Reminiscences - Leoš Janáček

Reminiscences is the solo piano piece composed by Leoš Janáček in 1929 and 1932. It is one of the most popular pieces in Janáček's oeuvre, having become a part of the repertoire of major concert pianists around the globe.

History & Release of the Piece

Leoš Janáček's Reminiscences was composed in two parts. In 1929, Janáček composed the four-movement Piano Sonata 1, 1.X.1905 that includes Part II of Reminiscences. The other part, Part I, was composed in 1932.

The piece was first performed in 1933 by Jarmila Novotná who had earlier performed his song cycle repertoire. The world premiere of the piece was conducted by Josef Palenicek at the National Theatre in Prague.

Analysis from the Point of View of Music Theory

The two-part composition is marked by Janáček's characteristic use of polyrhythmic and polytonal elements. Emotional intensity is the main feature in most of his composition, and in Reminiscences this is rendered by the use of oscillating rhythms, chromatic thematic transformations, and modal and tonal shifts of varying harmonic space in chords.

The piece also features a great melodic variety. Despite being a non-programmatic piece, Janáček used to refer to the title of the piece as ‘sound reminiscences of childhood memory’, lending insight into what emotions the piece is likely to evoke.

Popularity of the Piece

Despite the complex nature of the composition from a music theory point of view, the piece was very popular and soon entered the concert hall repertoire. It was acclaimed by both pianists and critics alike and has since been regularly performed by professional pianists all over the world.

The composition has been recorded by some of the most renowned classical pianists, including Radoslav Kvapil, Shura Cherkassky, and Rudolf Firkusny. It has also been transcribed to be played by instruments such as the violin and cello, further increasing its popularity.


Leoš Janáček's Reminiscences is an expressive solo piano piece that is both musically complex and emotionally poignant. Its popularity has persisted over the decades and has made itself a part of the standard repertoire of any classical pianist.

Publication date: 28. 02. 2023