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May 2, 2013 7:00 PM

Julia Den Boer

Concert - pianist Julia Den Boer. Free admission.

Philippe Leroux, AMA
Miroslav Srnka, Ta Vesti
Janacek, Sonata I.X.1905
Ondrej Adamek, Rasgueo
Luigi Nono, ...Sofferte Onde Serene...
Pierre Boulez, Premiere Sonate



Philippe Leroux
Commissioned for the concours Marguerite Long/Jacques Thibault, AMA, for piano, was composed in 2009. From another work for 2 pianos, 2 percussions and electronics M(1997), AMA mostly explores notions about resonance and process. Activated by sound figures, resonance (resulting from the analysis of the base harmonics of the piano) reaches
a stable balance and an autonomy, which places it beyond a simple trace of the initial phenomenon. These figures, first exposed in a somewhat empty sound universe then make up the musical material of the whole piece. These fragments are constantly interpolated as resonances moving from one figure to another, or as a continuous transformation process generating textures and sound granulations. At the end of the piece, the figures simplify, becoming a unique ascending gesture, which expanded, ends the piece.
Philippe Leroux


ta větší : one variation on the final scene of Jenůfa for piano
Miroslav Srnka
The following is the final scene (Act III, sc. 12) from Janáček’s opera Jenůfa.
The libretto is by the composer, based on the play Její pastorkyňa by Gabriela Preissová.



12. výstup

Jenůfa, Laca


Scene 12

Jenůfa, Laca






Odešli... Jdi také! Však včil vidíš, že s mým bědným životem svůj spojit nemůžeš! Buď s Bohem... a pamatuj si, žes byl nejlepší člověk, jehož jsemm poznala na světě! Žes mi zúmyslně poranil to líco, to jsem ti dávno odpustila. To jsi hřešil jenom z lásky, jako já kdysi.


They've all left... Leave as well! You see that it's impossible to join your life with my wretched one! Go with God... And remember that you are the best person I have ever met in all the whole world! I've long since forgiven you for deliberately causing injury to my cheek. Your sin was merely based on love, like mine long ago.








Ty odejdeš do světa za hodnějším životem a mne nevezmeš s sebou, Jenůfko?




Would you go out into the world in search of a better life and not take me with you, Jenůfa?






Víš, že mne budou volat k soudu, že každý se na mne s opovržením podívá?


Don't you realize that I'll be called to court, that everyone will look on me with deep scorn and contempt?






Jenůfka, já i to pro tebe snesu. Co nám do světa, když si budeme na útěchy!


(more energetically)
Jenůfa, I can stand even that for you. Why care for the world with each other for consolation!






Ó Laco, duša moja! Ó pojď! Včil k tobě mne dovedla láska — ta větší, co Pánbůh s ní spokojen!


(won over)
O Laca, my own dearest! O come! It is real love that leads me to you—the greater love in which God rejoices!












1.X. 1905 (Sonata)
Leos Janáček
“The white marble of the steps of the Besední dům in Brno. The ordinary labourer Frantizek Pavlík falls, stained with blood. He came merely to champion learning and has been slain by cruel murderers.”
Leos Janáček

With the exception of the early Zdenčiny variace (Zdenka’s Variations; 1880) and the very brief Vzpomíná (Reminiscence; 1928), all of Janácek’s music for solo piano was produced within a short period, between the years 1900 and 1912. This was a very cheerless period for the composer: the year 1903 saw the death of his daughter, Olga; in the same year the National Theatre in Prague refused the opera Její pastorkyně (Jenufa); and the negotiations in which Janácek was involved from 1908 regarding a production of the opera Osud (Fate) at the Municipal Theatre in Prague’s Royal Vinohrady district came to nothing.

            The composition of 1.X.1905, a piano work which later came to be referred to as a sonata was inspired by a tragic event that took place in the Moravian town of Brno during demonstrations staged in connection with the founding of a second Czech university there, and during the subsequent unrest and clashes that occurred between the town’s German majority and Czech minority. Tensions between the two nationalities had been apparent since the second half of the 19th century, when the town saw the start of an emancipation process among its Czech minority, a process that involved the establishing of Czech-only schools and associations, the building of the Czech Besední dům social and cultural meeting house, the opening of the Permanent Czech Theatre on Veveří Street, and so on.

            Resentment between the two camps came to a head at the start of the twentieth century. The prime object of contention was the issue of Czech national and higher education, to which the German-oriented Brno town hall was staunchly opposed. The Brno Germans, in order to strengthen their position and make it quite clear that Brno was a German town, called for representative members of the German population of Moravia and for German political functionaries from Bohemia and from throughout Austria to assemble in the Moravian capital on 1 October, 1905, the so-called Volkstag. The Germans demonstrated primarily in front of Brno’s German House, whilst the town’s Czechs formed spontaneous anti-German demonstrations outside the Besední dum. Between the two camps there ensued skirmishes and violence, which should have been suppressed by armed police and by German regimental troops, who, however, quite naturally pursued only the Czech participants in the demonstrations. The fact that Janácek himself also participated actively in the anti-German demonstrations is attested to in a unique witness account provided in 1925 by Arnost Heinrich, editor-in-chief, of the national newspaper Lidové noviny: “Near the Three Cocks inn crowds of Czechs were blockading a procession of Germans approaching from a number of special trains arrived at the station. They held them there for two hours, the Germans raging with fury and shame, until the military attacked from a side street and broke through the Czech blockade. I was there calming down Leos Janácek, because this was a matter of life and death, and, with a temperament like his, of his life and death especially.”

