Centrum Bohuslava Martinů

PRESS REVIEW_ April 3rd, 2018

Last week the royal dowry town of Polička witnessed an extraordinary event connected with its famous native. Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Washington Hynek Kmoníček handed unique letters written by one of the most important Czech composers and classics of music of the 20th century, Bohuslav Martinů (1890 – 1959), into the hands of the Director of The Municipal Museum Polička.

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Bohuslav Martinů knew the organ player and cellist Frank Rybka since 1925. They became close friends in later years when they met in the USA. The set of letters which were received by The Municipal Museum Polička into its collections comes from the years 1941-1959 and tells much about the private life and work of the composer. The son of the addressee Dr. Fr. James Rybka and his siblings decided to donate these letters to The Municipal Museum Polička.

“I fulfil my promise given to the Rybka family on October 28th when they handed over the letters during the festivities of Czech National Day at the Czech Embassy in Washington that I will go to Polička at the nearest possible occasion, that I will not lose the letters and that I will oversee their delivery,” said Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček when he handed the precious collection of manuscripts to Polička Mayor Jaroslav Martinů and Director of The Municipal Museum Polička Mgr. Pavla Juklová. “The letters from 1940s sound as if they were written yesterday. They offer unique insight into Martinů’s private and social life in America. For example, in one of the letters he describes how he was attacked by terrible laziness which prevented him from composing,” said Kmoníček with smile.

“I thank for and appreciate the remarkable gift from the Rybka family, living in America, of a collection of over a hundred letters written by the greatest native of Polička, musical giant Bohuslav Martinů to his friend František Rybka. This unselfish gift will fundamentally expand the unique collection of documents owned by our town which describe and demonstrate the life and work of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century,” said Polička Mayor Jaroslav Martinů about the gift of the letters.

The unique and precious gift will now be dealt with not only by the experts from The Municipal Museum Polička. “First, the letters must be recorded, transcribed and digitalized. We plan their publication later. We hope that they will expose those periods in the composer’s life which have not been sufficiently mapped,“ said the museum musicologist, Docent Monika Holá. She added: “Among other things we have a unique collection of music and non-music autographs in the museum. Due to the fact that Martinů spent more than half of his life abroad and earned his living nearly exclusively by composing, the number of preserved music and non-music autographs, photographs and correspondence is extremely high in comparison with other authors.”

The official handing over of the manuscripts took place on Thursday, March 29th, 2018 in the Music Hall of The Municipal Museum and Gallery Polička and The Centre of Bohuslav Martinů. After the official part of delivering the manuscripts which was covered by a great number of media, Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček visited the exposition The Colourful World of Bohuslav Martinů. Then he climbed steps to the room in the tower of St. James’s Church where the famous Polička native was born. Together with the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Polička he paid homage to the memory of Bohuslav Martinů at his grave in the St. Michael’s graveyard.

The manuscripts will be presented to the public at a thematic talk in The Centre of BM on May 23rd at 6 PM as a part of the Martinů Fest. During the talk you will hear about the general contents of the letters, the circumstances of their origins, but also about the fates of their authors. The originals of the letters will be exhibited and people will have a chance to see them with their own eyes.

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