Printer Friendly

Petr Eben's Pisne z Tesinska: A guide for singers, teachers, and coaches.

[Author's note: This article is dedicated to the memory of the late Roy Delp.]


In 1952 The State Institute for Folksong in Brno invited Czech-born composer Petr Eben (1929-2007) to collect and transcribe folksong in the original dialect from the Moravian-Silesian district around the town of Tesin, which straddles the Czech/Polish border. The authors of the two existing biographies on the life and works of the composer have disregarded the arrangements of Tesin songs as "insubstantial" (1) and "unworthy of exploration." (2) According to Czech composer, professor, and conductor Antonin Tucapsky,

Eben's Tesin period is quite marginal and not too important. Songs from Tesin are nice and should be better known. The main obstacle is the strange dialect--a mixture of Czech, Slovak, Polish, and German languages, and for people from different areas, very difficult to pronounce." (3)

Therein lies the complexity of the folksongs and perhaps part of the reason why they are overlooked. The scope of further research proves, to the contrary, that Eben's 1952 study in the Tesin region has broader implications. It becomes clear that the time that Eben spent there was significant when one realizes the number of works that emerged from this experience. The resulting collection of 280 folksongs provides rich documentation of the unique Tesin region, and of the total, he chose eleven and arranged them for voice and piano in his Pisne z Tesinska (Songs from Tesin). Pisne z Tesinska is a set of folksongs that, up until now, has been overlooked, and viewed as a superficial exploration of the Tesin people, the regional landscape, folk culture, and Tesin's unique regional dialect. However, as a cosmopolitan town with much folk culture that continues to thrive today, Tesin is neither marginal in its contributions to culture nor in its place in Eben's work. An ethnomusicological study of these folksongs provides insight regarding the musical and cultural life of an entire region of people to whom even Eben was a stranger.

The focus of this article is to provide voice teachers, coaches, and performers with a rudimentary breakdown of the dialect so that an authentic interpretation may be rendered. Looking at these folk texts provides an ideal platform from which to begin further exploration, study, and performance of these and other songs from this region. In order to appreciate the significance of the set of songs and for performers and listeners to capture the flavor of this region in a concert setting, one should adhere to its unique dialect. Eben's arrangements of Pisne z Tesinska preserve folklore and are a vehicle for the transmission of it.

Readers are encouraged to refer to the appendices in the electronic format of the treatise "A Study of Pisne z Tesinska of Petr Eben" ( that include a word-for-word translation of the texts, an audio recording of the readings of the texts by native speakers, and a 25-minute video documentary presenting highlights of a two-month journey through the Czech Republic supported by a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation.


When Czech composer Petr Eben died in 2007, he had gone from being an obscure academic laboring in a second rate position to one of the Czech Republic's leading and most revered composers. His compositions are universally admired, have been extensively recorded, and were performed by the composer himself, and they continue to be performed by others in the finest concert venues in the world. For one who began in modest circumstances, son of two schoolteachers, who then survived the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, incarceration at Buchenwald, and ostracism by the subsequent Communist Soviet regime in Czechoslovakia, this is an astonishing development.

Eben composed for myriad instruments in a variety of settings: choral, organ, solo instrumental, chamber, opera, orchestral, and oratorio. He composed more than a dozen song cycles or sets, mostly for low voice. It was the genre of art song, divided between arrangements of folksongs and original song compositions, upon which he focused during his professional studies at the Academy. Pisne z Tesinska (Songs from Tesin, 1952), whose texts and tunes come from the Tesin region, held personal significance for Eben because his soon-to-be wife Sarka and her family were from that region.

A postwar revival of national culture influenced Eben and his contemporaries to compose works based on folk songs. According to Dr. Timothy Cheek, author of Singing in Czech: A Guide to Czech Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire and leading vocal coach of Czech repertoire in the United States, "Czech art song reached a peak with Petr Eben in the second half of the twentieth century." (4)


Czech folklorist Jaromir Gelnar interviewed Eben in a radio broadcast in Ostrava in the late 1950s about his work and study in the Tesin region. Gelnar asked Eben to explain the purpose, process, and result of the 1952 journey. Eben explained:

