the age of 11 Janáček was sent by his parents to the Augustian
Monastery in Brno. He became a boarder at the school, a choirboy and
later an organist and from that point on Brno became his permanent home
until his death in 1928.
The second city of the Czech Republic had grown rapidly through the 19th
century. It's nickname of the 'Czech Manchester' indicates that only
through industrial expansion did the city itself grow. The historical
centre (largely preserved today) is relatively small, yet light and some
heavy industry and the vast suburbs stretch into the distance. Its
proximity to Vienna (and a large Austrian population in the Janáček's
day) means that Brno has more in common stylistically with Vienna than
with the Czech capital Prague. The original (German) opera house was
built by the same architects as the Staatsoper in Vienna and the
Ringstrasse built around the historical centre with its bustling trams
and grand late Imperial railway station are highly reminiscent of the
country's old Imperial capital.
Despite the Austrian occupation of the area, Janáček managed to
create for himself and his Czech compatriots an ever-growing world of
Czech culture. A small dance hall was converted to create a Czech
National Theatre. After the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire this
theatre became redundant and the old German Opera House was taken over -
it is there that the premieres of Janáček's later operas took place
(from Káťa Kabanová onwards). The theatre was also the
sight of Janáček's funeral.
Although the city, the composer and his work reflected the Moravian life
he so admired (and would not leave) they also simulate more conventional
mainstream models; the established composers of Prague and Vienna, their
operas and even perhaps the cities themselves, as described by Michael
Small towns may be local centres, but many of
the most educated inhabitants in these places know, as part of
their belief system, that even if they are original and
successful, it is not they who set the styles, nor do they exert
the gravitational pull of newness – that comes from the big
Provincial places like Brno and perhaps too the ‘educated inhabitants’
they produce look longingly towards the big city, the bright lights and
the cultural precedents.
Brno today is beginning to pull itself out of the 'provincial'
assumption it has always suffered under. The musical life that Janáček
and his contemporaries created still thrives. The new opera house (named
after the composer and opened after the Second World War) and two
smaller theatres offer a rich cultural life to its citizens and visitors
and with increasing westernisation after the collapse of the Eastern
Bloc Brno is becoming a great city to visit and enjoy. The
communications with the rest of Europe are excellent, and with direct
flights from London to Brno it is increasingly easy to get to from
Photographs of a recent trip to Brno
Janáček's bust on the front of the Organ School (now a branch of
the Moravian National Museum) he founded.
The house in the grounds of the Organ School where Janáček lived
until his death. This is now a memorial museum to the Composer.
Opening hours for the Museum:
Wednesday 1 p.m.—4 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m.—12 a.m. 1 p.m.—4 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m.—12 a.m. 1 p.m.—4 p.m.
(Closed all other days)
The memorial plaque on the front of the house.
Zelný trh - the cabbage market in Brno.
The inside of the cathedral in Brno
The old (German) opera house in Brno where Káťa Kabanová (1921),
The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), The Makropulos Case
(1926) and From the House of the Dead (1930) were premiered and
where Janáček's funeral took place.
A commemorative plaque at the site of the Czech National Theatre where
Její pastorkyňa was premiered.
Janáček's grave in the municipal cemetery.
The graves of Janáček's children, his wife
and their maid Marie Stejskalova.