Cover image for Diary of one who vanished : a song cycle
Diary of one who vanished : a song cycle
Janáček, Leoš, 1854-1928.
Uniform Title:
Zápisník zmizelého. Text. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) ; 16 cm
General Note:
Poems originally written by Ozef Kalda and published anonymously around 1917, set into a song cycle by Janáček, here put into a new English version of the poems by Heaney.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML54.2.Z36 J32 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A Cycle of Love Songs Translated by the Nobel Laureate

"Dappled woodland light,
Spring well chill and bright,
Eyes like stars at night,
Open knees so white.
Four things death itself won't cover,
Unforgettable forever."

In 1917, while reading his local newspaper, the Czech composer Leos Janacek discovered the poems that he was to set to music in his song cycle Diary of One Who Vanished . Written by Ozef Kalda and published anonymously, they tell the story of a farmer's boy who abandons his home because he has fallen in love with a Gypsy. These new English versions by Seamus Heaney were commissioned by the English National Opera for a series of international performances, which opened in Dublin in October 1999.

Author Notes

Leos Janacek was born in Moravia, part of the Czech Republic. At the age of 10, he was placed at the Augustine monastery in Brno as a chorister. For two years (1872--74), he was a student at Brno Teachers Training College and at the Organ School in Prague, where he studied organ with Skuhersky. He later took lessons in composition with L. Grill at the Leipzig Conservatory. From 1879 to 1880, Janacek studied with Franz Krenn at the Vienna Conservatory. A year later, he returned to Brno, where he conducted the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 1919 and 1925, Janacek taught at the Conservatory of Brno. Many Czech composers of younger generations were his students.

Janacek began composing music early in his life in many genres, including choral works, orchestral music, chamber music, and piano music. However, it was not until the 1916 production of his opera Jeji Pastorkyna (Her Foster Daughter), known more widely as Jenufa, that his importance as a composer was realized in the music world. Many of Janacek's operas were based on important Russian literary works. Kat'a Kabanova (1921) and From the House of the Dead (1938) are two such operas. Janacek also believed in the artistic importance of folk songs. He collected a number of folk songs in his native Moravia.

Janacek is considered the most important modern Czech composer. In addition to Jenufa, his works include the symphonic poem Taras Bulba (1918) and the Glagolitic Mass (1926), a Latin text translated into Czech. During the last two decades of his life, Janacek was highly influenced by French impressionistic music.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

After huge success translating the Old English heroic narrative Beowulf, 1995 Nobel Laureate Heaney turns his attention to folk song. Written by an unknown poet later identified as Ozef Kalda, these poems were published in a newspaper in a town in Moravia, where the great Czech composer Leo Jan cek (1854-1928) lived and taught. At the age of 63, Jan cek had a passion-filled relationship with a young married woman he met on holiday, which in 1917-19 inspired "Diary of One Who Vanished," a song cyle, or interrelated series of lyrics, using Kalda's poems. "The standard fare of folk song," the poems recount the sad story of how a "young gypsy girl" lures a farm boy away from his home into the forest. Heaney's version of the 21 dramatic songs forms the lyrics for a new international coproduction of Jan cek's work, which had its premiere in Dublin in 1999. The ballad-like Czech setting and rural landscape of County Derry, Northern Ireland, where Heaney grew up and which has been the enduring inspiration of his work, have distinctive kinship. Elegant as a Renaissance miniature or Shakespearean song, spare yet sophisticated, this charming translation fuses a master craftsman's command of the vernacular with "love's/ Deep dream and yearning."DFrank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.