Roger Scruton

A New Human World

Janacek

By

John Murray 352pp £25 order from our bookshop

Mirka Zemanova’s biography of Janacek is a painstaking account of a painful and unglamorous life. Zemanova has thoroughly researched the sources, and is scrupulously fair towards her subject, who, it has to be said, comes off as a result rather badly. Indeed, the reader is struck by the extraordinary dissonance between the composer and the man. Janacek produced pure, truthful music, which seems to overflow with tenderness and compassion. Yet he led a life of weakness and subterfuge, treating his wife with relentless cruelty and idealising her rivals in a way that showed respect neither for her nor for them.

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