Saturday, July 3, 2010

The National Anthem of the Czech Republic

The National anthem of the Czech Republic is "Kde domov můj?" (Where is My Home?. The music to the anthem was composed by Frantisek Jan Skroup, a main Revivalist composer of Czech music and especially Czech opera. This song was taken from the first stanza of the opera "Fidlovačka" , which was written by Josef Kajetán Tyl and performed in 1834. It became the first part of the Czechoslovak state anthem after the country's liberation in 1918. Upon dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993, the song became the anthem of the new Czech Republic.

František Jan Škroup (June 3, 1801, Osice near Hradec Králové – February 7, 1862, Rotterdam; was a Czech composer and conductor. His brother Jan Nepomuk Škroup was also a successful composer and his father, Dominik Škroup, and other brother Ignác Škroup were lesser known composers.

At the age of eleven he moved to Prague where he supported himself as a choir boy and flautist. He continued his schooling at one of the most important Czech national revival movement centres, Hradec Králové, where he was a choirboy at the cathedral. While there he studied with the local choirmaster and composer Franz Volkert(1767–1831). He later moved back to Prague to study at the university. He became a fairly successful opera and singspiel composer producing more than a dozen stage works. Among Škroup's part time jobs was organist at the "Temple of the Israelite Society for Regulated Worship," known since the late nineteen-forties as the "Spanish synagogue." His last position was as the musical director of the German opera in Dutch Rotterdam. He died there and, as a person without means, was buried in a group grave. He also produced an oratorio, a mass, and a few other sacred works. He is best remembered today as the author of the melody for the Czech national anthem "Kde domov můj?".

Josef Kajetán Tyl (4 February 1808 Kutná Hora – 11 July 1856 Pilsen was a significant Czech dramatist, writer and actor. He was a notable figure of the Czech National Revival moviement and is best known as the author of the current national anthem of the Czech Republic. He was the first-born son of Jiří Tyl, a tailor and retired military band oboe player, and hs wife Barbora née Králíková, daughter of a miller and groats maker. He was christened Josef František, yet this name was changed into Josef Kajetán when he underwent confirmation at the age of eleven. The family surname had several written forms - Tylly, Tylli, Tilly or Tyll - and was later changed to Tyl. Josef Kajetán had four younger siblings: one brother and three sisters, but except sister Anna none of them survived till adulthood.

After finishing elementary school, Josef Kajetán studied at a grammar school in Prague and in Hradec Králové. Among his teachers belonged the leading Czech linguist and writer Josef Jungmann and the playwright Václav Kliment Klicpera. After finishing his studies at the grammar school, he started to study philosophy in Prague.

Already as a student, Tyl started to be active in theatre and finally left school to become a member of the Hilmer travelling theatre company. When the company disbanded after two years of journeying around the countryside, he returned to Prague and got a job of a clerk in an infantry regiment's office. In his free time he wrote theatre plays and worked as an actor at the Estates Theatre. Due to his abilities he could leave his job in the military in 1842, as he was given a full time job at the Estates Theatre, where he became the director, organizer and playwright of the Czech ensemble in the otherwise mainly German theater. In 1833 Tyl became a redactor of a renewed Czech magazine called Květy (Blossoms), which exists until today. He was also a redactor of the magazines Vlastimil and Pražský posel (Prague Messenger), and of the newspaper Sedlské noviny (Peasant newspapers), that were later banned because of his political involvement.

Tyl used several pen names that were often derived from the name of his home town Kutná Hora, for example Horský, Horník, Kutnohorský and Vítek. In the revolutionary year 1848 Tyl became politically active and was briefly a member of the Austrian parliament in Vienna. Because he fought for the independence of the Czech nation from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, he was later marked as politically unreliable by the authorities and expelled from the Estates Theatre. He wanted to found his own travelling theatre company but his request was rejected, so in 1851 he joined an existing one and left for a tour, together with his family. Yet the theatre company did not fare well, and the Tyl family ended up in poverty. In 1856, during his theatre's stay in Pilsen, the 48 years old Tyl died of an unknown illness and was buried at a local cemetery.