Janácek, Taras Bulba
Leós Janácek, Taras Bulba
Taras Bulba, Janacek's 1915 - 1918 rhapsody for orchestra, was inspired by Nikolai Gogol's novel by the same name. It is the story of a Ukranian nobel and his two sons who lead a Cossack revolt against the invading Poles. They do not prevail, and, first the youngest son is killed, then the oldest: finally Taras Bulba is himself captured and executed.
In this elegant and dignified work in three parts, Janácek focuses on the deaths of each son and the father. Church bells and the organ feature in the movements for the much-mourned youngest son, and at the death of Taras Bulba. The oldest son's movement is the angriest, but also the most sensuous. It is moving to hear these tributes to lives lost in battle.
Here is Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Janácek's Taras Bulba:
Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis starred in the 1962 film Taras Bulba. The trailer for this film claims repeatedly that it is the first cinematic "Wonder of the World." Hyperbole aside, the film looks interesting. One fight scenes includes a horrifying moment in which soldiers and their horses are forced over a cliff—they fall onto their comrades below. The film also looks to be very sensuous, despite the continued existence of the The Production Code of the Motion Picture Industry (1930-67)—the official United States censorship of films (though, by 1962, the official censors and their code were widely flouted, and Orson Wells, among others, had begun releasing films without official approval).
Here is a link to the trailer for the film Taras Bulba:
I photographed "I've Said Good-bye to Galahad," the flowers above, on Temple Square in Salt Lake City (2006). The title is from the British World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, and his poem "The Poet as Hero":
You've heard me, scornful, harsh, and discontented,
Mocking and loathing War: you've asked me why
Of my old, silly sweetness I've repented—
My ecstasies changed to an ugly cry.
You are aware that once I sought the Grail,
Riding in armour bright, serene and strong;
And it was told that through my infant wail
There rose immortal semblances of song.
But now I've said good-bye to Galahad,
And am no more the knight of dreams and show:
For lust and senseless hatred make me glad,
And my killed friends are with me where I go.
Wound for red wound I burn to smite their wrongs;
And there is absolution in my songs.