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Leos Janacek
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Composer
    (July 3, 1854-August 12, 1928)
    Born in Hukvaldy, Czech Republic
    Composed the operas 'Jenufa' (1904), 'Kat'a Kabanova' (1921), 'The Cunning Little Vixen' (1924), 'The Makropulos Affair' (1926) and 'From the House of the Dead' (published posthumously, 1930)
    Other works include 'Elegy on the Death of Daughter Olga' (1903), 'Piano Sonata 1.X.1905' (1905), 'In the Mists' (1912), 'Taras Bulba' (1918), 'The Diary of One Who Disappeared' (1919), 'String Quartet No. 1: Kreutzer Sonata' (1923) and 'String Quartet No. 2: Intimate Letters' (1928)
    Camille Saint-Saens rejected him as a potential student.
    His first opera, 'Sarka,' went unperformed for over three decades because of a dispute over the rights to the libretto.
    He married one of his piano students.
    After he had an affair with a singer, his wife attempted suicide, to which he responded by threatening to divorce her.
    Many of his later works were inspired by his infatuation with a married woman nearly 40 years younger than him.
    Although he could not afford a piano and practiced using a keyboard drawn on a tabletop, he graduated from a Prague organ school at the top of his class.
    Both his children died before reaching adulthood.
    It took a while for him to become nationally known because the director the National Theatre in Prague, Karel Kovarovic, refused to stage his works in retaliation for Janacek writing a negative review of one of Kovarovic's compositions.
    One critic called him 'the only composer I know whose most daring inventions came after age seventy.'
    He incorporated folksongs into his work and, after acquiring an Edison phonograph, was one of the first people to make field recordings of folk music.

Credit: C. Fishel


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