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series D / volume 1 - 1
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The Suite for Strings was Janáček’s first orchestral composition, one he had written even before his studies at the conservatory in Leipzig (1879–1880). It is made up of six parts, which originally carried the titles Prélude, Allemande, Sarabande, Scherzo, Air, and Finale, however, these parts did not correspond to the true character of the old dance suite, and a scherzo is completely out of the question here. Most of the sections of the Suite are written in two-part and three-part song form, while the sixth part is in the form of a sonata. No original manuscript version has survived, but there is an authorized manuscript copy with the title page written in Janáček’s own hand. It is now on deposit in the Janáček Archive at the Moravian Regional Museum. Comparison with Janáček’s handwriting is possible through the Collection of Compositions from Prague Studies, also on deposit there, in which the composer rewrote fair copies of all his compositions from the years 1874–75 that he produced at the Skuherský organ school and later. One of these compositions, the Sonnet for four violins, dated November 25, 1875 in Brno, served as a source for Janáček in composing the fourth part of the Suite (then entitled Scherzo) with the prescribed tempo of Presto; he cites the Sonnet almost verbatim, especially in the first nine bars.
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