            The violence came to a head on 2 October, when the military intervened against a Czech demonstration, which was already disbanding, and outside the entrance to the Besední dum Frantisek Pavlík, a twenty-year-old labourer from the Moravian village of Velky Orechov, was stabbed. Pavlík died of his wounds on arrival at hospital, and his funeral, on 4 October 1905, constituted something of a silent anti-German gathering. Janáček reacted to the tragic incident with a three-movement piano work originally titled From the Street, 1st October 1905.

            The date of the work’s premiere was set for 27 January 1906, when there was to be an Evening of New Moravian Music, organized by the music section of Friends of the Arts Club in Brno, by Ludmila Tučková. In Ludvík Kunder’s 1948 book, Janáček and the Friends of the Arts Club, the author writes that, “They were three compositions, or movements of a composition, linked by a common title. On the day before the performance, the composer listened through this work together with the other pieces planned for that evening and, comparing them with his own work, appeared not to be satisfied. For, as Tučková was playing through her programme at the clubroom piano on the day of the concert, Janáček silently took the music away from her, cut out the third and final movement – some sort of somber funeral march, I gather – and, declaring ‘That’s crude’, threw it into the fire right in front of the pianist’s eyes. He seems to have found the movement too blatantly naturalistic. And so that evening, instead of the advertised three-movement work, just two of its movements were performed. But even of these two movements Janácek remained unsure. He had the whole work played through once again, from his original manuscript, at a private performance in Prague, on which occasion the two remaining movements also failed to meet with the harshly self-critical composer’s approval, so that he now tossed the entire work over the side of a bridge into the river Vltava.” The composer’s own testimony was recorded by Max Brod: “Manuscript: I threw it into the Vltava. It wouldn’t sink – but the water carried it away.”

            Following its 1906 premiere, the sonata, produced during those eventful days in the town of Brno, was gradually forgotten. The renewed premiere of the work eventually took place on 23 November 1924 in Prague at a concert organized in celebration of the composer’s birthday. It was given under the title 1.x.1905 by Jan Herman, who had learnt it from a provisional score printed using a transcript discovered in Ludmila Tučková’s possession. Janáček appended his text as something of a motto to accompany the work.

Jiří Zahrádka

trans. Sarah Peters-Gráfová


Ondřej Adámek



The techniques used in Rasgueo are the product of my research on Flamenco guitar playing and how its techniques might be applicable to other instruments. This short experimental piece is played entirely inside the piano, trying to recreate the technique of ‘Rasgueo’: a very sonorous tremolo.

Ondřej Adámek


...Sofferte Onde Serene...
Luigi Nono
As my friendship with Mauricio Pollini grew and I became more aware of his fascinating playing , both our families suffered from the harsh wind of death. This brought us even closer and I dedicated this piece to his family.

The sounds of many bells reach my home on the Giudecca in Venice, variously tolled, with various meanings, day and night, in the fog and in the sun. They are the signals of life on the lagoon and on the sea. An invitation to work, to meditate….warnings. And life goes on there in the suffered and serene need for ‘equilibrium in our deepest interior’, as Kafka said. Recordings of Pollini were used to create the tape part at the Studio di Fonologia Musicale in Milan. It results in two acoustic layers that frequently merge, cancelling the strange mechanical quality of the tape.

These are not dying episodes but ‘memories’ and ‘presences’ that merge into each other and become ‘serene waves’.

Luigi Nono
trans. Julia DenBoer


Sonata No. 1
Pierre Boulez

Let us forget for a moment everything that lies between us and this music: let us forget the passage of the last 68 years (a distance greater than, for example, that between Bach’s B-Minor Mass and Beethoven’s 7th Symphony…during which time flashed the entire life of Mozart…), let us forget the composer’s subsequent litany of familiar incendiary remarks, his various stances in relationship to the development of art, music, technology, politics and power, and let us forget above all, the music he has written since.        

Let there be nothing whatsoever between us and this music: a short ten-minute piece for solo piano, written by an ambitious and prodigiously talented 21-year old in Paris, in 1946.


The first ten seconds of the first movement:
a rising interval / a falling interval …
a single high suspended pitch / a blurry cascade of pitches falling into focus …
a harmony stumbling into verticality


Let us forget the “cycle of twelve equal pitches” lens through which we have learned to think about (ie: learned to reconstruct) bland 12-Tone Music, let us forget the very idea of “12-Tone Music,” and let us especially forget all notions of “equality.”

