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Vitezslava Kapralova (Brno 1915-Montpellier 1940) is an important twentieth-century Czech composer. She was a daughter of composer Vaclav Kapral and voice teacher Vitezslava Uhlirova. A child prodigy, she started composing at nine, and at fifteen she entered the Brno Conservatory where she studied composition with Vilem Petrzelka and conducting with Zdenek Chalabala and Vilem Steinman (1930-1935). She continued her studies with composer Vitezslav Novak and conductor Vaclav Talich at the Master School of the Prague Conservatory (1935-1937), and further advanced her musical education at the Ecole normale de musique in Paris with Charles Munch (1937-1938) and, according to some unverified accounts, with Nadia Boulanger (1940), while also studying composition privately with Bohuslav Martinu (1938-1939). In 1937, Kapralova conducted the Czech Philharmonic and a year later the BBC Orchestra in her Military Sinfonietta, to much critical acclaim. Despite her untimely death in 1940, from what was misdiagnosed as miliary tuberculosis, Kapralova left behind an impressive body of work. Her music was much admired by Rafael Kubelik who premiered her orchestral song Waving Farewell and performed several other works; so did Rudolf Firkusny, for whom Kapralova composed April Preludes and Two Dances for Piano. In 1946, in appreciation of her distinctive contribution, the foremost academic institution in the country - the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Arts - awarded Kapralova membership in memoriam. By 1948 this honor was bestowed on only 10 women, out of 648 members of the Academy. Only one of the ten women was a musician - Kapralova.
Kapralova's creative output includes her highly regarded music for keyboard and art songs, chamber music (for cello and piano, violin and piano, flute and piano, reed trio, string quartet, and for voice and instrumental quintet), two choruses for women's voices a capella, and orchestral music: two piano concertos, a concertino for clarinet, violin and orchestra, two orchestral suites, a sinfonietta, and a cantata for soloists, mixed choir, reciter, and orchestra. Some of Kapralova's music was published during her lifetime (Pazdirek, Melantrich, HMUB, and La Sirene éditions musicales), and continued to be published following the composer's death (some works in multiple editions) by various publishing houses both at home (Svoboda, Editio Supraphon, Editio Praga, Czech Radio, and Amos Editio) and abroad (Schott, Certosa Verlag, Egge Verlag). Kapralova's music has been released on record by Supraphon and on compact disc by Naxos, Chandos, Koch International Classics, Euroarts, Gramola, Delos Music, Claves Records, Clavier, Northeastern Records, Albany Records, Centaur Records, Wave Theory Records, dB Productions, ARS Produktion, IBS Classical, Orchid Classics, Analekta, Prospero Classical, Querstand Records, Slovart Music, Supraphon, Radioservis (Czech Radio), ArcoDiva, and Studio Matous.
Kapralova's life has inspired two Czech language monographs, two novels, and other books. In 2011, a long-overdue English-language monograph on Kapralova was published in the United States by Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield); a French-language monograph on the composer followed in 2015 and a German-language monograph in 2017. On the occasion of the composer's centenary in 2015, BBC Radio 3 featured Kapralova as their Composer of the Week, dedicating five hours of programming to her music. The same year, The Kapralova Society began publishing a multi-volume collection of Kapralova's correspondence in an effort to advance Kapralova scholarship. Other publications soon followed: a thematic catalogue of Kapralova's works in 2020 (co-published with the Czech Radio Publishing House) and Kauza Kapralova in 2021 (co-published with Klic Books). The latest project of the Society is an English-language anthology that celebrates the life and music of nine women musicians, including Kapralova.
The Kapralova Society is a Canadian foundation and non-profit publisher, established in 1998 in Toronto. An affiliate member of the International Alliance for Women in Music, the Society's mission is to promote interest in Kapralova and other women in music through scholarly research, education, and special projects, undertaken in partnership with schools of music, publishing houses, music labels, public broadcasters, and other organizations. We have assisted recording and publishing of Kapralova's (and other women's) music, and continue to raise awareness of women's contributions to musical life through our publications, online resources, and an open-access journal.
Advocating for women in music since 1998.