Biography

Early life

Leoš Janáček, son of schoolmaster Jiří (1815–1866) and Amalie (née Grulichová) Janáčková (1819–1884), was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire). He was a gifted child in a family of limited means, and showed an early musical talent in choral singing. His father wanted him to follow the family tradition, and become a teacher, but deferred to Janáček’s obvious musical abilities. In 1865 young Janáček enrolled as a ward of the foundation of the Abbey of St. Thomas in Brno, where he took part in choral singing under Pavel Křížkovský and occasionally played the organ. One of his classmates, František Neumann, later described Janáček as an “excellent pianist, who played Beethoven symphonies perfectly in a piano duet with a classmate, under Křížkovský’s supervision”. Křížkovský found him a problematic and wayward student but recommended his entry to the Prague Organ School. Janáček later remembered Křížkovský as a great conductor and teacher.

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