Let us focus, instead, on these five gestures and their unequal relationship to one another. We will not immediately feel the expressive power of these opening gestures and their inequality in the first ten seconds, but that’s ok…after all, if the first five gestures expressed all there was to be expressed, the piece would be over.

Throughout the first movement, each of these microscopic gestures will undergo perpetual transformation: in pitch, in register, in dynamic and in length of time necessary to unfold. These transformations will be as unequal as the gestures they transform, veering each gesture into wildly different realms of possible existence. Throughout this process, however, the gestures will retain the familiarity of their original formation.

This may be an unnecessarily pedantic thing to propose, but I would suggest that the expressive power of the first movement (and in fact of the entire piece) sits not only in the variety of transformations of each gesture, ranging from delicately off-set moments of repose to patently absurd moments of extreme silliness (in the form of glissandi up the keyboard and ridiculous low, thumping cluster cadences), but that each transformed gesture also finds expressive power in contrast to the thing that we hear directly before it and directly after it. Because each gesture is so small and so characteristic, this creates two levels of listening that I can’t help but undertake. On the one hand, I hear the delirious energy of the piece moving (jerking and twitching) forward, as each gesture transforms in real time, butting up against opposing gestures differently transformed (a kind of musical surrealism – witnessing the landscape of flowing time fill with impossible and nonsensical objects in absurdly close proximity). At the same time, however, I retain a memory of each of the five original gestures, and hear the newly transformed versions of each as a fleeting recollection. This creates, in a way, five imaginary groups of fleeting recollections, in which all the versions of a single gesture are loosely situated next to each other (a kind of musical cubism wherein I see multiple sides of a single object at once). This larger opposition, my own experience of surrealism v. cubism, and my attempt to manage them in real time is, for me, one of the most powerful aspects of the first movement.

The second movement, a rapid (rabid?) and virtuosic toccata, then acts toward the first movement as the gestures within the first movement act toward each other. The whole piece comes to resemble the small parts we have been observing. The second movement opposes the first: whereas in the first we hear the micro-gestures – two intervals, one note, one cascade, one chord – the second movement would have us listen to broader strains of ideas, alternating sections of the lyrical and the furious.

But there is a problem (an exciting problem) in the second movement: because we have been lured into listening along the time scale of tiny gestures during the first movement we make a similar attempt of listening as the second movement begins. I would propose that Boulez plays with (preys upon?) this very idea in the sparse-ish introduction, knowing that we will continue to listen as such. The movement very quickly becomes extremely difficult to keep up with…and herein lies the expressive power of the second movement. As we attempt to apply Boulez’s own framework of the first movement, a framework of hyper-focused moments, to the second movement, we experience the second movement, and the large contrasts between furious and lyrical passages as even more rambunctious, even more unruly, even more…

There is a great deal at stake. If we succeed in our efforts to experience this music independently from the crushing burden of history, we will have done Boulez (and ourselves?) the profound favor of momentarily destroying the Mona Lisa, burning down the opera houses, and knowing an urgency of composition so extreme that it does in fact render all other composition, for a few moments, USELESS.

 Nicholas DeMaiso



French-American pianist Julia Den Boer enjoys a versatile carreer as a soloist, chamber musician and pedagogue.  A strong advocate for new music, Julia is a founding member of Sinopia, a two percsussion and piano trio, and performs regularly in North America and Europe. She was awarded a Solti Foundation award in 2011 and won the Prix Mention Speciale Maurice Ohana at the 2012 International Orleans Competition. Her performances have been broadcasted in CBC Radio 2, the SWR and France Musique.

Recent performances include the International Computer Music Conference, the Klangspuren Festival in Austria, Matrix 11 at the SWR Studio in Freiburg, Live@CIRMMT Series in Montreal, Poets Out Loud at Lincoln Center, the Five College New Music Festival and Cent Quatre in Paris. She has had the opportunity to work with composers such as Martin Matalon, Heinz Holliger, Philippe Hurel, Philippe Manoury and Ludger Brümmer and conductors such as Alan Pierson, Denis Bouliane, Lorraine Vallaincourt and Frank Ollu.

Julia has participated in numerous new music festivals such as the Norfolk New Music Workshop, the Domaine Forget Contemporary Music workshop, the 2009 and 2010 Ensemble Modern Summer Academy, Acanthes 2011 and Manifeste 2012 at IRCAM.

She holds a DEM from the Lyon Conservatoire de Region and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University, where she studied with Sara Laimon, Tom Plaunt and Anton Kuerti. Julia is currently pursuing her Doctoral studies at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish, where she also has the position of head piano teaching assistant.


“One cannot omit to point out the moving and poignant musicality of Julia Den Boer” (Mag Centre)

“Julia Den Boer is a furious interpreter of new music” (Tout Lyon)

“We unanimously fell in love with young French-American pianist Julia Den Boer who pleased us with her delicate playing, the freshness of her interpretation, and her personality.” (Orleans Centre)


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May 2, 2013 7:00 PM


Czech Center

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