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Diary of One Who Disappeared : Work information

Leoš Janácek ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Graham Johnson (Piano), Philip Langridge (Tenor), Jean Rigby (Alto)

This work

Work name
Diary of One Who Disappeared
Work number
1919-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Marc Brown
Recording date
1995-01-01 00:00:00

The Composers

Leoš Janácek

His father and grandfather music teachers, Leos Janácek was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia and sent as soon as feasible (in practice, at the age of 11) to sing at the Augustinian monastery in Brno.  The choirmaster there, Pavel Krizkovský, was Moravia's leading composer and instructed him personally.  By 1872 he had qualified as a teacher himself and took over from Krizkovský at the monastery.  Further conducting work and an organ course in Prague widened his horizons, and in 1877 he wrote his first published work, the choral Exaudi Deus.  In 1879 he enroled at the Leipzig conservatory, and although subsequent compositions show notable progress he was unsatisfied and transferred to Vienna.

Returning to Brno to marry, Janácek resumed teaching and founded an organ school there.  Teaching obligations, a turbulent private life and a disillusionment with his experiences in Leipzig and Vienna meant he wrote little if at all between 1881 and 1885.  Eventually he resumed writing with works for children, and in 1887 beginning his first opera, Sarka.  Its evolution spanned a landmark period in Janácek's musical evolution - invited by a friend to help collect folksongs in northern Moravia, he renounced his romantic aesthetics and incorporated the music he found into both his opera and adaptations for concert performance.  Pocátek románu (1891) was a one-act opera consisting mainly of adapted folk songs and dances; Janácek later developed it into his first major operatic success, Jenufa (1894-1903).

Turning down an offer to direct the Warsaw Conservatory, Janácek continued to teach at his organ school; his compositions enjoyed moderate success but it was not until his last years that he was to enjoy his most productive period.  The combination of Jenufa's success and his country's new independence led him to write his three finest operas; Kat'á Kabanová (1919-21), The Cunning Little Vixen (1921-3) and The Makropolous Case (1923-25).  He also composed major orchestral works such as his Sinfonietta (1926), and the choral Glagolitic Mass (1927).  Showing few signs of slowing down, he died in 1928 after contracting pneumonia.

Related composers: Antonín Dvorák, Bedrich Smetana, Béla Bartók

Track listing

  • One day I met a Gypsy girl 1:17 min
  • That black-eyed Gypsy 1:06 min
  • Through the twilight glow-worms 1:39 min
  • Already swallows are 0:55 min
  • Weary work is ploughing 0:43 min
  • Hey there my tawny oxen 1:43 min
  • I've got a loose axle 0:54 min
  • Don't look my oxen 1:10 min
  • Welcome my handsome one 2:53 min
  • God all-powerful God eternal 4:09 min
  • From the rip'ning cornfield 3:00 min
  • Forest's shady height 0:50 min
  • Piano solo 2:53 min
  • See how high the sun is! 1:02 min
  • Now my tawny oxen 0:52 min
  • What has come over me? 1:14 min
  • Who can escape his fate 1:40 min
  • Nothing matters now 1:04 min
  • See that thieving magpie 1:29 min
  • Now she bears my child 0:52 min
  • Father how wrong you were 1:07 min
  • Then farewell dearest land 2:23 min


Janacek enjoyed a remarkable surge in creativity late on in life, nowhere better exemplified than in this song cycle composed between 1917 and 1920. Begun just days after he met the beautiful Kamila Stosslova, with whom he was to maintain a friendship bordering on unrequited love until the end of his life, Zapisnik zmizeleho (The Diary of One who Disappeared) relates the tale of a young farmer who deserts his home to live with a gypsy woman. In his letters to the dark-haired Kamila, Janacek openly acknowledged her identification with the gypsy of the song cycle.

Essentially a chamber cantata, Zefka the gypsy is portrayed by an Alto (the low voice suggesting eroticism), and the young farmer by a Tenor. In addition, an offstage 'chorus' of three female voices and a piano accompaniment complete the ensemble. As with many of Janacek's dramatic works, the significant events are often handled instrumentally: the thirteenth movement is a piano solo, but it represents the point at which the young farmer loses his virginity.