Symphony No.5 “Fragment” – Viktor Kalabis

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Václav Neumann

I – : 0:00

Sadly, even the name, let alone the music, of Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006) will be unknown to most readers, yet he was arguably the most important Czech composer in the period following the death of Martinů. His beginnings were deeply influenced by composers like Stravinsky and Hindemith, Honegger and Bartók, and Martinů of course.

Even more important is his role as one of the expressive consciences of post-war Czechia; he never joined the Communist Party and while he did not retreat into external exile, Kalabis wrote the music that he needed to write, not what the cultural apparatchiks of Prague wanted. His life and music prompted attacks and harassment from officialdom.

Composed between 1975 and 1976, the name of this work consisting of just one movement does not refer to any fragmentary character of the music itself. It is derived from the source of its inspiration, the unfinished “Pieta degli Rondanini” by Michelangelo. Kalabis himself did comment: “The absolute perfection of Moses and David seems unsurpassable and I could not believe that it is possible to arrive at yet greater economy of expression.” All the attention is on the central message, not diluting it in any way.

Sources: and