In 1952 Statni ustav pro lidovou piseo [The State Institute for
Folksong] in Brno [now called the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech
Academy of Sciences, Brno Branch] asked the Prague Academy of Music and
Dramatic Arts to select a student who would be interested in collecting
folksongs in the Tisin region during summer holiday. I loved folksongs
so I accepted the offer and went there immediately and full of passion.
I am very grateful that The State Institute for Folksong recruited me
as a student to the Tisinske Slezsko [Tisin region] and Slezske Beskydy
[Silesian Mountains] where I had the opportunity to collect the
folksongs not yet transcribed. I believed that the people, nature, and
folk tunes themselves helped me to understand this music and the local
folklore more deeply. I hope that I have captured in my transcriptions
something of the suggestive atmosphere of the region. While I was there
I experienced profound, emotional, and moving moments. It was really a
wonderful experience because typically you just see the folk tunes in
books or collections or hear them on the radio maybe, but I had the
opportunity to dwell in the landscape of the region where they really
were born and was able to hear the songs sung by the people whose
parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents made these songs. This
was a lovely experience to be in this land and absorb the rich folklore.
In my arrangements of Pisni z Tisinska, for example, this experience
was my main source of inspiration. My assistant Bohumil Indra
[1912-2003] transcribed the words as best he could in our Czech
language, giving more of a transliteration as it were, and I
transcribed the melodies as I heard them sung. This short and succinct
language is reflected in my accented accompaniments. I did not have the
opportunity to work directly with speech intonation as Janaeek did, for
my task was to compose the accompaniment and arrange the songs. (5)


Understanding the location of the Tesin region requires an understanding of the geography and bordering countries of the Czech Republic in general. The Czech Republic borders Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland. The country is divided into two parts, Bohemia and Moravia. An area known as Silesia is located in both the Moravian part of the Czech Republic and in Poland. The Tesin region spans Hrcavy (Czech Republic) and Jaworzynka (Poland) in the east to Bohumin (Czech Republic) and Chalupki (Poland) in the west. The Olse River creates a natural border at the heart of the region where the towns Cesky Tesin (Czech Republic) and Cieszyn (Poland) are situated. This town straddles the Czech/Polish border, lying in the region of northern Moravia and Silesia.

The Tesin region is "the most singing" area in the Moravian-Silesian territory. (6) The songs from the region are diverse in subject and form. They serve as strong artistic representations of folklore and stem from the influences of Czech, Slovak, German, Jewish, and Polish cultures. The vigorously expanding industry of the Tesin region attracted many nationalities of people from different parts of the world who were looking for work. They brought with them their own folksongs. (7)

The Tesin region is one of the last remaining areas in the country with a truly living folk tradition. The folklore event with the longest tradition in the Tesin region is the Mountain Festival in Jablunkov. In an age of globalization, such traditions are critical to preserving a community's identity.


There are many dialects of the Czech language in Bohemia and Moravia. Regional dialects are merely variations of one language, identified by the use of particular words and usually by a distinctive pronunciation. For example, Czechs from Prague (in Bohemia) tend to lengthen some vowels, while Czechs from Brno (in Moravia) tend to shorten them. Literary Czech provides a standard for the whole country, and is taught in schools and heard on television and other public venues. (8) The Tesin region is linguistically mixed and the people speak a dialect known as po nasimu, which means "the way we talk," or "in our own manner." (9) Po nasimu can be identified with the group of Silesian dialects and is phonetically closer to Polish than Czech.

The people of Tesin speak kratky (short), owing to the influence of the Polish language spoken just across the river, explaining why there is an absence of the carka in the folk texts. The carka is the acute accent mark that denotes the long vowels for which the Czech language is known. It is important to note that carkas are found above certain consonants in this dialect, atypical of the Czech language but common in Polish. The dialect contains many differences when compared to the Czech and Polish languages. (10)

According to Cheek, there is no need to try to sound Moravian in singing this music. Czech singers invariably adopt a standard literary Czech pronunciation even for the Moravian dialect. Singers need only sing what is written. (11) This is evidenced in Czech baritone Ivan Kusnjer's recording of Pisne z Tesinska with Eben at the piano. Kusnjer's recording reflects a Czech singer's approach to the songs rather that that of a Tesin native. Kusnjer informed the author, "Even Czechs don't understand some of these words! I added my own variations to the words in the score because I know a few sounds from this dialect. Eben did not say a word." (12) However, for a more authentic interpretation of this work, one is encouraged to adhere to the Tesin dialect.

