One sunny afternoon in 1925, the Czech composer Leos Janácek was sitting in a park listening to a military band concert. He was so taken with the fanfares he heard that he decided to write something along these lines himself. He was asked to write music for the Sokol gymnastic festival the next year, and soon he was enthusiastically working on what would become his “Sinfonietta for Orchestra,” which had its first performance on today’s date in 1926.
Janácek dedicated the work to the Czechoslovak Armed Forces, and said the music was meant to express, quote, “the contemporary free man, his spiritual beauty and joy, his strength, courage and determination to fight for victory.”
Another concert showpiece inspired by an athletic event is “Javelin” commissioned from the American composer Michael Torke for the 1996 Olympic Games in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
“I liked the word ‘javelin’,” says Torke. “The sweeping motion of a lot of the music is like an object thrown; a slender spear such as a javelin seemed apt, I knew the title would be appropriate.”
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