In Jaromír Weinberger’s music, melodies and rhythms from Bohemia combine with ingeniously constructed orchestral textures – and all this in the instrumental guise of the Roaring Twenties. The result was a sensational success: In 1930 Weinberger’s Švanda dudák was the most widely performed opera in German-language opera houses (and back then there were over a hundred!) Under the German title Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer, the work became more popular than in its Czech original version, which hardly attracted attention in Prague in 1927. The success was also thanks to the German text by Max Brod, Franz Kafka’s friend and Leoš Janácek’s collaborator. Back then, and for many years afterward, Švanda was performed in German even at the Met and in Covent Garden. In Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, however, the opera disappeared from the repertoire, for Weinberger was Jewish. In 1937 he was still able to produce his Wallenstein at the Vienna Opera, but in his subsequent American exile major successes eluded him. Only the orchestral variations on Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree, conducted by John Barbirolli, were received with warm applause in New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Selected Works by Jaromír Weinberger:
Schwanda the Bagpiper (1927) opera
The Beloved Voice (1930) opera
Wallenstein (1937) opera
Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree (1939/41) Variations and Fugue on an Old English Tune