The complexity of the dialect inspired the search for a definitive pronunciation guide by way of interviewing various people from Tesin. In so doing, matters only became more complicated when different groups of people from Tesin had a different opinion of not only how the folk texts of Eben's Pisne z Tesinska should be pronounced, but also a discrepancy as to which region the folksongs belonged. After an extensive interview process, three groups of people from Tesin have been determined to claim the songs as their own, therefore claiming that they have the "correct" pronunciation: 1) Polish, 2) Czech, and 3) Tesin natives. The people in all three groups speak po nasimu with its own variances, and currently live in Tesin. At home the groups of people speak their native language; the Poles living in Tesin speak Polish, the Czechs living in Tesin speak Czech, and natives speak only po nasimu. While Tesin school children are taught either Czech or Polish in their schools, many still speak po nasimu with their families and friends.

The results of this interview process have proved that a definitive pronunciation does not exist; however, it is the intent of this research to preserve the most authentic reading, translation, and written form of the texts. The Tesin natives provide the most authentic version. Included in the Appendix of the electronic format of the treatise is a reading of the entire folk texts by two natives of Tesin, Boleslav Slovacek and Dagmar Szturcova. This reading represents the most definitive pronunciation and is recommended to be the primary study guide for singers, teachers, and coaches of these songs.

A rudimentary breakdown of the dialect is offered below.

1. The Czech te is given the IPA symbol [t'[epsilon]] where the t is an unvoiced, unaspirated alveolar palatal consonant followed by open [[epsilon]]. The [t'] does not occur in the English language. In Czech, it is considered a soft version of [t], making sure that the tip of the tongue is resting against the lower incisors, and allowing the top arch of the tongue to meet the hard palate. The Czech ti is pronounced [t'i]. The same is for the Czech de [d'[epsilon]], except the [d'] is a voiced, unaspirated alveolar palatal consonant. Likewise, the Czech di is pronounced [d'i]. In the Tesin dialect, the aforementioned letter combinations are pronounced almost as an affricate and can be given the following IPA symbols:te = ce [t[integral]'[epsilon]], ti = ci [t[integral]'i], de = dze [d[??]'[epsilon]], and di = dzi [d[??]'i] in the dialect.

2. In Polish sz [[integral]], z[??], and cz [t[integral]] are identical sounds in the Tesin dialect, but spelled s, z, c. (13) The dialect will have no carka's over the vowels because the dialect is influenced by Polish and is spoken with all short vowels.

3. A strong tendency of this region, unlike the typical Czech language, is to disregard the glottal after one-letter prepositions, as in v okne (on the window), pronounced [v[??}k[??][epsilon]] in the dialect. For singers, this is optional. (14)

4. A few isolated areas in Moravia, including the Tesin region, have either the hard or wrapped [??] or the typical Czech soft l. Sof l and hard or wrapped [??] are used interchangeably in the dialect. The hard or wrapped l, pronounced [w], is more common in the "mountain" folksongs, whereas the soft l pronounced [l'] is spoken in the lowlands, therefore used in the "river" folksongs. The sound [l'] is a voiced fricative alveolar lateral consonant that is always light and forward, like the Italian and French [l], or similar to the occasionally light [l] in English words such as lit [lIt]. The tip of the tongue rises to the alveolar ridge, not too far back, thus avoiding the often dark and thick English [l]. Singers may certainly employ these sounds interchangeably, if desired, but Czech singers typically disregard the wrapped [??] and sing l. (15)

5. All vowels are short (kratky) in the dialect: mila (beautiful), stoji (stand).

6. Most words in the Tesin dialect have different spellings for the same words in the literary Czech language. For example, polic (dialect) is paliti (literary Czech) meaning: burn; staro (dialect) is stary (literary Czech) meaning: old; vrota (dialect) is vrata (literary Czech) meaning: gate; prog (dialect) is prah (literary Czech) meaning: doorstep; sostra (dialect) is sestra (literary Czech) meaning: sister; scana (dialect) is stena (literary Czech) meaning: wall. (16)

7. In Czech pronunciation i and y are discerned as closed i [i] and open y [I]. The local dialect does not differentiate between these two vowel sounds, resulting in both i and y being pronounced closed [i].

