Vitezslava Kapralova (Brno 1915-Montpellier 1940) is considered an important representative of inter-war Czech music and the most important Czech woman composer of the twentieth-century. She was a daughter of composer Vaclav Kapral and singer Vitezslava Uhlirova. A child prodigy, she started composing at nine, and at fifteen she entered the Brno Conservatory where she studied composition with Vilem Petrzelka and conducting with Zdenek Chalabala (1930-1935). She continued her musical education at the Master School in Prague with Vitezslav Novak and Vaclav Talich (1935-1937), and at the Ecole normale in Paris with Charles Munch (1937-1938) and, according to some sources, with Nadia Boulanger (1940); she also studied composition privately with Bohuslav Martinu (1938-1939). In 1937 she conducted the Czech Philharmonic and a year later the BBC Orchestra in her composition Military Sinfonietta, to much critical acclaim. Despite her untimely death in 1940, possibly from typhoid fever, Kapralova left behind an impressive body of work. Her music was admired by Rafael Kubelik, who premiered her orchestral song Waving Farewell and performed several other works, and by Rudolf Firkusny, for whom Kapralova composed April Preludes. In 1946, in appreciation of her distinctive contribution to Czech Music, the foremost academic institution in the country - The Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts - awarded Kapralova membership in memoriam. By 1948, this honor was bestowed on only 10 women, out of 648 members of the Academy. Only one of the ten women was a musician - Kapralova.
Kapralova's creative output includes her highly regarded art songs and music for keyboard, music for cello, music for violin and piano, a reed trio, a string quartet, a cantata, two piano concertos, a concertino for clarinet, violin and orchestra, two orchestral suites, and a sinfonietta. Much of Kapralova's music was published during her lifetime and continues to be published today (some works in subsequent editions) by various publishing houses, including Baerenreiter Verlag, La Sirene Editions Musicales, Editio Supraphon, Egge Verlag, Certosa Verlag, Editio Praga, Czech Radio, HMUB, Melantrich, Svoboda, Pazdirek, and Amos Editio. Kapralova's music has been released on record by Supraphon and on compact disc by Naxos, Koch Records, Supraphon, Northeastern Records, Albany Records, Centaur Records, Czech Radio (Radioservis), Studio Matous, Arco Diva, Stylton Records, and others.
Kapralova's life has inspired two Czech language monographs, two novel-biographies, and other books. In 2011, a long-overdue English language monograph on Kapralova was published by Lexington Books in the United States; a French language monograph on the composer followed in 2015 and a German language monograph in 2017. Furthermore, between 2015 and 2017, the Kapralova Society published in Toronto an important anthology of Kapralova's correspondence. On the occasion of the composer's centenary in 2015, BBC Radio 3 featured Kapralova as their Composer of the Week, dedicating five hours of programming to her life and music.
The Kapralova Society is a Canadian non-profit arts organization, founded in 1998 in Toronto. An affiliate member of the International Alliance for Women in Music, the Society's mission is to promote interest in Kapralova and other women in music through research, education, and special projects, often in partnership with schools of music, public broadcasters, publishers and other organizations. We encourage and assist recording and publishing of Kapralova's music and seek to build awareness of women's contributions to musical life through our online resources.