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David Heyes

Vojta Kuchynka: Canzonetta & Desire for double bass & piano (ed. by David Heyes)

Vojta Kuchynka: Canzonetta & Desire for double bass & piano (ed. by David Heyes)

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About the Composition

Canzonetta is originally for violin and piano and was first published in Prague in 1936. It is lyrical and engaging, with a contrasting folk-like middle section that adds drama and energy, with a supportive and rhythmic accompaniment providing colour and atmosphere. 

In ternary form, there are few challenges for the good intermediate bassist with a strong and supportive accompaniment. Echoes of Dvořák and Czech folk music are ever present and this short piece would be ideal for any occasion or audience. 

“Canzonetta is based on a simple lyrical melody in typical ABA form. The middle section makes use of easy double-stops and folk-like drone accompaniment. This piece would be ideal for the intermediate level player who is working in thumb position and learning treble clef.” (ISB) 

Desire is originally for double bass (or violoncello) and piano and emphasises the lyrical and sonorous possibilities of the double bass throughout its solo register. The music is stylish and charming, with an old-fashioned elegance which was typical of the salon at the end of the 19th-century. 

“Desire is somewhat more challenging technically than Canzonetta, but is also based on a simple, lyric melody. There are a few trills and moving semiquaver arpeggios, but nothing that a little practice couldn’t take care of. The folk character and catchy tune make practising these pieces a joy.” (ISB Magazine). 

This edition includes piano accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings. There are two alternative endings for Desire and both are included. 

About the Composer

Vojtěch [Vojta] Kuchynka was born in the Czech town of Nové Strašecí on 7 May 1871. He studied double bass at the Prague Conservatoire with Vendelin Sládek (1851-1901) from 1885-91, and composition with Antonín Dvořák from 1891-93. In 1895 he was appointed 1st Double Bass and Soloist in the Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Folk Art Exhibition Orchestra, also conducted a number of choirs in the Czech capital and for a short time was the piano teacher of the family of Count Fürstenberg. Between 1899 and 1933 Kuchynka played in the National Theatre Orchestra in Prague and from time to time worked with the famous Czech Quartet. 

He gave solo recitals until the day of his retirement when he celebrated his 600th recital, and was known as 'the Kubelík of the Double Bass', after the leading Czech violinist of the day Jan Kubelík (1880-1940). He was praised for his perfect technique, impressive harmonic work, interpretation and tasteful transcriptions of classical works. Most of his recitals were in Bohemia or Moravia and one concert in Prague, reviewed in The Strad by Miss Windust, stated "Alongside the brilliant performances of František Ondříček and Karel Hoffmann it was the admirable virtuosity of Vojta Kuchynka that made the deepest impression on me." He made the first Czech double bass recording for Parlophon, and Prague Radio broadcast recitals of his music to celebrate his 65th and 70th birthdays. 

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