2016 – violin & piano – 7:15
World Premiere: November 17, 2016, Parliament Hill, Ottawa
November 15, 2016, Montreal; November 16, 2016, Ottawa Steinway Gallery
Ralitsa Tcholakova (violin)
Justyna Gabzdyl (piano)
On April 8, 1975, the Czech writer and activist, Václav Havel, sent an open letter to Dr. Gustav Husák, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The letter, of considerable length, described the undemocratic and totalitarian state of Czechoslovakia at the time. Writing and distributing this letter at this time showed great courage on Havel’s part as this was a period in his life when he would be blacklisted and jailed for his outspokenness and work on human rights issues.
One particular part of the letter caught my attention…
Life cannot be destroyed for good, neither … can history be brought entirely to a halt. A secret streamlet trickles on beneath the heavy lid of inertia and pseudo-events, slowly and inconspicuously undercutting it. It may be a long process, but one day it must happen: the lid will no longer hold and will start to crack. This is the moment when something once more begins visibly to happen, something truly new and unique … something truly historical, in the sense that history again demands to be heard.
Of course, these words would go on to be prophetic. Fourteen and a half years later during the Velvet Revolution, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was dissolved after 41 years of Stalinist rule, and the wheels were put into motion to formulate a democratically elected government. Václav Havel would be its first President.
The late 1980s and early 1990s is often celebrated as a time when the Iron Curtain fell and many countries in Europe gained fundamental democratic rights. But one must not forget the work that took place in the previous decades that laid the foundation of historical events to come. My composition, A Secret Streamlet, is dedicated to all those activists who fought with hope and inspiration that one day their respective homelands would experience what many of us take for granted – Freedom.
– Frank Horvat