Otakar Ostrčil – Impromptu op. 13 for grand orchestra (1911)
(b. Prague, February 25, 1879 — d. Prague, August 20, 1935)
Otakar Ostrčil was born into a well-to-do family in Smíchov, now a district of Prague. His father, a physician, discouraged Ostrčil from pursuing a career in music, so instead, the son studied modern languages at the Univerzita Karlova (Charles University), graduating in 1903. He then became a language teacher at the Českoslovanská akademie obchodní (Czechoslovak Academy of Business). At the same time, Ostrčil studied music privately, taking piano lessons with Adolf Mikeš (1864-1929) from 1893 to 1895. Beginning in 1895, he studied composition and theory with Zdeněk Fibich (1850-1900). Ostrčil eventually became Fibich’s assistant, and aided the ailing composer in numerous ways; for example, he helped Fibich complete the orchestration of his last opera.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Ostrčil gradually transitioned from being a language teacher, becoming a full-time musician. His first success as a composer came in 1904, with the production of his opera Vlasty skon (The Death of Vlasta). In 1909, he became conductor of the Orchestrální sdruženi (Orchestral Association). He also conducted at the Divadlo na Vinohradech (Vinorhady Theater) from 1914 to 1919. In 1919, Ostrčil became dramaturge for the Národná divadlo (National Theater) in Prague; the following year he was made director of their opera house, a position he held until his death in 1935. Ostrčil is described as being a very strong leader of the national opera: he revived little-remembered Czech works from the nineteenth century while also championing new operas by his peers. He introduced all of Janáček’s later stage works to audiences in Prague, along with efforts by younger composers such as Emil František Burian, Otakar Jeremiáš, and Rudolf Karel. He is considered to have established an especially high performance level, developing an ensemble of outstanding soloists. In addition, Ostrčil was very active in numerous musical societies. …
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