MFKH 2022 headline

Monday, June 5 / 8:00 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene


Petr Eben & Jan Ámos Komenský / Comenius

Michaela Káčerková – organ, Marek Eben –  recitation

I. Musical prologue
II. “When I was of that age…”
View of the world
III. “As I thus contemplate…”
IV. “Scarcely was there an idle person…”
Arrows of death
V. “So I am guided and I come to the street…”
Sweet chains of love
VI. “Thus has my guide spoken to me…”
Feast of the Academia
VII. “Lo and behold a man with a scepter of paper…”
Ignorance of the learned
VIII. “That then my guide will for ever the castle of Fortune…”
Wheel of Fortune
IX. “In the meantime, – the interpreter went on to say…”
The crime of the human kind
X. “Then the Ubiquitous said: Let us proceed to to the castle…”
Fake promise of the golden age
XI. “Yet, a little while thereafter…”
Vanity of vanities
XII. “Nor can I even look at this…”
Fright and swoon
XIII. “When I have ceased to speak…”
Return to God


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Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart is the last finished opus of the composer Petr Eben (1929-2007). It is written for organ and recitation. Though Comenius´wrote his Labyrinth of the world and Paradise of the Heart in the early 17th century, Petr Eben believed its prophetic message was just as relevant for our time. He began to improvise on the text of Labyrinth as early as the 1960s, during soirées organized by the Prague bibliophiles association Lyra Pragensis at the church of St Martin-in-the-Wall. It was only later that inspiration by these improvised concerts crystallized in a “real” composition. In 1991, the Labyrinth was first performed, during an organ festival in Melbourne. The composer then went on to perform the work on sixty subsequent occasions in various parts of the world, a string topped off by the last concert, in Prague in 2003. He actually produced its first notated score only as late into the process as 2002. In approaching Comenius´ allegory, Eben focused on those of its parts which deal predominantly with negative aspects of human existence, including the ploys of concealment and deceit symbolized by masks, the prevalence of greed, or lust for power, fortune, and self-satisfaction; the state of perpetual rush that ends only with the realization of the ultimate need to return into God´s open arms. The music of Eben´s Labyrinth abounds in dramatic contrasts conveyed predominantly by music whose language is predominantly modern, yet which also includes several reminiscences of unequivocally classical, even Bachian inspiration.

                                                                                              sleeve-note: Dita Hradecká / translation: Ivan Vomáčka

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