Janáček is readily associated with his adopted home of Brno, the capital
of Moravia, he was actually born further towards the Polish border of
the country, in a small village called Hukvaldy. He was sent away from
the village by his parents at the age of 11 to be educated at the
‘Queen’s’ Augustinian Monastery in Brno, but the village of his birth
was always held dear to him and he returned there frequently.
In 1921 he bought a cottage in the village, to which he eventually added
a second floor, largely for the visit of Kamila Stösslová. Various works
were composed here, but of course most famously the surrounding
countryside, nestling in amongst the Beskedý hills, inspired The Cunning
Little Vixen. It was in Hukvaldy that Janáček caught the pneumonia which
was to eventually kill him in August, 1928.
cottage was kept as a memorial to the composer, and following
renovations a few years ago it is now a charming museum, replete with
manuscripts, designs from the operas and details of the composer’s life
in the village. The front room and Janáček’s bedroom are kept as they
were left. The harmonium he played (and annoyed Stösslová with, by
playing it throughout the night) is still there, placed under the
portrait made of the composer on his wedding day.
It is difficult to travel to the village without a car, though there are
bus connections from the train station at Hranice na Moravě – which
connects to Olomouc, Ostrava, Brno and Prague. You can also travel to
Ostrava or Príbor and change there. The easiest journey is by car.
trip to Hukvaldy is an absolute must on the Janáček trail around the
Czech Republic – like Elgar’s home near Worcester or Britten’s Aldeburgh
– and it’s well worth the time and effort to get there. It’s a tranquil
haven away from the rush of the cities, or, to quote the Forester’s
final numinous monologue from The Cunning Little Vixen…
When evening arrives, I welcome the rays of the setting sun. How
splendid stands the forest! Spring comes once again and woodland spirits
now return in Maytime, dancing and running and laughing and eagerly
waiting for Love!
Photographs from a recent trip to Hukvaldy
A distant view of Hukvaldy (approaching from Príbor)
A commemorative plaque on the Hukvaldy Vixen statue.
The Vixen statue in Hukvaldy.
The centre of the village.
The schoolhouse where Janáček was born.
The cottage Janáček bought in 1921. The additional room for Kamila Stösslová
is visible on the second floor.
The front room of the house. The portrait of Janáček over the
harmonium was painted on the composer's wedding day.
The composer's bedroom. Photographs of Zdenka and Kamila are just
visible on the small bureau in the corner.
The composer's bedroom.