Centrum Bohuslava Martinů

 Music of Exile BBC 1967 2017Policka1Policka3Policka4

“Music of Exile” BBC 1967 / Polička 2017

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Half a century ago, Polička – the birthplace of Bohuslav Martinů – enjoyed a sensational event: in 1966 a crew of the BBC2 TV “moved in” to the town and within several weeks shot here the main part of a document about the life and work of its famous compatriot. At that time only a few people in the UK knew Martinů’s name or his musical work, and that’s why the movie director Anthony Wilkinson and the musical advisor Brian Large decided to present Martinů’s personality to the British TV audience.

The film was shot in the spring of 1966 in Polička and the lovely countryside of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, and even some local people took part in its production.

Later the crew moved to Paris and New York, and the final scenes were shot in Italy and Switzerland.

The TV film called “Music of Exile” was shown for the first time on BBC2 in October 1967, exactly 50 years ago, but for reasons unknown has never been presented in Czechoslovakia. The regime at that time could not have any essential ideological objections against the film which was (as the policy of the BBC usually goes) politically completely neutral and could have helped to promote Czech music in the world. And so “Music of Exile” has nearly sunk into oblivion in this country …

Only last year its existence was brought to attention by a local patriot, Jan Edlman, who as a 21-year old student of English at a Prague University assisted to the British TV crew in making the film in Polička. With the help of the Internet he found contact with the director Anthony Wilkinson who is still active as the Director of the Wimbledon Music Festival (where he promotes the work of Bohuslav Martinů, among others) and asked him for permission to screen the film in Polička within this year’s Martinů Fest. Mr Wilkinson enthusiastically agreed and soon sent a copy of the film on DVD for unrestricted use. Jan Edlman, now a retired translator, started to translate the film’s commentary (co-written by the famous English writer Anthony Burgess, the author of “Clockwork Orange” made into movie by Stanley Kubrick) and in co-operation with museum Polička (consultations regarding quotes from Martinů’s diaries and correspondence and the titles of named compositions) and with the members of the Our Martinů Society prepared a definitive version with Czech subtitles. This version will be shown for the first time in this country in the “Tylův dům” Theatre in Polička on Thursday May 25th 2017 at 7PM. The screening of the one-hour-long film will be followed by a talk with its creators (the director Anthony Wilkinson and his wife have already confirmed their participation, and we hope that the musical advisor Brian Large, who at present directs recordings of operas and other musical works and also conducts orchestras in the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will also take part). Several local people who played in the movie also promised to come and talk about their memories from the making of this unique film of the BBC2 TV about Bohuslav Martinů. The whole event will take place under the auspices of the Town of Polička which also partly sponsors it, and the main organizer is the Our Martinů Society which invites you cordially to this remarkable event.




It seems incredible that more than six months of preparation of the “Music of Exile” event was successfully crowned by the Czech premiere of this film in the Tylův dům Theatre with a nearly two-hour long discussion with its creators and some actors. After the screening of the film, its director, Mr. Anthony Wilkinson, and the musical advisor and famous musicologist Brian Large could not hide their emotions during the standing ovations of hundreds of spectators in the theatre which was literally packed to the roof. The distinguished guests spent three days in Polička and spoke with town representatives, staff of the Centre of Bohuslav Martinů and members of the Our Martinů Society both at official and informal meetings. After 50 years both gentlemen climbed the 198 steps inside the tower of the St. James’ Church in order to relive their memories of the shooting of the film in the Martinů’s birthplace, paid tribute to his genius at his grave in the local cemetery and on a trip with several members of the Society visited some places in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands connected with B. Martinů – like the village of Tři Studně where they tasted spring water from a well called Vitulka, named after Vítězslava Kaprálová, the student and friend of Martinů, who lived there. The last, Saturday morning they spent in Litomyšl where they visited the birthplace of the composer Bedřich Smetana and the Piarist Church. When they were saying good-bye, they repeatedly expressed their gratitude and thanks for the invitation and for the fact that at last the film was shown in the town where Bohuslav Martinů was born and spent his youth.

Here are some quotations illustrating their feelings during their visit to Polička:

“Bohuslav Martinů has been an important part of my life for fifty years and the making of the film here in Polička was a turning point in my career. It has been a great pleasure to re-visit Polička again and to have so many good memories. … Thank you from my heart for asking me back to show Music of Exile which has been shown around the world but until today not to the public here!”

(A. Wilkinson in the Visitor’s Book in the Centre of Bohuslav Martinů)

“A great pleasure to return to Polička after fifty-six years to celebrate the great composer – Bohuslav Martinů and his genius. With renewed thanks for all the kindness and generous hospitality I have known in this wonderful, beautiful town.”

(B. Large in the Visitor’s Book in the Centre of Bohuslav Martinů)

And finally a quotation from an e-mail which Brian Large sent immediately on Saturday after his return to Vienna where he now lives and works:

“Returning to Martinů land after fifty years was not only a beautiful experience but a very emotional home coming and I cannot thank you enough for your welcome and for the chance to meet new friends. … I shall always treasure the memory of the public reaction to the viewing of the Music of Exile film.”








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