Leos Janacek is increasingly recognized as one of the major operatic masters of the early twentieth century. In Janacek beyond the Borders, Derek Katz presents an interpretive and critical study of Janacek's major operas that questions prevailing views of the composer's relationship to the Czech language and to Slavic culture and demonstrates that the operas are deeply indebted to various existing operatic traditions outside of the Czech-speaking realm. Katz discusses the implications for Janacek's operas of the composer's notorious "speech-melody" theories and of his fascination with Russia. He also points out revealing and persuasive parallels to certain major operas in non-Czech traditions -- French, Italian, and German -- that deserve notice and that demonstrate how the composer developed a practical operatic aesthetic through emulation and creative adaptation. In this fresh and novel approach, Katz goes beyond the normal evidentiary record (letters, sketches, and published writings) and allows Janacek's works to speak for themselves.
Derek Katz is Associate Professor of Music History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written about Czech music for American and European academic journals and for the New York Times.