A festival of (spelling risk)

A festival of (spelling risk)


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2015

New release from Chandos Records.



We’re not being diacritical, but they proofread that cover 37 times.

Thirty years after having recorded Dvořák’s complete Symphonies on Chandos, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and its laureate conductor Neeme Järvi tackle another romantic Czech composer: Julius Fučík, famous for his more than 400 polkas, marches, and waltzes, some of the best of which are featured here. Fučík studied violin in his early years, switching later to the bassoon, with a subsidiary in percussion and timpani. Playing in Austrian regiments, he gained invaluable experience of writing for military band and became a very prolific composer of marches. The most famous of these is of course Entry of the Gladiators, completed in 1899 and performed throughout the world ever since. Full of energetic, effervescent Bohemian cross-rhythms, tuneful brass melodies (often now associated with a circus atmosphere), but also more lyrical expressions, this album is a festival in itself.


  • Alasdair Munro says:

    They could have had more than one composer represented. How about Fucik ‘n Scheidt?

  • PDQ.BACH says:

    Comrade Lebrecht, you are under arrest under article 58.10 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic!

    Seriously, during the Soviet era, such a joke would have sent you straight to the slammers, the Gulag, or worse.

    It so happens that Julius Fučík had a nephew by the same name, who became a Communist activist, was involved in the Czech Resistance against the Nazis, got caught, was tried in Germany by the infamous Volksgerichtshof and murdered at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin in 1943.

    Posthumously, Fučík neveu was hailed and incensed as a great Communist hero, with many places and institutions named after him all over the Eastern bloc. Any misspelling would have actually spelt disaster for its perpetrator, no matter how innocent or inadvertent. Musical programmes and sheet music were not exempt from scrutiny: a misspelling of Fučík oncle could well be interpreted as lèse-majesté against the homonymous nephew. I met an old typographer in Leipzig, a distinguished pupil of the great Jan Tschichold, to whom such a mishap had occurred while printing a small musical catalogue in the late ’60s. The error went unrecognised, horror was avoided, but the good man lived in perpetual terror until 1989, lest some unduly musical Stasi sleuth uncover the sacrilege.