Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) should be the patron saint of late bloomers. He was aged 50 when he wrote the ground-breaking opera, Jenůfa, which didn’t bring him widespread success until it was premièred in Prague in 1916, by which time he was aged 62. The last 15 years of Janáček’s life brought one first-rate work after another: the operas Katya Kabanova (1921), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924) and The Makropulos Affair (1926); the orchestral works Taras Bulba and Sinfonietta; and the two string quartets. From about the age of 30 Janáček began to collect folksongs from his native Moravia. This was to have a profound effect upon his music with Moravian rhythms, accents and inflections seeping into his original compositions. If you’ve ever wondered where Janáček’s distinctive “edge” came from, this is probably the answer.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra