Vitezslav Novák

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Novák, Vitězslav


Born Dec. 5, 1870, in Kamenice; died July 18, 1949, in Skuteč. Czech composer. People’s Artist of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1945).

Nová k studied music theory under K. Knittl and K. Šteker and composition under A. Dvořák and K. Bendl. In 1909 he became a teacher at the Prague Conservatory; he served as director of the conservatory from 1919 to 1922. From 1919 to 1939 he was a professor of composition at the conservatory’s master school. Among his students were O. Jeremíáš, J. Jeremiáš, and A. Hába.

Novák was one of the founders (after Dvořák) of Czech musical pedagogy. His compositions incorporated many aspects of Slovak and Moravian folk music: themes, modal-intonational features, and harmonic language. At the same time, his music reveals the influence of C. Debussy, R. Strauss, and N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov. Novák maintained professional contact with many Russian composers; he corresponded with M. A. Balakirev, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and A. K. Glazunov.

Novák is famous for composing in diverse styles and working in a variety of genres. He composed four operas, including The Lantern (1923, Prague); two ballet-pantomimes (both premiered in 1930); and works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (Autumn Symphony, 1934). He is the composer of the Saint Vá clav [Wenceslaus] Triptych (for organ, 1941; for orchestra, 1942), the May Symphony (devoted to the liberation of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic from the fascist occupation in 1945), and several symphonic poems. Novák also composed overtures and suites; a concerto for piano and orchestra; chamber music; and cycles of Slovak folk songs for voice, piano, and choir.


Belza, I. Vitezslav Novak. Moscow, 1957.
Lébl, V. Vitézslav Novák. Prague-Bratislava, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.