Josef Suk

About Josef Suk

Suk’s career was influenced by Antonín Dvořák, though not always in a predictable fashion. Born in 1874 in the Czech village of Křečovice, Suk took composition lessons with Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory, and channeled the older composer’s style in his Piano Quartet (1891) and Serenade for Strings (1892). Works from the 1890s have a sunny disposition, especially after Suk’s 1898 marriage to Dvořák’s daughter Otilie. But a noticeable shift occurs with the 1906 symphony Asrael, a sprawling meditation on two tragedies in his life: the sudden death of Dvořák, followed by that of Otilie, of heart failure. Asrael, which quotes Dvořák’s Requiem, Op. 89 (1890), led to a series of symphonic poems in a deeply personal vein, including Zrání Op. 34 (1917) and Epilog Op. 37 (1929). In addition to writing orchestral music, piano miniatures, and quartets, Suk was the second violinist of the Czech Quartet and a composition teacher at the Prague Conservatory, where his pupils included composer Bohuslav Martinů and pianist Rudolf Firkušný. He retired in 1933, just two years before his death.

Krecovice, Czechoslovakia
January 4, 1874

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