Titel: My Life with Janacek: The Memoirs of Zdenka ...
Verlag: Faber and Faber 1998
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Zdenka Janackova's memoirs, published in this book, were considered too personal for publication at the time of her death in 1937. She tells the tale of her extraordinary life with the Czech composer, Leos Janacek, from her years as his young piano pupil to his sudden death at the age of 74. Her story provides firsthand account of Janacek's day-to-day life, and the many dramatic revelations include an account of his tempestuous affair with the singer Gabriela Horvatova, Zdenka's subsequent suicide attempt, and her strange ""divorce"" from her husband (they continued to live together until his death). Among other striking passages are a harrowing description of the long illness and painful death of their daughter Olga, and a forthright account of Janacek's increasing infatuation during his late years with his ""muse"", Kamila Stosslova, and of the events surrounding his death.Review:
Leos Janácek spent the last decade of his life infatuated with a woman 37 years his junior, and she inspired many of the Czech composer's masterpieces. That story is well known. With this book, we hear from the other woman--his wife. Zdenka Schulz was not quite 16 when she married Janácek (he was 27 at the time); to hear her tell it, his unpleasant side emerged even before the wedding, and their relationship went mostly downhill for the next 47 years. In Zdenka's tart narrative, Janácek is selfish, imperious, and absorbed by one flirtation after another--culminating in his passion for Kamila Stosslova, whose husband seems to have tolerated the affair far more than Zdenka did. Janácek's affair with a singer had already led to an "informal divorce," whereby he and Zdenka occupied the same house but led separate lives. However, this did not prevent Zdenka from feeling tortured by her husband's relationship with Stosslova, in whose company he died.
After her husband's death in 1928, Janácková dictated these memoirs; long known by scholars to exist, they have never before been published (this version follows one in the original Czech). Noted Janácek scholar John Tyrrell has translated and beautifully edited the material. He is careful to sort out when Janácková's memory is failing her and when she may be coloring the truth. The book is a companion piece to the more important Intimate Letters (containing Janácek's correspondence with Stosslova), which Tyrrell also edited. After reading this entertaining, ultimately forlorn volume, readers may want to return to Janácek's music for a reminder of the profound emotions he evidently couldn't share with his wife. --David Olivenbaum
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