To celebrate Janacek's birthday I thought I'd find some nice YouTube clips of his music. Starting with what is arguably his most famous work his Sinfonietta. This is a powerful version by the Wiener Philharmonika conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. The opening of this work is such a stirring piece, but with that edge that something is different. Then it launches into a dance of instruments before a gentle clarinet leads us to a meadow, then back to the dance and on the piece goes, it really is an amazing work.
The orchestral suite from his opera The Cunning Little Vixen is a new discovery for me, thank you internet. Strong opening with strings and brass, moving into a beautiful softer passage - Leos was clearly one for shifts in mood. And the flutes and violins moving against the deeper percussive sounds are stunning. Why have I not heard this before? Rustic in feel but with drama and beauty mixed. The ending is strong percussively but strangely stark compared to the rest of the work.
I'll provide some quick links to two of my other favourites of his - the Lachian Dances, which are a collection of dances he wrote towards the end of his life looking back at the countryside the modern world had changed forever; and his Taras Bulba Rhapsody, written in response to the novel of the same name by Gogol.
There's a lot more great music Janacek wrote I'm sure. Keep exploring people!