On an Overgrown Path

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On an Overgrown Path (Czech: Po zarostlém chodníčku) is a cycle of thirteen piano pieces written by Leoš Janáček and organized into two volumes.


Janáček composed all his most important works for solo piano between 1900 and 1912.[1] He probably began preparing his first series of Moravian folk melodies in 1900.[1] At this time, the cycle had only six pieces, intended for harmonium: Our evenings, A blown-away leaf, The Frýdek Madonna, Good night!, The barn owl has not flown away! and a Piu mosso published after Janáček’s death.[2] These melodies provided the basis for the first volume of "On an Overgrown Path." Three of these compositions were first published in 1901 with the fifth volume of harmonium pieces, Slavic melodies, under the title On an overgrown path – three short compositions.[2] By 1908 the cycle had grown to nine pieces, and was by then intended for piano instead of harmonium. The definitive version of the first book was published in 1911.[3] On 30 September 1911, Janáček published the first piece of the second series in the Lidové noviny newspapers. The new series was created, in its entirety, around 1911.[3] The complete second book was printed by the Hudební matice in 1942. The première of the work took place on 6 January 1905 at the "Besední dům" Hall in Brno.


Book I

  1. Naše večery – Our Evenings
  2. Lístek odvanutý – A Blown-Away leaf
  3. Pojďte s námi! – Come With Us!
  4. Frýdecká panna Maria – The Madonna of Frydek
  5. Štěbetaly jak laštovičky – They Chattered Like Swallows
  6. Nelze domluvit! – Words Fail!
  7. Dobrou noc! – Good Night!
  8. Tak neskonale úzko – Unutterable Anguish
  9. V pláči – In Tears
  10. Sýček neodletěl! – The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away!

Book II

  1. Andante
  2. Allegretto – Presto
  3. Più mosso
  4. Vivo
  5. Allegro

Less experimental than his later works, these miniatures are reminiscent of Schumann and Grieg.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Some movements were used in the soundtrack for the 1988 American film The Unbearable Lightness of Being.


  1. ^ a b Score, preface, p. III
  2. ^ a b Zahrádka (2009), Preface, P. VIII
  3. ^ a b Score, preface, p. V


  • Program notes by Dr. David Doughty for the two-CD album of Janáček's Piano Works (complete) played by Håkon Austbø (Brilliant Classics 92295)
  • Leoš Janáček: Po zarostlém chodníčku Prague: Editio Bärenreiter, 2006. BA 9502. ISMN M-2601-0365-8
  • Zahrádka, Jiří (preface): Janáček, Leoš : Po zarostlém chodníčku. Praha: Editio Bärenreiter Urtext, 2009. BA 9502. ISMN 979-0-2601-0461-7

External links[edit]