Vítězslava Kaprálová

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Vítězslava Kaprálová
Vítězslava Kaprálová in 1935.
Born(1915-01-24)24 January 1915
Died16 June 1940(1940-06-16) (aged 25)
Style20th-century music

Vítězslava Kaprálová (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvi:cɛslava ˈkapra:lova:]) (January 24, 1915 – June 16, 1940) was a Czech composer and conductor.


Vítězslava Kaprálová was born in Brno, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Czech Republic), a daughter of composer Václav Kaprál and singer Viktorie Kaprálová. From 1930-1935 she studied composition with Vilém Petrželka and conducting with Zdeněk Chalabala at the Brno Conservatory. She continued her musical education with Vítězslav Novák (1935–37) and Václav Talich (1935–36) in Prague and with Bohuslav Martinů, Charles Munch (1937–39) and, according to some unverified accounts, with Nadia Boulanger (1940) in Paris.[1] In 1937 she conducted the Czech Philharmonic and a year later the BBC Orchestra in her composition Military Sinfonietta. Her husband was the Czech writer Jiří Mucha, whom she married two months before she died. Despite her untimely death, from what was misdiagnosed as miliary tuberculosis,[2][3] in Montpellier, France at the age of 25, Kaprálová created an impressive body of work.[4] Her music was admired by Rafael Kubelík, who premiered her orchestral song Waving Farewell and also conducted her other orchestral works. Among the many interpreters of her piano music was pianist Rudolf Firkušný, for whom Kaprálová composed her best known piano work Dubnová preludia (April Preludes).[5] In 1946, in appreciation of her distinctive contribution, the foremost academic institution in the country - the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Arts - awarded Kaprálová membership in memoriam. By 1948 this honour was bestowed on only 10 women, out of 648 members of the Academy.[6]

The only English biography of the composer was published in 2011 by Lexington Books in the United States. The book also includes a complete, annotated catalog of her works. Kaprálová was "Composer of the Week" on BBC Radio 3 from Monday 12th Oct to Fri 16th Oct 2015, a set of five one-hour programs playing her music and discussing her life.[7]


Kaprálová's catalogue includes her highly regarded art songs and music for piano solo, a string quartet, a reed trio, music for cello, music for violin and piano, an orchestral cantata, two piano concertos, two orchestral suites, a sinfonietta, and a concertino for clarinet, violin, and orchestra. Much of her music was published during her lifetime and continues to be published today by various publishing houses, including Bärenreiter Verlag. In addition, her music has been released on record and compact disc by a variety of labels, including Naxos, Koch Records, Albany Records, Centaur Records, Delos Productions, Gramola and Supraphon.[8]

Kapralova Society[edit]

Since 1998, Kapralova's legacy has been promoted by the Kapralova Society, a non-profit arts organization based in Toronto, Canada. It publishes the Kapralova Society Journal, "a journal of women in music".[9]

In popular culture[edit]

Vítězslava Kaprálová's work and life was featured in episodes 6 and 9, season 3 of the television series Mozart in the Jungle.

Selected works[edit]

  • Suite en miniature, op. 1 for small orchestra
  • Two Compositions for Violin and Piano, op. 3
  • Song cycle Two Songs, op. 4
  • Song cycle Sparks from Ashes, op. 5
  • January, for voice, flute, two violins, violoncello and piano
  • Sonata Appassionata, op. 6 for piano
  • Piano Concerto in D Minor, op. 7
  • String Quartet, op. 8
  • Grotesque Passacaglia for piano
  • Three Piano Pieces, op. 9
  • Song cycle Apple from the Lap, op. 10
  • Sad Evening, for voice and orchestra
  • Military Sinfonietta, op. 11 for large orchestra
  • Song cycle Forever, op. 12
  • April Preludes, op. 13 for piano
  • Waving Farewell, op. 14 for voice and piano/orchestra
  • Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon
  • Ilena, op. 15. Cantata for soli, mixed choir, reciter and orchestra
  • Variations sur le carillon de l'église St-Etienne du Mont, op. 16 for piano
  • Elegy, for violin and piano
  • Suita Rustica, op. 19 for orchestra
  • Partita, op. 20 for piano and string orchestra
  • Concertino for Violin, Clarinet and Orchestra, op. 21
  • Song cycle Sung into the Distance, op. 22
  • Deux ritournelles, op. 25 for violoncello and piano

