Drdla, Frantisek Alois

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František (Franz) Alois Drdla was born in November of 1868 in Saar (Žďár nad Sázavou), Czech Republic. He attended the Prague Conservatory for two years and relocated to Vienna Conservatory, where he was taught violin by Josef Hellmesberger and composition by Franz Krenn  and Josef Bohuslav Foerster (Forster). Another of his composition teachers was Anton Bruckner at Vienna Conservatory.

Franz won multiple prizes at a young age while participating in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music in Vienna). He was serving as a violinist to t he Orchestra of Hofoper (Vienna Court Opera) in the 1890s and then began touring Europe. Following his successful tours he began showing more strength as a composer. He’d notably dedicated a serenade for violin and fortepiano to Jan Kubelik (Taught by Otakar Ševčík) who premiered it.

Mr. Drdla dedicated the Duo Concertante op.200 in E for Violin, Cello, and Piano to Fritz Kreisler: A challenging piece for all instruments involved (Not yet in the public domain in the USA):

It begins with a short strange intro by the piano, transitioning into E major and introducing the stringed instruments with a down-bow ricochet scale, a challenging double-stop chromatic ascension and a few more technically demonstrative passages that turn into a gorgeous melody. Listen to a short sample of the piece here, (midi performance).

Another rarely-known gem by Drdla is his version of Carmen Fantasie by Bizet.

It poses its own sets of challenges that differ from Sarasate, Hubay, and Waxman’s Carmen Fantasies (All of which are written for violin and piano). It is an advanced adaptation, but moderate compared to the others, and therefor more technically accessible.

Drdla’s Humoresque (Humoreske), an adorable composition, has rhythmical and structural similarities to Dvorak’s Humoresque:

He had written a violin Concertino in A minor op.255 that provides excellent technical challenges for intermediate students. Reasonable double stops and chords that tend to be fit for the students hand structure in preparation for harder chords, doubled notes (as in Jenkinson’s Elves Dance), 5th position, Pizzicato, and bowing back and forth over multiple strings.

His Violin concerto in D minor op.245 is extremely advanced. It is somewhat reminiscent of Wieniawski’s second violin concerto with Paganini-esque qualities. A gorgeous masterpiece worth more performances than it was given. Listen here: