MLÁDÍ (Youth)

Wind sextet by Leoš Janáček

arranged for string quartet by Kryštof Mařatka


- I. Allegro
- II. Andante sostenuto
- III. Vivace
- IV. Allegro animato

Duration: 18’

Premiere: Zemlinsky Quartet, Tivoli Vredenburg Utrecht (Holland), March 2016

Publisher: Bärenreiter Prague
Náměstí Jirího z Poděbrad 112/19, 130 00 Praha 3, Czech Republic
Tel: +420 274 ​​001 911 /


Zemlinsky Quartet

Extract from the score:

Notes on the work:

The nuance between the terms “transcription” and “arrangement” remains ambiguous. I am noticing that some professionals consider the arrangement as close to the universe of Jazz and to various branches other than art music, while others are doing the opposite, placing the arrangement above the transcription for its artistic contribution to the original work.

In the case of my work on Mládí, I would use the term arrangement, as it has been conceiving as a “creative” adaptation of the Moravian Master’s original score. In order to do so, I thus had to mobilize all the knowledge and skills that I have acquired as a composer, but also as an interpreter and admiring listener, since my young age, of Janáček’s music.

Before talking about the work of composer-arranger itself, it is important to mention the reason why I decided to arrange Mládí for string quartet. Various reasons can motivate the undertaking of an arrangement or a transcription: lack of repertoire, practical reasons, thorough study of a work, or further expansion of the potential of a work by the composer himself. But an arrangement can also arise from a purely artistic need, from an inner listening to the work, from the intuition of additional potential in concord with the original: this is the case of my arrangement of Mládí.

Such work is very risky and must be conditioned by the total respect of the “spirit” of the original version, the knowledge of the composer’s style and the technical aspects of his orchestration as studied in other works – in our case, Janáček’s two string quartets: the Kreutzer Sonata and the Intimate Letters.

Several key parameters of my work are worth mentioning. First, the texture. If I have dared to touch this very specific piece, it is because the result augured to preserve the essential, the original work’s homogeneity. A group of six instruments of the same family (wind instruments) metamorphoses into a group of four instruments of another family – the strings. Thus, the fundamental entity remains preserved.

It would probably have been impossible for me to obtain such a result in the case of a string quartet arrangement of a piano piece (On an Overgrown Path for example) or orchestration for instrumental ensemble of a piece for piano and voice (for example The Diary of One Who Disappeared).

Throughout my work, it was necessary to stay aware of the stylization, i. e. of the way to express the musical speech and to adapt it, if necessary, so that it stays faithful to the string quartet style specific to the composer, sometimes at the cost of modifying certain elements. Here are some particularly striking examples of such changes, with regard to the original for wind sextet:

- 1st movement, bars 55-61: the dramatic strength of this passage, based on a solo of the horn, is reinforced by successively adding to a violoncello solo the other instruments of the quartet, in unison and at the octave.

- 3rd movement, measures 124-129: to remain faithful to the lyricism and the tenderness of this passage, the arrangement uses the same stylization as that of the 4th movement of the Intimate Letters (Andante, measure 191): the 1st violin plays a repetitive figure in the high notes (oscillation between a minor seventh E-D, and E an octave higher); the second violin plays the main melodic part at the lower range compared to the accompaniment of the first violin; the viola plays a repetitive figure similar to that of the first violin, but in a deep tessitura, and the violoncello holds a quarter D-G pedal, thus maintaining the notion of the G Major tonality.

- 4th movement, bars 155-176: originally, there is an oboe solo, later supported by repeated notes of the horn and bassoon, then the solo goes to the clarinet and the flute. This dramatic passage metamorphosed into the arrangement for string quartet into a discourse of the first violin in fortissimo, followed by a frenzied tremolo of the other strings, as can be found in the 4th movement of the Intimate Letters (measure 231). This choice was based on the will to accentuate the dramatic culmination of the whole piece.

Other stylization figures were also necessary to adapt the work to the specific universe of the string quartet: pizzicati (for example, in the 1st movement, bars 30, 62-75, 119-123), harmonics (3rd movement, measures 144, 199-200), octave changes (4th movement, bars 172-176), or even the discrete addition of a counterpoint (3rd movement, bars 80-91).

As far as dynamics are concerned, adjustments have naturally emerged as necessary because of the sound difference between wind instruments and strings.

As for the tempi, generally speaking, in Mládí, Janáček does not always indicate metronomic markings. I made the choice to offer precise indications based on my interpretation of the tempi relations between the different passages in order to make the interpretation more clear.