8. The dialect contains differences in declension. For example, in the dialect the declined singular feminine form ending is ym (rybym, meaning fish), which is y in typical Czech (ryby). Another example is the singular feminine form ending of um (dzevuchum, meaning girlfriend), which is ou in typical Czech (divkou).

9. The endings of pronouns have variances, for example, s tum nasum (with ours), which in typical Czech is s tim nasim.

10. The past tense is formed in a way different from literary Czech.

11. Typical of Polish, the stress in the Tesin dialect is on the penultimate syllable, for example: nedogoni (they do not catch me), where go receives the word stress. In typical Czech, the stress is always on the first syllable of the word.

12. It is important to note that in both typical Czech and in the Tesin dialect, the vowel sounds are forward, similar to those of the Italian language. For this reason, it is the brightest of the Slavic languages.


It is significant to note that Eben's primary goal in the arrangement of these songs was the communication of text. He does not alter the folk tunes themselves in his arrangements, but adds his own inventions and incorporates many interesting compositional devices in the piano accompaniments, which reflect the meaning of the text, and in some cases add subtext. The technique of composition was secondary. (17)

The authentic written form of the dialect and poetic translations are below. Singers, teachers, and coaches are recommended to use this form of the folk texts in performance settings in order to capture the flavor of this unique region.

"Hej, kolo Tesina"

1. Okolo Ciesyna, je tam cestecka. A na tej cestecce, stoji dziyvecka. Stoji, stoji, ucosano, jak by byla malovano, dziyvcynka moja, dziyvcynka moja.

2 A jo se ji pytol, cy by me chciala. A ona mi na to ryncki podala. Ojcove se dozvedzieli, zaroz po nas prijechali, bylo veseli, bylo veseli.

3. A potym zech dostol kozuch na sviynta. Co neboscyk starik pos v nim cielynta. Kdyby byli starik zyli, to by byli v nim chodzili, jo by nimiol nic, jo by nimiol nic. (18)

1. Hey, around Tesin, there is a path on which a maiden stands. She stands all dressed up as if she were painted like a bride, hey, just like a bride.

2. So I asked her if she would be mine, and she gave me her little hands in reply. Her parents learned about our courtship and they came right away. We all shared in good cheer.

3. Then they gave me a wedding coat that my late grandfather wore while herding in the cattle. If grandfather were still alive he would be wearing this coat now, and not me. I would be left wearing nothing at all! Hey, I would not have anything on at all! (19)

"Ten Tesinsky mostek"

1. Tyn ciesynski mostek ogibo se a po nim vodzicka rozlyvo se, ach, jaja, tralalala, a po nim vodzicka rozlyvo se.

2. Cymu me tatulku nerad mocie, ze vy me na vojne vysyloce, ach, jaja, tralalala, ze vy me na vojne vysylocie.

3. Nevysylajcie me, pujdym jo sum, siednym na kunicka, bedym husar, ach, jaja, tralalala, siednym na kunicka, bedym husar.

4. Tyn branny kunicek me ponesie a svarno dzievucha prituli sie, ach, jaja, tralalala, a svarno dzievucha prituli sie.

5. Co branny kunicek, to podstata, co svarno dzievucha, to utrata, ach, jaja, tralalala, co svarno dzievucha, to utrata.

1. The bridge in Tesin bows and water flows under it. Ah, yes, tra-la-la-la-la, the water flows under it.

2. Why, my good father, are you so unhappy with me that you send me away to serve in the army?

3. No need to send me, I will go of my own accord. I will saddle a horse and be a hussar.

4. The mighty horse will carry me safely away and the fair maiden will remember me and keep me in her heart.

5. A mighty horse can bring one safety but a beautiful maiden will always bring heartache.

"Tam z tej strony jezora"

1. Tam z tej struny jeziora, stoji lipka zeluno, ej, stoji, stoji lipinka zeluno a na ni sum ptoskovie.

2. Ej nesum to ptoskove, sum to kavalirove, rozmovjajum sie o svarnej dzievuse, kjeremu sie dostane.

3. Jedyn pravi "Bydzie mo," a tyn drugi "Jak Bug do," ej a tyn treci "Ty moje serdusko, sak ty bedzies yny mo."

1. On the yonder side of the lake there stands a linden tree. Hey, there stands a linden tree and up inside it nests some little warbling birds.

2. Hey, but they are not just little warblers, they are cavaliers. They are singing about a beautiful maiden and which one of them is about to marry her.