Selected Discography[edit]

Selected Bibliography (English language only)[edit]


  • Hartl, Karla and Erik Entwistle, eds. The Kaprálová Companion. A guide to the life and music of Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová. 240 pp. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7391-6723-6


  • Blalock, Marta. "Kaprálová's String Quartet, op. 8." Kapralova Society Journal 8, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 1-10.
  • Cheek, Timothy. "Navždy (Forever) Kaprálová: Reevaluating Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová through her thirty songs." Kapralova Society Journal 3, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 1-6.
  • Cheek, Timothy. "Sad Evening, Great Discovery: Bringing to Light a New Song by Vítězslava Kaprálová" Kapralova Society Journal 12, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 1-7.
  • Egeling, Stephane. "Kaprálová’s Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon." Kapralova Society Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 5-8.
  • Entwistle, Erik. "To je Julietta. Martinů, Kaprálová and Musical Symbolism." Kapralova Society Newsletter 2, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 1-15.
  • Hartl, Karla. „The Power of Advocacy in Music: The Case of Vitezslava Kapralova.“ Journal of Czech and Slovak Music 27 (2018): 4–32.
  • Houtchens, Alan. "Love's Labour's Lost: Martinu, Kapralova and Hitler." In Irish Musical Studies 4, pp. 127–132. Edited by Patrick F. Devine & Harry White. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1996.
  • Jandura, Tereza. "Kaprálová’s Jablko s klína, op. 10." Kapralova Society Journal 9, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 1-11.
  • Kostas, Martin. "An Analysis of Compositional Methods Applied in Kaprálová’s Cantata Ilena, op. 15." Kapralova Society Journal 10, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 1–6.
  • Koukl, Giorgio. "Vítězslava Kaprálová: Two Dances for Piano, op. 23 (1940). An attempt at reconstruction of the autograph." Kapralova Society Journal 18, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 8–12.
  • Latour, Michelle. "Kaprálová’s song Leden." Kapralova Society Journal 9, no. 1 (2011): 1-4.
  • Latour, Michelle. "Kaprálová’s Vteřiny, op. 18." Kapralova Society Journal 10, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 7–10.
  • Paige, Diane M. "Kapralova and the Muses: Understanding the Qualified Composer." Kapralova Society Journal 10, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 1–6.
  • Svatos, Thomas D. "On the Literary Reception of Kaprálová and Martinů: Jiří Mucha's Peculiar Loves and Miroslav Barvík's 'At Tři Studně.'" Zwischentöne 2 (2017): 71-90.
  • Vejvarova, Michaela. "Vítězslava Kaprálová's Last Concertino." Czech Music 4 (2001): 6-7.


  • Blalock, Marta. Analysis and performance problems of Vítězslava Kaprálová’s String quartet, op. 8 (1935-1936). Dissertation for B.Mus. & M.M., University of Georgia, 2000, 2003.
  • Jandura, Tereza. Her Own Voice: The Art Songs of Vitezslava Kapralova. DMA dissertation. University of Arizona, 2009.
  • Lytle, Rebecca. An Analysis of Selected Works of Vitezslava Kapralova. Master's thesis, University of Texas at El Paso, 2008.


  1. ^ The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, pp.245-46.
  2. ^ Hartl and Entwistle, 2011, p. 153
  3. ^ kapralova.org
  4. ^ Hartog, p.322
  5. ^ kapralova.org
  6. ^ Sayer, p.343
  7. ^ "Composer of the Week: Vitezslava Kapralova (1915-1940)". BBC.
  8. ^ kapralova.org
  9. ^ "About us". The Kapralova Society. Retrieved 19 February 2020.


  • Hartl, Karla and Erik Entwistle. The Kapralova Companion." Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.
  • Hartog, Howard, ed. European Music in the Twentieth Century. Penguin Books, 1961.
  • Sadie, Stanley and Rhian Samuel, eds. The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. New York and London: W.W.Norton and Company, 1994. (The entry was written by Jiří Macek)
  • Sayer, Derek. The Coasts of Bohemia. Princeton University Press, 1998.
  • kapralova.org

External links[edit]