The Opening of the Spring

An intriguing and apposite title, given the day and time of year. But it doesn’t mean quite what you might think.

It’s the name of one of four linked cantatas that Bohuslav Martinů wrote in 1955, based on poems by Miroslav Bureš. The names of the other three are also curious and attractive – Legend of the Smoke from Potato Fires, The Romance of the Dandelions and Mikeš of the Mountains. 

The poems are about Martinů’s birthplace in the Moravian highlands (the town of Polička on the border between Bohemia and Moravia). The Czech title of the piece is Otvírání studánek (alternative translation: The Opening of the Wells) making the ‘spring’ a liquid one rather than a season. There is, however, a connection with the vernal in that the narrative concerns (ahem!) rites of spring, particularly those that involve the cleaning away of winter gunk from the village water supply (eat your heart out Stravinsky!)

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