Bohsulav Martinů was a Czech composer and violinist of the 20th century. Although not one of the foremost 20th century composers, his music is consistent, innovative, and of a high quality. Having studied in Paris, his works are very much influenced by jazz and neo-classical composers. His Czech roots are also obvious in his abundant use of folk songs. Martinů’s music has a very distinctive style, most likely resulting from his isolation in a church tower as a child. He composed a significant number of works, despite beginning to be a composer of note in his late 20s.
Bohuslav Martinů was born in 1890 in the small town of Polička, Czechoslovakia, on the Bohemian side of the Bohemian-Moravian border. His father worked as a cobbler, fire-watcher, and rang the church bells. For these reasons, the family lived in a church tower. The isolation and distance provided by the tower later influenced his personality and compositional style. At a young age, Martinů started violin lessons, where he developed rapidly. He led the Polička quartet and made his first solo appearance at the age of 15. It was also around this time that he wrote his string quartet, The Three Riders (1902). Due to his promising talent, the town raised funds to send him to the conservatory in Prague. His studies however, did not go according to plan; he was a terrible student. His poor attendance eventually led to his expulsion.