“Mario’s” or “Ander’s” were not only visited by Brno cultural bohemians, poets; writers, painters, actors, but also by important figures from all other possible fields. In 1960 and 1970 it was almost a cult place, whose importance still awaits acknowledgement, contemporaries quickly leave this world.
On Saturday 21 March 1953 a group of players of the then Symphonic Orchestra of the Brno region with the conductor Waldhans set off to their traditional first spring walk after one of the rehearsals; they spent afternoon in the hills overlooking Královo Pole and were on their way back to Černá Pole, they made a lot of stops and tried to say goodbye many times but unsuccessfully. Finally, one of them remembered that two of their colleagues were playing in a home quartet at the Hrubeš family that evening; we rang the doorbell of their basement flat in Helfertova street before midnight and started to congratulate the famous opera singer on the first spring night. The quartet was on their way home with their instruments but Eduard found other instruments in his collection, distributed them among the new guests (Waldhans was given a wooden spoon) and he made the ensemble play the whole Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart.
I used to listen to Vilém Přibyl in the Janáček Theatre as a kid and he was one of the few singers who stayed in my memory into the future. He stayed in my head despite several years of a teenage break when opera completly left my life. I am not saying that I recognised his extraordinary abilities already as a child but I did not remember him due to an unusual costume or a non-musical event, so there must have been something about him.
This November it will have been ninety years since the composition of the first of the two string quartets by Leoš Janáček. The composition, which is today a natural part of the international quartet repertoire, has a subtitle which is understood only by a few at first sight: Motivated by the Kreutzer Sonata by L. N. Tolstoy. The name of the Belgian violin virtuoso Rodolphe Kreutzer lives today in the collection of great etudes, which must be mastered by every professional violinist, and then in the said sonata, which however was not written by him, but by Beethoven – he dedicated it to him. Another Kreutzer Sonata was written by Tolstoy, not as a sonata but as a more extensive novel: In that, Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata is the literary motif of one of the characters in a love triangle, a demonic violinist, who charms a young lady, the wife of the narrator, who eventually becomes her murderer.
The Bakalas were an unusual couple. He looked at every moment – perhaps even at home in his pyjamas – like the chief conductor of a large orchestra, especially when his hair began to create a distinctive silver aureole in his mature years; he maintained his aristocratic restraint not only as a conductor but also in social and personal contact, he did not move rapidly, he did not raise his voice; we also never heard of him being on first-name terms with anyone and even musicians who had played under him for fifteen years were not sure if he knew their names. No so Mrs. Marie; wherever she came, she was just everywhere, she had something to talk about with everyone and – what was important – one felt that her warmth was genuine. She did not hide her love and admiration for her husband even though she, as a Brno native, referred to him as that boss of yours; it was characteristic that the orchestra referred to him exclusively as Bakala, while to her as Mařenka.
In the first post war year, my older colleague from the student quartet and I came from Kroměříž to Brno very briefly: he was trying for admission to the conservatory and I quietly envied him. Back then, the conservatory was already housed in its current building, a former German Teachers Institute; Ferda left me waiting in front of it and went in for information with some papers. After a while, he appeared in the company of a dignified-looking man in glasses, to whom he was saying something vehemently; without them noticing me, like peripatetic philosophers they headed towards Lužánky and disappeared around the corner. Ferda returned just in time when I was already determined to go to catch a train back to Kroměříž. He looked a little distracted.
The intersection of human and artistic field lines is something that belongs to the Alfa Passage. Ženíšek's bookstore, HaDivadlo and Metro Music Bar form a triangle to which other specific spaces and activities are attached. This Christmas, they will be joined by the performance of the Czech Christmas Mass by Jan Jakub Ryba for the seventh time. This year's performance's final rehearsal has already taken place; the performance begins today at 10 p.m. The event is organised by HaDivadlo in cooperation with the neighbouring and partnering Švanda café, the actual performance is attended by a wide community of friends. The specific magic of the secular midnight mass in a functionalist church, where the choir stalls are replaced by a gallery, lies in this folksiness and openness. And what is missing in terms of musical perfection is easily compensated for by spontaneity – the spirit of Christmas is apparently revealed here even to non-believers.
