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 voice teacher 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 and Vilem Steinman (1930-1935). She continued her studies with Vitezslav Novak and Vaclav Talich at the Master School of the Prague Conservatory (1935-1937), and further advanced her musical education at the Ecole normale de musique in Paris with Charles Munch (1937-1938) and, according to some unverified accounts, with Nadia Boulanger (1940), while also studying composition privately with Bohuslav Martinu (1938-1939). In 1937, Kapralova conducted the Czech Philharmonic and a year later the BBC Orchestra in her Military Sinfonietta, to much critical acclaim. Despite her untimely death in 1940, from what was misdiagnosed as miliary tuberculosis, Kapralova left behind an impressive body of work. Her music was much admired by Rafael Kubelik who premiered her orchestral song Waving Farewell and performed several other works; so did Rudolf Firkusny, for whom Kapralova composed April Preludes and Two Dances for Piano. In 1946, in appreciation of her distinctive contribution, the foremost academic institution in the country - the Czech Academy of Sciences and the 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 and piano, violin and piano, a reed trio, a string quartet, two piano concertos, a concertino for clarinet, violin and orchestra, two orchestral suites, a sinfonietta, two choruses, and a cantata. Some of Kapralova's music was published during her life (Pazdirek, HMUB, Melantrich, and La Sirene éditions musicales), and continued to be published following the composer's death (some works in multiple editions) by various publishing houses at home and abroad (Svoboda, Editio Supraphon, Editio Praga, Amos Editio, Egge Verlag, Certosa Verlag, and Czech Radio). Kapralova's music has been released on record by Supraphon, on compact disc by Naxos, Koch Records, Supraphon, Gramola, Northeastern Records, Albany Records, Centaur Records, Czech Radio (Radioservis), Studio Matous, Arco Diva, Stylton Records, and others, and as digital audio by Supraphon, Radioservis, and Wave Theory Records.
Kapralova's life has inspired two Czech language monographs, two novels, and other books. In 2011, a long-overdue English language book on Kapralova was published by Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield) in the United States; a French language monograph on the composer followed in 2015 and a German language publication in 2017. Furthermore, since 2015, The Kapralova Society has been publishing 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 music.
The Kapralova Society is a Canadian non-profit music society, 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.
"Kapralova’s Partita shows her to be one of the great musical talents of her time. This is music of huge appeal and a profound quality.
Had she lived longer, she could have been the 20th Century’s female Shostakovich or Walton, or perhaps a female Leonard Bernstein,
striding across the worlds of conducting and composing with equal command.
But every piece she did leave us is a real treasure; this one perhaps most of all." Kenneth Woods