František Procházka’s quintessentially roguish anti-hero Kašpar Rucký is emblematic of a personality who, it appears, recognizes no cultural, ethnic, nor national divides. Though his circumstances are unique, Mr Rucký is an anti-establishment figure, an opportunist, even a philanderer, whose multi-faceted persona is mirrored by the figures of Till Eulenspiegel, the Good Soldier Schweik, and by the fanciful self-aggrandizement of Háry János, not to mention Janácek’s own Mr Broucek who, we are told, undertakes an excursion to the moon, with a little help from the poet and author—Procházka again—who compiled the libretto of the opera. Specific details, of time, place and personage matter little; Kašpar Rucký was favoured at the Imperial table, and knew the mystery of the philosopher’s stone. As a voyeur, he was incorrigible, standing at keyholes and lifting the curtains even on the Emperor’s private chamber—like Strauss’s Till, Mr Rucký reaps his just reward when hanged for his misdemeanours! But like Strauss’s mischievous but eternally lovable villain, his soul, it seems, is immortal. Janácek’s setting of Kašpar Rucký
, for female voices with soprano solo, was written in 1916 and published in 1925.
Kašpar Rucký is but one of a significant group of choral works written following the dissolution in 1914 of the famous Moravian Teachers’ Male Chorus, founded in 1906 by Ferdinand Vach, who continued as its conductor until most of its members were conscripted into military service with the outbreak of the Great War. Vach was encouraged to maintain the choral tradition which under his leadership had become a major focus of Moravian musical culture, and resolved to re-form the chorus using exclusively female voices and with the same high degree of artistic idealism and the same pursuit of excellence as before.
from notes by Michael Jameson © 1997