Even in musical life things happen that cannot be heard even though it may seem like nonsense. But before the music resounds, something must be done for it, and in the case of an organ concert, it is mainly necessary to build the organ. In October, we published an interview with Jan Martin Bejček about the fact that there will be a new, high-quality instrument in Brno and now we return to the topic. The reason is simple – the organ is already here.
Leoš Janáček (3. June 185–12.August 1928 Ostrava) awaits his round number anniversary – he will have it in the next Year of Czech Music. The Brno opera deals with it as if unable to sell it to the audience, maybe with disdain, it is hard tell from the outside. The only result is that outside the Janáček Brno festival his work is played seldomly and in poor quality. The warning case was the abhorrently done Cunning Little Vixen as part of the Theatre World festival.
The members of the Brno Philharmonic started to appear among the customers of Vaňkovka (Wannieck shopping gallery) yesterday afternoon. They appeared with their instruments dressed casually, in the uniforms of the gallery personnel or as janitors. The unusual performance of Vltava symphonic poem was led by the chief conductor Aleksandar Marković , while Pavel Šporcl accompanied on violin.
On Saturday, 18 May, the Philharmonic will for the first time add its Besední dům to the Brno Museum Night. Visitors, for whom the viewing of the foyer with its installed exhibition and information material is not enough, will have the opportunity to take an hour-long guided tour of the palace (from 7:00 p.m. every hour): it will lead across the ceremonial staircase into the large hall (talk about the history of the Besední dům and its current function with a mini concert), then through the office of the chief conductor to the directors' lounge (talk about the Philharmonic and another mini concert) and then to the sound room (an ensemble rehearsal room where visitors will hear a third mini concert and can have their questions answered); when leaving they will once again see the hall from the gallery and pass through the small hall (with a bust of Břetislav Bakala) back into the foyer. A musical performance will be performed in the first half of the evening/night - students and choirs of the Smetanova Art School, and then in the second half by the members of the Philharmonic.
If an unknowing foreigner had walked through the centre of Brno at night on Monday, he would have been amazed how lively the city was. A large group of dancing people, who were not led by anyone, radiated the joy of movement and rhythm. Everyone in it was in it for themselves, yet part of a community that came to celebrate the International Day of Dance. It has been celebrated in the world for thirty-one years and it reached us in 2010. This year's part in Brno was initiated and convened by Kateřina Honzírek Hanzlíková, Dash Jiříčková, Jan Ondruška and Michaela Ondrašinová. This included dance improvisation in front of JAMU and in Denisovy sady, dance lessons for children with Kateřina H. Hanzlíková and contemporary dance lessons with Dash Jiříčková in the S lehkou hlavou studio. Probably the most visible part of the celebrations was a dance parade through the city which started at Josefská, circled around the city past the cafés Tungsram and Trojka and through Rašínova they danced all the way to Náměstí Svobody.
The Olomouc Baroque Festival has begun. In the local Jesuit Convent the seventh year of the festival opened with the modern premiere of the serenata Il tribunale di Giove by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The work was first performed at the birthday celebrations for the Prussian King Frederick the Great on 27 January 1775 and after a repeat in Wroclaw in 1777 it fell into oblivion. The Ensemble Damian decided to reverse this unfortunate fate, and led by the ensemble’s artistic director and director Tomáš Hanzlík they attempted to revive the work. Appearing in the solo roles were Leandro Lafont (Fate and Apollo), Kristýna Vylíčilová (the Genius of Europe and Minerva), Lucie Kaňková (Time and Fortune), Monika Jägerová (Jupiter) and Jakub Rousek (Mars). The costumes and backdrops were designed by the director Hanzlík.
The Slunce [Sun] Festival in Strážnice will be held for the twentieth time this year. Especially lovers of folk music and classical big beat have marked the dates of 12th and 13th July in their calendars. We talked to the director of the Slunce Festival Pavel Kopřiva about the history of the festival, its top moments and hardships, as well as what this year's festival season will be like.
The end of the first school-holiday week was carried in the spirit of celebrations. The 7th of July in fact falls on the birthday of Alena Veselá, a prominent Brno organist and a professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), who celebrated an impressive age of 96 years on that day. The concert, organised particularly for this jubilee, was also the final event of the 39th Brno Organ Festival and as a celebration of the birthday of its founder (and now patron of the whole show), it already has a strong position in the festival programme.