3. The first one says, "She will be mine!" The second one says, "God will decide." The third one says, "Hey, she is already my sweetheart and I know she will be only mine."

"V zelenym hajicku"

1. V zelunym hajicku, v zelunym rubali, kumu me zostavis synecku kochany?

2. Zostaviym jo cie tymu, co je z neba a za rocek za dva prijadym po ciebie.

3. A jak neprijadym, bedym listy pisac a ty jednak musis mojum milum zostac.

1. In a green grove there are trees that have been cut down for wood. Oh, tell me, who will watch over me while you are gone, my own true love?

2. I will commend you to him who dwells in Heaven. In a year or two, I will return and be with you again.

3. If I do not come back, I will write you letters. You must love me still.

"Dolina, dolina"

1. Dolina, dolina, a v doline sosna, poviydz mi, dzievucho, do kogos urosla.

2. Uroslach, uroslach, ale ni do ciebie, do tego synecka, co z vojny prijedzie.

3. Prijedzie, prijedzie na brannym kunicku, podkovjynki zlote, sablicka na boku.

4. Dzievucho, dzievucho, porachuj se sobie, vela jo chodnickuv nachodzil ku tobie!

5. Kdybyzech jo miala chodnicki rachovac, musiala bych jo se pisaricka chovac.

6. Pisaricka chovac, papiur mu kupovac, nestarcylo by mi ani na jedyn rok.

1. Down in the valley there is a pine tree. Tell me fair maid, for whom are you growing?

2. Indeed, I am growing, but not for you. Rather I am growing because of the armed lad who has been at war.

3. He will return on a mighty horse with golden horseshoes and with a sword at his side.

4. Fair maid of mine, try to count the many paths I have trodden to find you.

5. Were I to add them all up, I would need a scribe just for this task alone.

6. I would have to keep a scribe and buy the lad all the paper he needs. Then I would spend all that I have from you in less than one year.

"V nedeli rano"

1. V nedziele rano, v niedziele rano drobny desc pado, moja nejmilejso, moja nejmilejso krovy vygano, moja nejmilejso, moja nejmilejso krovy vygano.

2. Ty pujdzies gurum, ty pujdzies gurum a jo dolinum, ty zakvitnies ruzum, ty zakvitnies ruzum a jo malinum, ty zakvitnies ruzum, ty zakvitnies ruzum a jo malinum.

3. Ty pujdzies gurum, ty pujdzies gurum a jo gospodum, ty bejes pannum, ty bejes pannum a jo mlodziencym, ty bejes pannum, ty bejes pannum a jo mlodziencym.

1. The rain is falling lightly on a Sunday morning. My own betrothed is out to herd the cattle again.

2. You will go by hill and I will go by valley. You will blossom as a rose and I will be the berry.

3. You will go back by hill and I will stop off at the pub. You will return as a maid and I will remain a bachelor.

"Ja vem o ptaskovi"

1. Jo viym o ptoskovi v lesie, jo viym o ptoskovi v lesie, malovane vajca nesie, malovane vajca nesie.

2. Jedno biole, drugi sare, jedno biole, drugi sare, kany insy roz dzeuchi stare, kany insy roz dzeuchi stare.

3. A v Ryce sum mlodusinki, a v Ryce sum mlodusinki, majum gymby slodusinki, majum gymby slodusinki.

4. Jo juz jednum pocalowol, jo juz jednum pocalowol, tri dni zech se oblizovol, tri dni zech se oblizovol.

1. I know about the bird in the forest. It lays beautifully colored eggs.

2. One is white, the second pale. You better try to go somewhere else, old maids.

3. Here in Reka, the young maidens dwell, and they have very sweet and tender mouths.

4. I have already kissed one, and for three days I have been smacking my lips.

"Litali, litali dva holubci mali"

1. Lotali, lotali, dvo golumbcy mali, dzivala se jim nadobno dziyvecka, dzivala se jim obema.

2. Ci golumbcy mali, gniozdecko se slali, dzivala se jim nadobno dziyvecka, dzivala se jim obema.

3. A z tej piyrvsej struny, blavatek zieluny, dzivala se jim nadobno dziyvecka, dzivala se jim obema.

4. A z tej drugi struny, stebelecko slumy, dzivala se jim nadobno dziyvecka, dzivala se jim obema.

1. The two pigeons flew around, and a beautiful maiden saw them.

2. The pigeons were making a nest, and the maiden started to watch.

3. On one side there was a green leaf; the beautiful maiden was staring.

4. On the other side she saw a long stem of straw; the maiden watched both of them.

"Svete marny"

