The Operas of Leoš Janáček

The Operas of Leoš Janáček was the only book that Chisholm wrote. Published by Pergamon Press in 1971, very few copies are to be found although the Erik Chisholm Trust has been able to purchase several on the Internet through various book sellers.

The British Library, London, and the Mitchell Library and the Scottish Music Centre in Glasgow hold reference copies.

Electronic Publishing

The Operas of Leoš Janáček by Erik Chisholm will shortly be available as an E-Book in all major formats and PDF. It will be available from this website and from other online stores. Price TBD.

Mus.Doc (Edin), Dvorak Medallist of the Czechoslovak People’s Republic, Pergamon Press, 1971

(Left)The cover of "The Operas of Leoš Janáček" by Erik Chisholm.

This, his magnum opus, arrived in draft form on the desk of the editor Ken Wright only weeks before Chisholm died in 1965. It was published eventually in 1971.

In his foreword Charles Mackerras wrote:

“Dr. Chisholm was a fanatical propagandist for a greater appreciation of Janáček’s art and no-one could have been better qualified than he to write the first comprehensive analysis of Janáček’s operas in the English language, indeed one of the few books on this subject in any language. I am quite sure that all lovers of Janáček will find this book an essential part of their library, and I hope that it will also awaken the interest of many more who do not yet know the work of this most fascinating of opera composers.”

It may have helped awaken interest - who can tell - but sadly it was pulped before there were enough Janáček enthusiasts around to buy it. Perhaps it was too much in advance of its time, but as the editor pointed out “Chisholm’s sudden death robbed him of an author’s opportunity for a final revision of his book”. There were mistakes; one reviewer found these unacceptable; another said the book was the best thing on opera since Ernest Newman’s ‘Wagner Night's’.

Contents :-

  • Introduction
  • 1. House of the Dead
  • 2. The Makropulos Case
  • 3. Sharp-Ears - The Cunning Little Vixen
  • 4. Kátja Kabanová
  • 5. The Excursions of Mr. Brouček
  • Mr. Brouček's Excursion to the Moon
  • Mr. Brouček's Excursion into the Fifteenth Century
  • 6. Jenůfa
  • 7. Other Operas of Janáček
  • Appendix
  • Detailed Thematic Analysis of Šiškov's Monologue

The author’s eldest daughter much enjoyed reading about Jenůfa the night before she was privileged to see this opera performed in Prague by the Czech National Opera Company. We believe the book has much to offer to others like her.