Last weekend, the 74th Strážnice International Folklore Festival 2019 as well as the 37th Strážnice Children's Folklore Festival were held in the South Moravian Mecca of folklore. The biggest folklore festival in the Czech Republic enjoys great interest and it wasn't any different this year either, despite tropical temperatures, with tens of thousands of people coming back to Strážnice again.
On the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Jiří Orten, the company ProArt prepared a multi-genre project called Ohnice – Where the Wind Is Dancing in the former Brno penitentiary on Cejl Street. The poetic production with verses of the young poet, which reflected his hard and short life, was premiered on 25 June.
The twenty-fourth season of the Concentus Moraviae international music festival came to an end after almost a month of rich musical experiences. Musical works, thematically labelled as the Concert of Nations, guided the festival visitors around thirteen picturesque Moravian towns and gave them a taste of key musical works of (not only) European nations. All this was moreover served in the interpretation of more than twenty world-famous ensembles. With the conscious transnational, cross-border concept overreaching the Czech border, the festival organizers chose the Golden Hall of the renowned Musikverein Concert House as a suitable venue for the closing evening. The extraordinary finals of the 24th season opened thus a series of Concerts of Czech-Austrian Partnership and at the same time announced the celebration of the festival's quarter of a century to be celebrated next year. In accordance with this symbolic overture of the concert, the main star of the festival was the patron of the festival and famous singer Magdalena Kožená, accompanied by the no less famous Collegium 1704 orchestra led by Václav Luks.
One of the biggest promises of the 24th Concentus Moraviae international festival was yesterday’s concert of the legendary Borodin Quartet, whose unique sound is the result not only of hard work but also collaboration with the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This personal and interpretive trail still influences the group and is passed on to each new member. The programme took place in the library of the castle in Náměšť nad Oslavou , where in the 18th and 19th centuries it was the residence music-loving Haugwitz family. The music of Sergei Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn and Dmitri Shostakovich could be heard by the audience in a venue that was more than merely dignified.
In the summer months Špilberk Castle’s courtyard often resounds to the sound of music. Until September it is possible to combine a tour of the castle with a cultural experience. The organizers have tried to prepare a programme across genres that has something for everyone. Yesterday it was the turn of folk music. Despite the adverse weather the stage was dominated by the Military Art Ensemble Ondráš.
The last premiere of the Brno opera season for the first time ever and rather unusually combined two works. The Janáček Theatre presented the surrealist opera Three Fragments of Juliette by Bohuslav Martinů along with the small opera work The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc. The composed evening, with direction and stage design by David Radok, brought together two almost absurd worlds. And this connection was indeed remarkable dramaturgically, visually but also interpretatively.
The Polish ensemble Szymanowski Quartet at the Concentus Moraviae Festival presented works by their compatriots Karol Szymanowski, Stanisław Moniuszko and Gražyna Bacewicz in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Řeznovice yesterday. The concert was part of worldwide celebrations of the two-hundredth anniversary of birth of Stanisław Moniuszko, which is considered by many to be the founder of Polish national music. The evening was held under the auspices of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Czech Republic, HE Barbara Ćwioro.
Visitors to concerts meet quite often with quartet compositions written by masters of European music. Haydn's string quartets are perennial stars in the repertoire of a number of ensembles and attention is also paid to works of contemporary European composers. Only exceptionally, however, can listeners take a peek into the musical cuisine of Asian or South American nations. Cuarteto Q-Arte decided to fill this blank space and dedicated itself to the works of Latin American authors. The programme, which they presented yesterday at the chateau in Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz), consisted of works by Silvestre Revueltas, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla. All these three composers combine elements of domestic culture with European training and influences or impulses of different genres.