1. Sviecie, sviecie, sviecie marny, sviecie, sviecie, sviecie marny, odesel mi synek svarny, odesel mi synek svarny.

2. Kozol se mi nezarmucac, kozol se mi nezarmucac, ze se jesce moze vrucic, ze se jesce moze vrucic.

3. Jo se rmucic nebedym, jo se rmucic nebedym, insego se hledac bedym, insego se hledac bedym.

4. Co bedzie miol gury, lasy, co bedzie miol gury, lasy, styry kune, dve kolasy, styry kune, dve kolasy.

5. A bicisko z papruciny a bicisko z papruciny, nebedzies ty, bedzie inny, nebedzes ty, bedzie inny.

1. Vain world, go away. The handsome boy has left for eternity.

2. He told me not to weep in sorrow, that he might return.

3. I will not grieve the loss, but rather seek another.

4. The new one will have mountains, forests, four horses, and two carriages.

5. There will also be a whip that is made of fern. Yes, now that you are gone, there will be another one.

"Za gorum, za vodum"

1. Za gorum, za vodum, miesiuncek vychodzi, rada bych viedziala, kdzie muj mily chodzi.

2. Vcora obiecovol, ze tu vecur pridzie, abych go cakala, az miesiuncek vyndzie.

3. Miesiuncek juz vysel, muj mily neprisel, vsak un juz napevno, vsak un za insum sel.

1. Beyond the mountain and beyond the water, the moon is rising. I would like to know where my beloved is tarrying.

2. Yesterday he promised me that he would come back this evening. He told me that I should wait for him when the moon was nigh.

3. The moon is now up above, but my beloved has not returned. I can be sure of it, to another has he gone.

"Panenky se chlubjum"

1. Panenky se chvolum, ze jich syncy kochajum a syncy se smiejum, ze svodzac umium.

2. O moje panenky, nechvolcie se, prosym, bo jo vum zaspiyvum, jyny posluchac prosym.

3. Ku jednej se siednym, na drugum se podzivum, treci muwiym do pusy, cvortum jesce chcym.

4. Piuntum pieknie posciskum, sustej dum puse, siudmej listy pisym a z usmum glupnym.

5. Dzieviuntej to muviym, ze jum mum rod scere, dziesiunto zawidzi, az to nima mozne.

6. Jedynostum sidzym, svodzum na premiany, od dvanostej panny jezech ukochany.

1. The maidens are boasting of the lads they love. The lads are laughing about the girls whom they have seduced.

2. Dear girls of mine, stop your boasting, listen to the song I am singing to you.

3. I will sit by the first girl, the second I will behold, the third I will flirt with, and the fourth I will beg.

4. I will snuggle with the fifth girl, kiss the sixth, write letters to the seventh, and trifle with the eighth.

5. To the ninth girl I will say that she is the one for me, and the tenth girl--how jealous she will be.

6. I will cheat on the eleventh, yet entice her all the more, but the twelfth girl--she will be my love--fair and true.


Pisne z Tesinska is merely one culmination of work from a single year of Petr Eben's life. While extant material claims that these songs are insubstantial in regard to his vast compositional output, this study proves the significance of this work not only in terms of the influence it had on many of his future compositions, but also in preserving the folklore of the unique town of Tesin. The songs serve as a window into the folk culture of the Tesin region. Preserved within the folk tunes, texts, and Eben's interestingly complex piano accompaniments, his folksong arrangements capture the spirit of this unique place.

Other composers have arranged folksongs from the Tesin region in styles that contrast with the distinctive musical voice of Eben. Jan Vicar, musicologist and professor at the Academy of Music in Prague, shared the names of these composers: "Mojzisek, Vogel, Novak, Piskacek, Hradil, Dvorak and Janacek. Another Tesin folksong arranger that no one speaks of, not even here in Prague, is German composer Ervin Shulhoff. His Tesin folksong arrangements from the 1920s and 1930s employ jazz harmonies." (20) The composers who have arranged folksongs from this region prior to Eben, while not vast in number, are interesting to note: they demonstrate that there is a historical and cultural context for the study of Eben's Pisne z Tesinska and underline the need for the study of these overlooked compositions. While other composers have arranged songs from Tesin, Eben's arrangements represent a modern approach, while maintaining the authenticity of the melodies themselves. The songs from Tesin provide a rich addition to the wealth and treasure of the Czech art song repertory, and as Tucapsky reiterated, "should be better known." (21)


(1.) Eva Vitova, interview by author, Prague, Czech Republic (July 11, 2008).

