The 8th Symphony “Antiphonies”, Op. 54, by Miloslav Kabeláč was written in 1970 as a reflection of the composer’s feelings from the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the onset of so-called “normalization” process in the society, which means renewal of strong dictate of the regime of pro-Soviet communist rulers, including heavy loss of basic freedoms for citizens of the country.
The composition consists of nine parts – five movements and four interludes, structure of which is controlled by a firm logical order, proportionally and symmetry. Its structural and expressive axis is the third – the longest movement. The intermedia linking the individual movements correspond both in time and music and differ only in an alternately opposite dynamic succession. The work is written for a percussion ensemble (6 musicians), the organ, a coloration soprano and two mixed choirs (large and small). The text of the vocal part is taken from the Old Testament.
The 8th Symphony was inspired by Les Percussions de Strasbourg which presented its premiere with the Czech soloists Jana Jonášová (soprano) and Václav Rabas (organ) in Strasbourg in June 1971.