Otakar Ostrčil is often classified as a representative of the so called Czech modernism, alongside J. B. Foerster, J. Suk, and V. Novák.
He studied piano with Adolf Mikeš and composition with Zdeněk Fibich, whose example, together with that of B. Smetana’s, had considerable influence on Ostrčil as a composer.
He was also an outstanding conductor, yet his interests lay outside the realm of music as well. He got a degree in Czech and German studies at Charles University, and, initially, earned his living as a teacher of these subjects at the Czechoslovak Commercial Academy. In the years 1908–1922 he was in charge of the amateur Orchestral Association, which under his lead became a dignified rival of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 1914 to 1918 he assumed the position of director of the opera section at the Vinohrady Municipal Theatre, and from 1919 he worked as an opera dramaturge of the National Theatre. A year later he became its director, remaining in this post until his death. In this position, he strived to promote mainly Czech music, and had merit in staging the most recent works (for example, in 1926 Berg’s Wozzeck was performed at the National Theatre).
Following Fibich’s example, he composed mainly melodramas, operas, symphonic poems, songs, and choral pieces. His musical speech developed gradually from the dependence on Smetana and Fibich to the late Romantic complexity and Mahlerian monumentality. Among Ostrčil’s climactic orchestral pieces belong his Symfonietta (1921), the symphonic poem Summer (Léto, 1926), and Calvary (Křížová cesta), a variation on the author’s theme for orchestra.
Titles for sale:
The Ballad of the Dead Cobbler and the Young Dancer, op. 6
The Orphan Child, op. 9
Titles for hire - see Complete catalogue