(2.) Katerina Vondrovicova-Cerenkova, interview by author, Prague, Czech Republic (July 12, 2008).

(3.) Antonin Tucapsky, "Re: Songs from Tesin," personal email (May 10, 2008). According to Antonin Tucapsky, Eben did not find any new material on this, and although the author has been unable to find specific documentation regarding the purpose of the survey, Dr. Tucapsky implies that because of this lack of new material coming forth, the project was not successful.

(4.) Timothy Cheek, interview by author (March 2009).

(5.) Petr Eben, interview by Jaromir Gelnar, translated by Iva Rakova. Radio broadcast, Ostrava, Czech Republic (summer 1950).

(6.) Jaromir Gelnar and Oldrich Sirovatka, Slezske Pisne (Praha: Statni Nakladatelstvi Krasne Literatury, Hudby a Umeni, 1957), 8.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Timothy Cheek, Singing in Czech: A Guide to Czech Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2001), 121.

(9.) Barbora Baronova, interview by author, Tesin, Czech Republic (August 9, 2008).

(10.) Cheek, 121.

(11.) Ibid.

(12.) Ivan Kusnjer, interview with the author, Prague, Czech Republic (July 15, 2008).

(13.) Petr Eben, Pisne z Tesinska, Barenreiter Editio Supraphon (Praha, 1952).

(14.) Cheek, 122.

(15.) Ibid.

(16.) Jan Rokyta, interview by author, Ostrava, Czech Republic (August 10, 2008).

(17.) David Eben, interview by author, Prague, Czech Republic (August 3, 2008).

(18.) Barbora Baronova, "Tesin Songs," personal email (September 20, 2008). These are translations by Barbora Baronova into an authentic form of the po nasimu dialect. They are to be used as a reference and comparison guide to the transliterated texts in the score of Pisne z Tesinska.

(19.) These are translations of the texts by Matthew Markham and are recommended for use in recital programs. A word-for-word translation may be found in Appendix A of the treatise.

(20.) Jan Vicar, interview by author, Prague, Czech Republic (July 9, 2008).

(21.) Tucapsky, personal email.

Baritone Matthew Markham is Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He received a Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and both a Bachelor of Music and Doctor of Music in Voice Performance from Florida State University. Dr. Markham was a national recipient of a Theodore Presser Grant Award and FSU Dissertation Research Grant Award enabling him to conduct research on the vocal compositions of Czech composer Petr Eben, which culminated in his treatise "A Study of Pisne z Tesinska of Petr Eben." In collaboration with Dr. Timothy Cheek, author of Singing in Czech, he has performed lecture recitals on the subject at various universities. An avid interpreter of art song, he has worked with musical luminaries at the Franz Schubert Institute, Songfest, and the Baldwin-Wallace Art Song Festival, and has performed in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Suk Hall at the Rudolfinum in Prague, Czech Republic. Awards have included a finalist in the Franco-American Vocal Academy French Art Song Competition, winner of the regional MacAllister Awards, and regional NATS competitions. Discography includes the baritone soloist on the world premier recording of Antonio Rosetti's Requiem conducted by Johannes Moesus along with the Prague Singers and the Camerata Filarmonica Bohemia. Dr. Markham was selected as a teacher for the 2013 Naked Voice Summer Institute at Northwestern University under the tutelage of W. Stephen Smith, and was chosen to be a NATS Intern in 2008. He serves on the Wisconsin NATS board as a Member-At-Large, and is a summer resident teaching artist at the Ameropa Solo and Chamber Music Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. For more information, please visit
COPYRIGHT 2015 National Association of Teachers of Singing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Markham, Matthew
Publication:Journal of Singing
Geographic Code:4EXCZ
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Balancing odd and even harmonics in the source spectrum.
Next Article:Where we were then and where we are now: A singing teacher's perspective.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |