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Emanuel Chvala

Emanuel Chvala was born on 1 January 1851 in Prague (Czech Republic). He studied both engineering (with a specialization on railway technology) and music. His music teachers include Josef Jan Baptist Cainer and Celestin Müller (piano) and Josef Förster and Zdenek Fibich (composition). After his studies Emanuel Chvala decided to earn a living with working in the railway industry and became later the director-in-chief of the Czech state railways. On suggestion of Josef Sladka, a famous Czech poet and journalist, Emanuel Chvala started to write also music critics for several journals and newspapers in 1878. He won considerable success as a contributor to periodicals like "Lumir", "Dalibor", "Politik" or "Hudebni revue". Emanuel Chvala also published the book "Ein Vierteljahrhundert böhmischer Musik" (A Quarter Century of Bohemian Music) in 1887, which was one of the very first surveys of Bohemian music and due to the fact that it was written in German, helped to bring the Bohemian composers to the attention of foreign audiences. Emanuel Chvala was also a great advocate of the works by Smetana, Fibich and Dvorak (who was a friend of him) and published several articles and essays about them.
Emanuel Chvala was member of the Czech Academy of Science and Arts, president of the Dalcrode Society, member of the Association for Enhancement of Bohemian Music, member of the "Umelecka beseda" and member of the Committee of the Ethnographic Exposition in 1895 which shows that he was one of the most distinguished and outstanding figures of Czech music and theatre criticism around 1900.

Emanuel Chvala died on 28 October 1924 in Prague.


Emanuel Chvala also composed music since his study years. Compositions include the opera "Zaboj", several orchestral tone poems like "Spring impressions", "The kermis" or "Folk dances", 2 string quartets, a piano trio, a piano quintet, several compositions for violin solo, many songs and choral works.


In my possession is the autograph manuscript of the full score of the orchestral composition "O posvícení" (The kermis). The work was composed in 1902, premiered on 16 February 1902 by the Czech Philharmonic under Ludvik Celansky and it received dozens of subsequent performances in the following years. It was that much popular that a piano reduction for 4 hands was immediately created by the eminent Czech pianist Jindrich Kaan the same year and published through Mojmir Urbanek. The orchestral version remained unpublished.

The composition is subtitled "symphonic picture" as it describes the day of a kermis in a small Czech village from morning to night. The work is written in one movement, but Emanuel Chvala gave specific titles to sections in the composition that name the ongoing:


  • morning twilight - the day awakes
  • church bell
  • the villagers leave their farm houses: they go to church
  • the church service
  • kermis gaiety
  • the cheerful congregation steps out
  • in love
  • girl
  • boy
  • good bye
  • to the music!
  • in the tavern
  • quarrel
  • music lovers
  • the elderly have a solo. Sousedska
  • three o'clock
  • home!
  • farewell
  • the quiet of the night
  • dreamsong


A review after the premiere described the piece as follows:


"Chvala shows again with ease that a rewarding topic like the Czech kermis and the cinematographic, lively shape of nature and people proves its worth. And even more interesting is: The composition illustrates the mood realistically and the orchestral writing is sparkling."

(in: Dalibor, volume 24, issue 9, page 77 from 22.02.1902)

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