if we wrote it to the line, we would find the cluster of minor seconds (h – c – d-flat; e – f – g-flat) among tones.

In bar 27, the mezzo soprano, contrary to the former simple segments, uses a different segment which looks like an anti-figure, since the complicated music form is chosen for the word “průzračnou” (pellucid) in the text. The transcription of their intervals is: major second (f-sharp 1 – g-sharp 1), diminished seventh (g-sharp 1 – f2), major third (f – a), major second (a1 – h1), diminished seventh (h1 – a-flat2), perfect fifth (a-flat2 – e-flat1) and minor second (e-flat2 – d2).

In bars 30–32, the musical setting of the word “neviditelná” (invisible) goes from repetition of note d1 to speaking (which accentuates the word by repeating it). That usage of a speaking voice is probably timbre-oriented and its realization depends on the abilities of the mezzosoprano singer, because such a difficult task might possibly damage the continuity of the opus or its color.

One of the high points of the poem, the words “nikomu na obtíž zde” (to nobody a burden here) at the start of the third verse, goes along as an accelerated, very skilled vocal line, whereas the instrumental facture stays in the range of its former form. The vocal solo, which invades the almost empty space, looks again like a refined figure situation – according to the text. In this part, the composer doubles the word “možná” (maybe), in a contrary to the original text. And the poet’s original “angel” is enlarged by the composer to “Angel”.

After the end of this line, a relatively long epilogue follows, these 38 measures are divided into five parts:

(1) Violas play, a rising action of the vibraphone and harp, percussion – 5 measures;

(2) Violas play – 3 measures;

(3) Violas tacet – 21 measures;

(4) Violas ppp possibile – 5 measures;

(5) Finale in a narrower sense: vibraphone, percussions, harp;

[1] Born 1905 in Prague, died 1980 in Prague.

[2] ŠTOCHL, Ondřej. Troufalost. Praha, 1999. Score, manuscript, 21 pp.

[3] ŠTOCHL, Ondřej. Úniky k radosti. In: ŠTOCHL, Ondřej. Na cestě k vlídnosti (sound record on CD). Praha: Rosa classic, 2011.

[4] HOLAN, Vladimír. Bolest. Praha: Československý spisovatel, 1965, p. 24.

[5] ŠTOCHL, Ondřej. Troufalost. Praha, 1999. Score, manuscript, p. 4.

Více článků

Přehled všech článků

Používáte starou verzi internetového prohlížeče. Doporučujeme aktualizovat Váš prohlížeč na nejnovější verzi.

Další info