Srdce Václava Talicha se ztratilo. K problému národní očisty (1. část)
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Václav Talich Has Lost Heart: On the Purging of the Nation (Part I)
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The article is concerned with the cultural-political context of the life and work of great conductor Václav Talich (1883–1961). Talich found himself between artistic freedom and political pressure in the fi rst and second Czechoslovak republics, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and post-war Czechoslovakia. The complicated relationship between Václav Talich and Zdeněk Nejedlý (1878– 1962), forms something like the axis of the author’s interpretation in this, the fi rst part, of his article. From the beginning of the Czechoslovak Republic, in late 1918, to the end of the Second World War, in May 1945, Talich stood at the head of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Nejedlý was an infl uential left-wing professor at Prague University, an historian, and musicologist, and, after 1945, the Communist Minister of Education and, briefl y, Labour. The two men had not always been as distant from each other as one might judge from their confrontation after the Second World War. In the interwar years Talich had not been a proponent of rightwing politics, though he was later reproached for having been so. In the fi rst half of the 1920s he had briefl y been a member of the Social Democratic Party, and amongst his close friends were, for example, clearly left-wing artists like the writer-composer-dramatist-director Emil František Burian and the writer Vítězslav Nezval. On more than one occasion, Nejedlý himself praised Talich’s art in reviews, though he also expressed some reservations, which stemmed from a different aesthetic understanding of music. The two men came into open confrontation in 1935, when Talich became head of the Opera of the National Theatre, whereas Nejedlý and his supporters had been promoting the conductor-composer Otakar Jeremiáš for the job. Nejedlý and Talich may have been closest in the period of Second Republic (the several months from the signing of the Munich Agreement in late 1938 to the Ger- man occupation of mid-March 1939), when they both spoke out in defence of na- tional Czech cultural values. From the summer of 1939 to 1940 Talich was pilloried in the Czech fascist press, and had to face censorship and attacks in the National Theatre as well. The article considers in detail all the problematic things Talich was reproached with after May 1945: his membership in the leadership of two col- laborationist organizations – the Czech Association for Collaboration with the Ger- mans (Český svaz pro spolupráci s Němci) and the Czech anti-Bolshevist League (Česká liga proti bolševismu), as well as his being a member of the committee of the Czech National Council (Národní rada česká); his participation in a 1940 visit to Germany by Czechs working in the arts, and the subsequent meeting with the Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels in the National Theatre, Prague; his speech pledging loyalty to the Reich, given in the Municipal House, Prague, on 12 July 1942, shortly after Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich had been attacked by Allied parachutists; his personal and working relations with the Minister of Education and Public Enlightenment Emanuel Moravec, who was the embodiment of Czech collaboration with the Germans. The author also corrects some claims by journalists and historians about the circumstances of Talich’s arrest on 23 May 1945 and his release from prison about a month later. He asks as well whether Nejedlý’s personal role in the post-war prosecution of Talich was truly clear, as has been presumed by Talich’s biographers.
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