Slavoj

(Prague, 1862-1865)
Complete Introduction : Czech | English

Prepared by Jakub Michl
Online only (2017)

Slavoj [SLA] was published in Prague on the first and fifteenth day of each month, from July 1, 1862 until June 15, 1865, and consists of six volumes, each of twelve issues. Most issues contain about twenty pages; the volumes contain between 232 to 280 pages. Only the year 1864 (vols. 4 and 5) continues the page numbering through two volumes and contains 424 pages. The editor and founder of the journal is Josef Ulm (1826-1865), supported by a close circle of scholars: Zikmund Kolešovský (1817-1868), Jan Leopold Zvonař (1824-1865) and Adolf Pozděna (1836-ca. 1900). In 1865 Vojtěch Kubelka assumes the editorship, but the journal ceases publication after the June 15, 1865 issue.

The purpose of the journal is to inform readers about musical life in Czech lands and abroad, and to publish articles concerning musical theory, history and pedagogy. An important part of the journal is the reviews of concerts and operatic performances, and new Czech music publications. The beginning of each issue contains articles on music theory, history, and aesthetics, and also special remarks on current musical life. Some articles deal with the current state of Czech church music, giving commentaries and solutions according to the tenets of the Caecilian movement. Slavoj is well-disposed to the activities of Smetana, but criticizes negatively the works of J. N. Maýr. In Slavoj 1865, J. Ulm attempts to influence the selection of Z. Kolešovský as the director of the Prague Conservatory. “Úvahy” [Reflections] is a regular review of new Czech compositions and other publications. The next section, “Feuilleton,” comprises the following subsections: “Domácí zprávy” [Domestic News], “Divadlo” [Theater], “Koncerty” [Concerts], “Dějepis spolků zpěváckých” [Choir societies chronicle], “Dopisovatel” [Correspondence], “Rozmanitosti” [Miscellany], and, occasionally, “Zprávy literární a umělecké” [Literature and art news].

“Domácí zprávy” contains information on musical life in Czech lands, especially from Prague and from Umělecká beseda, Prague Hlahol and Prague music educational institutions. The “Divadlo” and “Koncerty” columns are reviews of performances in the Czech Provisional Theatre, the Prague German Theatre, concerts in the Konvikt and Žofín concert halls and the Žofín Theatre. Significant reviews include Prague performances of Richard Wagner (1863), the one-legged dancer Donato in 1864, the violoncellist David Popper in 1864 and pianist Clara Schumann in 1865. “Dopisovatel” gives news from correspondents outside of Prague and informs mainly about activities of Czech choral societies, cultural events, visiting musicians and important changes in the cultural life of each area. In 1863, news concerning choral societies is separated into the section entitled “Dějepis spolků zpěváckých,” and is based on news from local correspondents. The column focuses not only on performances, but also on how the societies functioned, their charters, meetings, excursions, and detailed information about their members, property, standards, repertoire, and chair members.

“Rozmaniosti” are regular reports about musical life abroad. Usually, they include information gleaned from German journals, particularly from Recensionen und Mittheilungen über Theater und Musik and Signale für die Musikalische Welt. The most frequent information concerns opera houses, journeys and engagements of famous opera singers (especially Adelina and Carlotta Patti and Desire Artôt), performances of famous instrumentalists (the pianist Alfred Jaëll, the violinist Ferdinand Laub and Clara Schumann) and obituaries. Each issue concludes with “Listárna redakce” [Letters to the editor], messages to correspondents and information concerning Slavoj subscriptions, borrowing and bonuses of music material to subscribers. SLA’s editors offer their subscribers borrowing rights for music books and scores for a pre-determined period of time. Some of the music titles are also offered as a bonus for subscribers. Lists of bonus titles are added as supplements to issues on December 15, 1863, January 1, and March 1, 1864. Music supplements appear irregularly. The most important of these is the Vocal Mass no. 2, op. 49 by L. Zvonař, composed for the Velehrad celebration of the Cyril and Method millennium in 1863.

One of the main contributors is Z. Kolešovský, considered one of the founders of Czech musical journalism and criticism. In Slavoj, he contributes “Několik slov o českém slohu hudebním” [A few words about Czech music style], concert and opera reviews with remarkable reviews of Tři jezdci for choir by Smetana and Richard Wagner’s concerts. Another remarkable author is J. L. Zvonař. In Slavoj his articles include “Zkumné příspěvky ku poznání povahy a ducha české hudby,” treating Czech folk song, “Hudební vychovávání” [Music education] considering questions of music pedagogy and theory, “Listy ředitelům zpěváckých sborů” [Letters to choir directors], “Příspěvky k vědomostem varhanickým” [Contributions to an organist’s knowledge] and “Slovo hudebním učňům” [A word to music apprentices]. A. Pozděna is author of a number of articles about musical theory, pedagogy and history, focusing on piano technique: “Několik slov o přednesu klavírním” [A few words on piano execution], “Několik slov o tempu” [A few words on tempo] and “Vychovatelské listy hudební” [Educational music letters]. His “Damasus Brosmann” is the first extensive study concerning work and life of this Czech baroque composer. The extensive “Z theorie hudby slovanské” [From Slavic music theory] is an attempt to articulate principles of Slavic music from anthropological view.