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David Heyes

Vojta Kuchynka: Two Czech Solos for unaccompanied double bass

Vojta Kuchynka: Two Czech Solos for unaccompanied double bass

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Table of Contents

1. Humoreska à la Mazurka

2. Czech Polka

About the Solos

These two works are believed to be Kuchynka's only works for unaccompanied double bass. They offer musical and technical challenges in equal measure for the intermediate bassist with the opportunity to demonstrate far more than simply technique.

Each abounds with Slavic energy and character, exploiting the entire range of the double bass in music which encapsulates the dance styles and exuberance of Central Europe. An old-world charm and elegance ensure that both pieces will be suitable for any audience or occasion.

"The Polka and Mazurka complement each other beautifully, yet also showcase contrasting dance rhythms and characteristic." [ISB]

"...a cross between Hans Fryba's Suite in the Olden Style and Bottesini. They would make good audition pieces - technically demanding in an entertaining and enjoyable way." [Bass News]

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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