Arts-Scène Diffusion

Quatuor Akilone


The Unbearable Lightness of Being


In his famous novel, the Czech writer Milan Kundera uses the figure of Beethoven as a link between his two main characters: Tomas and Tereza, who are in the grip of the inexorable - lightness, weight, the bond of love, fate. The paths of life intertwine between Zurich and Prague.

These three works are the last written by these men before they die. Three men whom love has also bitten, blossomed, wounded, accompanied them all their lives. For Janáček, this Lettres intimes quartet recounts his impossible love for the young dancer with whom he fell madly in love at the end of his life. Dvořák, on the other hand, was in love all his life with his wife's sister, Josefina, who did not want him, and whose presence can be seen throughout his work. With his letter to his eternal beloved, Beethoven, a good artichoke heart, caused more ink to flow than he could ever have imagined.

In this last quartet, Beethoven writes in the margin of his score this famous quote: "Muss es sein? Es muss sein! Must it be? It must! Also translatable as "it must be". A quote that Kundera has his main character Tomas say when he returns to Prague for Tereza. The third movement of this quartet, 'Süsser Ruhegesang, Friedensgesang' (sweet song of rest; peace), recalls the scene by the stream from the Pastoral Symphony.

Janáček and Dvořák, both Czechs as well, made their culture shine while remaining open to the world; Janáček through his link with Austria and Dvořák with his move to the United States. Both were great admirers of Beethoven, who was born in Germany and lived practically all his life in Vienna.

Through the prism of Kundera's work, we wish to cross the last glimpses of life of these three men touched by love and art, and let us hear the message they reveal to us about their brief passage in this world.


Ludwig VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
String quartet n.16 in F major op.135 25'

Leoš JANACEK (1854-1928)
String quartet no.2 "Lettres intimes" 25'

Antonín DVORAK (1841-1904)
String quartet n.10 in E b major, op.51 33'
"Cypress" B.152 (excerpts) 15'


Related to the upcoming CD “Deep in the Forest” tour (release in October 2024).

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