“What is life but a series of preludes to that unknown hymn whose first solemn note is intoned by death?” wrote Franz Liszt in the text attached to the symphonic poem Les Préludes. The piece, full of passion, pathos and heroism, was originally intended to be an overture to the cycle Les quatre éléments. Ultimately, the work became an independent composition, obtaining a title referring to the poem by Alphonse de Lamartine.
Bedřich Smetana started working on Prague Carnival at the end of his life, but the idea of the piece accompanied him already in 1880. The composer managed to complete only the Introduction and the Polonaise; he did not attend the premiere, which took place on his birthday, due to poor health.
Missa glagolitica by Leoš Janáček, which crowns the concert, is considered a celebration of Slavic culture. Written to Old Church Slavonic texts, the Mass is a unique combination of chaotic energy with delicacy, of religiousness with a pagan spirit.