Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hukvaldy, Czech Republic - Janáček's birthplace

On the way to Brno from Krakow, we stopped at a small town called Hukvaldy. I have been interested in Janáček, and I read a couple of books about him, his wife, and his initimate love towards Kamila Stösslová, which I have also mentioned in my past posting.  I have been wanting to visit Hukvaldy, where he was born and where he returned eventually by purchasing a cottage in 1921, 7 years before his death.  He composed many pieces there, and I could tell by reading his book that he loved being there. He also desperately wanted Kamila to visit him there, and he added a second floor to his cottage just for the purpose. Kamila visited him finally with one of his sons, but after a week or so her visit, Janáček got sick there in his cottage and died eventually at a hospital in Ostrava accompanied by Kamila.

Since Hukvaldy was on our way back to Brno from Krakow, I asked my hubby to stop there, and he did! Thanks hon!  It was close to 5pm when we got there, as our car navigation system was completely confused. But, we managed to get into Janáček's birthplace, which is now an information center with a small museum about Janáček, before it was closed. We also learned that his cottage was open to the public until 5:30pm. The lady at the information center said that we should not drive up, so we walked, but the map was confusing and we got lost again. 

I had half given up on the visit to his cottage when we ran into a man with his dog walking towards us. We asked him whether he knew where Janáček's cottage was (I think we were speaking in English, but I don't remember exactly how we communicated).  And he pointed us in the right direction, and we found it!!!  And right around the time we arrived there, a car approached us and stopped beside us.  It was a person who worked for the Janáček Foundation (or something of that sort).  The cottage was already closed; he had apparently come back as he saw us walking by. He kindly opened the cottage for us and showed us around the cottage. It was truly nice of him.

The cottage is in a comfortable size. Some rooms were recently renovated, but the front room and Janáček’s bedroom have been kept as they were. The harmonium he played (and annoyed Stösslová with, by playing it throughout the night) is still there, too, placed under the portrait of the composer on his wedding day.  Something which got my attention was the pictures on his desk. His wife Zdenka's picture was in the middle. Despite all the hardship during their marriage, did Janáček keep his wife's picture in the center?  After reading the books, I somewhat felt that Janáček did have deep empathy to Zdenka, and I felt that the picture proved it. Anyway, I felt like I was living in the life expressed in the books.  It was a thrilling experience.

We bought his picture book and two CDs and left happily for Brno. Hukvaldy was indeed a beautiful small village. I would not mind living there at all, either :)

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