Thursday, June 3, 2010
Anyway, as I was walking down the street with Jana, she pointed one of the buildings and told me it was the Janáček Theater. I didn't know about it of course and got interested in it immediately. So I decided to do a bit of research about the connection between Janáček and Brno.
Janáček was born in a town called Hukvaldy (close to Ostrava), in the middle of Moravian land. As you may know, Czech Republic consists of three regions; Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the south-east, and Czech Silesia in the north-east. I will write more about it some other time, but basically Brno is a part of Moravia as well as the town where Janáček was born.
In 1874, Janáček enrolled in an organ school in Prague. After graduating, he returned to Brno and started a career as a music teacher at Brno's Teachers Institute. There, he taught his future wife Zdenka Schulzová. He moved to Germany in 1879 and studied piano, organ, and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory for approx. half a year. He eventually left the conservatory with disappointment. He returned to Brno and married his former student Zdenka in 1881, at the age of 27.
However, at the same time, he started to have an affair with Gabriela Horvátová, who played Kostelnička in the Prague premiere of Jenůfa. The incident led his wife Zdenka to an attempted suicide and their informal divorce. This site shares Zdenka's side of story from the book called "My Life with Janáček," which gives you more perspectives about their relationship and Janáček's personality. In my observation, Janáček was just an innocent old-kid who completely went blind with a very aggressive and forthcoming actress.
Kamila didn't seem to either accept or neglect Janáček. They continued their relationship without consummating it, and it said that Kamila was with Janáček when he died on August 12, 1928.
Most of his 730 letters were kept, and Janáček scholar Svatava Přibáňová published them as "Hádanka života: dopisy Leoše Janáčka Kamile Stösslové", which was translated into English by John Tyrrell and published as "Intimate Letters: Leoš Janáček to Kamila Stösslová" in 1994. You can also read some story behind Janáček's obsession to Kamila here.