Why be one of the many average bands when we can be a unique band? The ten-year history of the Brno group Kupodivu could be squeezed into this motto. In 2009, saxophonist Jaroslav Pilný and keyboard player Petr Šašinka first talked about forming a band. In 2019, the band Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing its first full-length album. Exactly in the middle of this ten-year period, in 2014, an important change took place when the original folk band was transformed into an interesting shape with keyboards, saxophone and bass, but without a guitar. The line-up, which resembles rather jazz bands in recent years, has scored at a lot of folk festivals in recent years. Kupodivu won the Porta award for authors, the Rada Notování [Council of Notation] award, won the Moravský vrabec [Moravian Sparrow], and won second place at the Mohelnický dostavník [Mohelnice Stagecoach]. At all these venues they performed music that rather than campfires fits into city clubs, and by far not only folk ones. The album Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts] summarizes the band's work so far in a dignified way, underlined by the quality sound from the Zlín Studio V.
The Jerusalem Quartet is one of the world's leading quartet performers for many years and is currently one of the most cited chamber music ensembles. At the Concentus Moraviae festival, violinists Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov performed in the Great Chateau of Mikulov Castle with a programme stretching in time from Joseph Haydn up to Béla Bartók. The concert was held under the auspices of the Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic, HE Daniel Meron.
Man does not live by classical music alone, as the Epoque Quartet, consisting of violinists David Pokorný, Vladimír Klánský, violist Vladimír Kroupa and cellist Vít Petrášek has been convincing us for twenty years already. For their Saturday concert, staged as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, which took place in the foyer of the Pasáž theatre in Třebíč, the musicians also invited bass clarinettist Petr Valášek, pianist Karel Košárek and percussionist Oleg Sokolov. The programme of the evening consisted entirely of works by contemporary authors flirting in their compositions not only with musical minimalism, but also with jazz and other popular genres.
Znojmo Music Festival enters its 15th season this year. The programme includes concerts, opera performances, gastronomy and a programme for children. The opening concert, performed by the patron of the festival Pavel Šporcl and the PKF - Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Derek Gleeson, is dedicated to the reminder of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The culmination of the festival is the premiere of the scenic oratorio Saul by G. F. Handel. The title roles will be performed by Andreas Scholl and Adam Plachetka. The show will be directed by Tomáš Pilař.
The 165th anniversary of the birth of Leoš Janáček falls on today, Wednesday 3 July 2019. Janáček is one of our opera composers most frequently played abroad. TIC Brno dedicated a tram to him for his birthday this year, with the main characters from his operas graphically rendered by Brno artist Vendulka Chalánková. Janáček also has his own website, an educational trail, a memorial and an opera festival.
The autumn program of the Fléda music club in Brno contains big names of the music world. The August visit of Jon Hopkins', who will appear at the Brno Marathon of Music festival is already at its imaginary beginning. The autumn season officially opens with a September dance party featuring GusGus from Iceland. This will be followed by concerts of Hooverphonic with a new singer, Jan Blomqvist & Band with their complete Disconnected project or the Berlin legend DJ Hell with his Zukunftmusic composition. Rockers De Staat will bring their novelty titled The Bubble Gum, Movits! their most hip-hop record so far – the double album V, Kadebostany in turn will bring their album Monumental. Last but not least, Vitalic with Rebeka Warrior will also be featured presenting their KCompromat project.
The album collects folklore tunes and songs from the Moravian meadows. After several years of work on the Anthology of Moravian Folk Music, the Indies Scope label decided to continue with a new series of folklore recordings called Malovaná truhla [Painted Chest]. One of them is the album Kosecké písně [Mowers' Songs]. The album features Kubíci dulcimer music band from Horňácko, Women's Choir of Hrubá Vrbka, Chotár male choir from Horňácko and others.
Traditionally, the beginning of the summer holidays is accompanied by the festival Boskovice – for the Jewish Quarter. This year's 27th edition will be launched by the Les Bubbey Mayse quartet from France, inspired by Klezmer and traditional Yiddish songs. The musical program also features concerts of bands such as Neurobeat, Khoiba, Kittchen & Aid Kid with Tomáš Neuwerth or Panenské plameny.
The Kamenka Open multi-genre festival will revive the meadow in the Kamenná kolonie neighbourhood in Brno for the tenth time already. This year's guests include Funky Pappa, Jamiroquai Tribute Band and Pleasure Portable. Theatres will be represented by the Hysterie Theatre, Koráb Theatre or the Bez Pravidel Theatre.