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Julia Bogorad-Kogan: My family connection to Bohuslav Martinů

Bohuslav Martinů at the piano. Photo courtesy of @martinuofficial on Facebook.

My mother, Hope Bogorad, told this story about growing up in Queens, New York:

“When I came home for Christmas during my junior year in college in 1941, I found that my parents had tenants in the house. They were Charlotte and Bohuslav Martinů, who had recently escaped from a Europe at war. Mr. Martinů was a world-renowned composer, and his wife was a charming French lady. They were absorbed into the family and participated in the Christmas activities. As a gift I received a manuscript from Mr. Martinů, a piano composition entitled ‘Merry Christmas 1941 to Hope Castagnola.’”

This charming piece has since been transcribed for woodwind quintet and was recorded by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Wind Quintet on Decca. My mother reported that Martinů was a shy man who loved to take long walks in the woods, from which he derived inspiration for his music. Bird songs and other nature sounds, as well as the influence of Czech folk tunes, are evident in his tuneful Nonet.

Julia Bogorad-Kogan, Principal Flutist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra