A Memory in Czech Language / Canada, May 1946, durata 2:28 minutes
Bohuslav Martinu speaks mainly about his emigration from Europe in the years 1940-1941 and briefly summarises his hitherto stay in the USA.
A part of the broadcast is an interview by Canadian radio journalist, Bagar, who was visited by Martinu in 1946 during his journey to Canada, which he made in order to legalise his and his wife’s stay in the United States.
“It was in the year 1938. I had been present at the first performance of my opera Juliette and had returned from Czechoslovakia to Paris, where I was living at the time. I remained there until the Fall of France, after which other compatriots and I fled from the Germans to the south-west. We wandered through southern France from place to place and tried to procure the various documents that were necessary for us to leave. With the assistance of the American authorities, I managed to obtain a US visa. Yet difficulties emerged with transit visas, especially the permission to leave France. It took about six months to obtain these crucial documents, which at the time were a matter of life or death. Ultimately, I received Spanish and Portuguese transit visas and left for Lisbon, where I waited approximately three months for the ship that in March 1941 finally took me to New York. First of all, I had to recuperate after a year of living on my nerves and in constant fear, and also strove to learn English. We, my wife and I, departed with a small suitcase, having had to leave everything else behind. Fortunately, the renowned conductor Jiří Széll, who when the war broke out was on a concert tour of Australia, had with him the score of my Concerto Grosso, and upon our arrival in New York he returned it to me. I sent it to the famous conductor of the Boston Orchestra, Dr. Koussevitzky, whom I had known back in Paris and who liked the work so much that he immediately performed it in Boston, subsequently in New York too, and commissioned from me the First Symphony.
During my time in the USA, I have written five symphonies which, with exception of the most recent one, were performed by prominent symphony orchestras. Moreover, I have composed a violin concerto for the celebrated violinist Mischa Elman, a Concerto for two pianos, numerous piano and chamber pieces, as well as a Concerto for cello and orchestra, three cycles of folk songs to popular themes and compositions titled Songs on One Page, The Chapbook and Songs on Two Pages.
I would like to come to Prague to attend the International Music Festival, at which my First Symphony will be performed, but I have to be back in the States by the first of July at the latest since I am teaching composition at the summer classes held within the Berkshire Festival.”