Martinu Festival celebrates legendary Czech composer

Bohuslav Martinu

Beginning Monday, Prague will host the 10th annual Martinu Festival, a series of classical music dedicated to one of the best-known 20th Century Czech composers, Bohuslav Martinu.

Bohuslav Martinu
Martinu was a prolific and versatile composer, whose music ranged from operas to film scores.

Born in 1890 in the town of Policka, Martinu started studying violin at the age of six. He moved on to the Prague Conservatory, where he was expelled twice.

Festival organizers have sought to show the breadth of his work. He is known for having a strong Czech folk influence in his music, which helped him gain acceptance in Communist Czechoslovakia. But because Martinu also studied in Paris, his music infuses French and Czech influences.

Among his post-known works are Policka, known in English as Half-Time, and the symphonic poem Memorial to Lidice. Both works are inspired by events in Czechoslovakia.

The festival will include concerts by the Penguin Trio, the Smetana Trio, and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, all playing Martinu and others. It lasts until December 12.