There are not a huge amount of specific pieces I can point to as direct and significant influences on my own compositional voice. The exception is Music Boema, which I had the great pleasure of playing my sophomore year of undergraduate, and hearing again in tandem with the performance of my master's thesis, Supernal Dragonfly, by the same ensemble many years later.
I have found it VERY difficult to find a recording of this piece that I legitimately like, since I feel I was spoiled by the nuance of Robert Ponto's interpretations, but some of the better sounding ones are Rutgers Wind Ensemble playing both movements here and here.
A Brief Overview of Lukáš
Lukáš was immensely prolific, creating a catalogue of music well over 300 works. He prominently served as a choir director to Česká píseň, as well as the program director for the National Broadcasting Company. As such, he is most known for his works in radio theatre and choir, though he is by no means lacking in other areas of compositional output.
He is kind of an anomaly in the grand scheme of a composer in that he was not financially privileged, he went to school almost exclusively to become an educator. From what I can tell, it was purely by his sheer incessant writing and output that he developed such a unique compositional voice while still retaining a bizarre level of universal accessibility.
He wrote music up until the end of his life in 2007.
A bit about the piece
I have found that one of the best speakers on this piece is my former professor and always teacher, Robert Ponto. Here, I present his program notes for this work, which so eloquently illustrates the work:
“Musica Boema (Bohemian Music) was commissioned in 1977 and premiered in 1979 by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stanley DeRusha. Because of the hostile relationship between the United States and the Warsaw Pact of nations during those years, the music had to be smuggled out of [then]-Czechoslovakia for its scheduled premiere.
To my knowledge, the composer never offered program notes or source materials for Musica Boema. Consequently, I do not know whether the composition is derived from folk music, original themes, or a combination of both. The work, consisting of two movements, is highly sectionalized. Formally, it is almost cinematic in nature—perhaps a reflection of [Lukáš’] work in radio theater.
As a descendent of Central Europeans myself, I have long been fascinated by the sociological and artistic consequences of living in a part of the world that has served as a battleground for much of Europe’s history. Bearing in mind this notion, here is my wholly personal narrative of this music:
The first movement begins with alternations of trumpet calls and solemn processions, each growing in numbers and intensity with each repetition. Spurred on by ‘war drums’ (five tom-toms), these give way to other resolute hymns and dances, each one more restive and belligerent.
The opening trumpet calls soon return—and fade—as we are drawn in to an entirely different scene: a flute transports us to a dreamlike space suggesting, perhaps, reminiscenes of other times and places. Harp, bells, and xylophone create a guileless, almost childlike, atmosphere. This trio, along with droning clarinets, are soon joined by an optimistic quartet of saxophones. As is the case with all good Central Europeans however, the cheerfulness must soon end as more militant voices—first heard at the beginning of the movement—return and demand obeisance.
If the first movement is a call to arms, the second is the battle proper. From the very beginning, martial fanfares grow and spread throughout the ensemble. During these, we hear brief vignettes, as though we briefly glimpse remote events concurrent with the battle in progress: war songs; poignant farewells to loved ones; and the like.
A solo clarinet then calls for quiet, perhaps out of respect for a fallen soldier’s funeral cortège. Outbursts of grief and anger can be heard as the procession passes. Eventually, after oration by the bassoons, the military music resumes.
The battles and piece soon end—victoriously we presume—as the opening trumpet call from the first movement is heard once more, but this time in a major key. The music is strong, optimistic, and indomitable.”