Memoirs (excerpts)
Brno – the first conductor
Estonia – Reval (Tallin today)
Leipzig – Staegemann
Three seasons on Rhine
Hannover – Hamburg
Recordings, Photos


  Karel Burian
12.1.1870 Rousínov by Rakovník – 25.9.1924 Senomaty, his mother country
In the world known as Carl (Karl) Burrianceskydeutsch
My first bandmaster is dead! František Jílek! (František Jílek was a composer and a conductor of the National Theatre, died on 25 January, 1911.) The time has come for me to write “Memoirs”. Somewhat early perhaps, since we are in our best age and the best role is still awaiting us, which we want to accomplish before we retire. On the Czech stage, I would still like to play a part in the Niebelungen’s Ring, the Parsiphal, and the Tristan, which would round off my career just perfectly and certainly more interestingly than any farewell performance…
Such thoughts are nagging in my head when reading the news about Jílek’s death. I undertook my first engagement in Brno together with him and I shall always remember him as a fellow aus der Drangperiode. His performances were altogether exemplary and since his times Brno has not experienced anything similar. The excellent Brno ensemble failed, scattered all over the world and Jílek had to pack up his beloved baton, with which he could sometime conduct in the air at home just for his broken heart.
Dalibor Back then we started with “The Bartered Bride” and “Dalibor” in Brno – these were my first two roles in two consecutive days. Quite a task for a young second-year skinny lawyer whose bones trembled as in “danse macabre” and whose soul was agonized by doubts whether he will ever regret his decision to leave the relatively successful embrace of the university for the undoubtedly treacherous theatrical stage. There was a little voice, thin as its young owner that could not have been “stuffed.” The cotton did its duty and surely weighed more than the thinnest Dalibor ever. However, what was there was the gauntness and excitement, illusion, great aims, stubbornness and these counterbalanced all imperfections. The success followed soon and the seventy golden coins were not to go to waste for an adept lawyer who struggled on private lessons and would run everyday from Ostruhová street to Poříčí for a fiver per month and a glass of coffee per day. How many more years would I have had to study and struggle before I could have achieved the same seventy golden coins as a lawyer? But it could have been ended and if I come to think about it now it was a daring risk that I would not undertake today and one that can be excused by my youth or by the affection towards art embedded in our hearts, which we are not aware of but which we cannot resist.
New York, Februar 15th 1911, photo: K. B. as Dalibor
Literature: Burian K.: Paměti (Smetana, Praha, ročníky 1911 - 1912); Hradčanský J. V.: Komorní pěvec Karel Burian ve svých veršovaných dopisech (Graf. ústav L. Beneše, Český Brod, 193?); Hradčanský J. V.: Komorní pěvec Karel Burian ve svých veršovaných dopisech (Fr. A. Urbánek a synové, Praha, 1933); Burian E. F.: Karel Burian (Praha 1948); Novotný A.: Pěvecký portrét (Supraphon, Praha 1974); Wenig J.: Ema Destinová - Karel Burian (Supraphon, Praha, 1960); Nejedlý Z.: Dějiny opery Národního divadla I.-II. (Praha, 1949); Rektorys A.: Naši operní pěvci, (Praha 1958); Černý J.: Osmý den (Reflex, Praha, 6. 3. 2003)

Realisation: Boris Klepal, translation: Petra Mutlová
Thanks to Miloš Klepal and Alena Švecová.
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design © Boris Klepal, 2002