Mediatation on an old Czech hymn 'St Wenceslas' : Work information

Josef Suk ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Ivan Štraus (Violin), Vojtech Jouza (Violin), Karel Rehák (Viola), Jan Štros (Cello), Suk Quartet

This work

Work name
Mediatation on an old Czech hymn 'St Wenceslas'
Work number
Op. 35a
1914-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Jeremy Hayes
Bob Auger
Recording date

Track listing

  • 6:27 min


As the second violinist in the internationally acclaimed Czech Quartet, Suk wrote suprisingly few works for string quartet. This work was written in 1914, at a time of heightened national awareness, for the quartet to perform before concerts as an alternative to playing the Austrian national anthem.

Despite drawing on one of the oldest pieces in Czech music, a hymn to the patron saint of Bohemia King Wenceslas, Suk's meditation never caught on as a Czech national anthem; when liberation was achieved four years later, the Czechs chose a sentimental song by the early nineteenth century composer, Škroup.

As a piece of abstract music, the serenity and simplicity of the meditation is particularly arresting, and its intense climaxes seem to burst with heartfelt national pride. It was first performed by the Czech Quartet on 4 September 1914 and was later arranged for string orchestra.

The Composers

Josef Suk

Born in Krecovice, Suk was initially trained by his father, a chorus master.  Later he took instruction at the Prague Conservatoire, and after that received lessons from Dvorak, marrying his daughter in 1898.  His principal non-compositional musical endeavour was as second violinist in the prestigious Bohemian String Quartet, which took him from 1892 until 1933, only two years before his death.  He wrote two pieces for the medium, his style, like that of Dvorak, drawing on folk style and Romantic lyricism.