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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – January 2006

Václav Kejmar: Portrait of Composer Jaromír Weinberger (1896-1967)
Oil on canvas, 200 x 127 cm, signed and dated lower right corner: Kejmar V. Prague – 1907
Provenance: acquisition made in 1968 from a private collection in Prague, inv. no. JMP 174.000

Jaromír Weinberger was born into a Jewish family in Prague on 8 January 1896. He studied piano and composition – initially with Vítìzslav Novák at the Prague Conservatory, later with Max Reger in Leipzig. In 1922-26 he taught at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in New York. After returning from the States, he worked in Bratislava (at the Slovak National Theatre) and in London. Weinberger’s opera Shvanda the Bagpiper was premiered at the State Opera in Prague on 27 April 1927. Despite a cool reception in Prague, the work achieved immediate fame abroad (alongside Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, it was the only Czech opera to have international presentations). In 1939, Weinberger took part in a festive staging of Shvanda the Bagpiper as part of the World Exhibition in New York, where he was to make his second home, away from racial persecution. Weinberger’s output includes four operas (Shvanda the Bagpiper 1927, Beloved Voice 1930, Outcast of Poker Flat 1932, Wallenstein 1937), one ballet (Saratoga 1941) and a number of orchestral and chamber works (Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree 1939, Concerto for Tympani 1939, Lincoln Symphony 1941. etc.). Unfortunately, most of Weinberger’s works were not understood, a fact that caused an ever-deepening depression that eventually led to the composer’s untimely death. Jaromír Weinberger died in his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, from an overdose of barbiturates. The 110th anniversary of his birth will be marked on 8 January of this year.




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