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Work

Leoš Janáček

Leoš Janáček Composer

Jealousy (Zárlivost; overture), JW 6/10

Performances: 6
Tracks: 6
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Musicology:
  • Jealousy (Zárlivost; overture), JW 6/10
    Year: 1894
    Genre: Overture
    Pr. Instrument: Orchestra
Originally, Janácek intended his operatic masterpiece Jenufa to begin with an overture. Composed at the end of 1894—that is, before he had started work on the opera—the overture he wrote was based in part on the Moravian brigand's song Zarlivec (The Jealous Man), which ends with the lines "I would rather cut off your head than let another love you when I am gone." Although elements of that song recur at points in the opera, Janácek ultimately decided not to begin the opera with its overture for its first performance in his hometown of Brno in 1904. Perhaps Janácek dropped the overture because the tiny orchestra of 18 players was simply not up to the music. But he never did re-instate the overture and Jenufa still starts with the ominous ticking of the xylophone rather than the passionate music of the overture. However, the overture took on a life of its own in the concerthall under the title Zárlivost. Beginning with thundering tympani and low brass, Zárlivost is extremely hot-blooded music that surges and throbs with love and jealousy for its entire length. Written in an approximation of sonata form with a trio of furious themes, a stormy and violent development section, and a fore-shortened recapitulation, Zárlivost has much in common with the fervent Act I aria of Laca, the jealous man of the opera whose disfiguring of the faithless Jenufa is the climax of the act.

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