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
I was in Reval (present Talin). I announced in a letter where I lived and that I was waiting for the instructions. It was clear as a blue sky to me that it was my duty to go and see the director to introduce myself, but my pragmatic sense told me it was nonsense. My twenty-two-year old head calculated this way: if you introduce yourself to the director, the nosy man can strike up a god-knows-what conversation, from which there will be no escape and he will find out that your knowledge of German is not only insufficient for a tenor of Reval opera but that it would not even measure up to the knowledge of a Russian “izvoscik,” who is – traditionally – illiterate. Therefore, you will avoid the director until he hears you at the rehearsal because there lies your only redemption – your voice will save you!
Thereupon it was announced that I shall sing Troubadour at the season opening. I was relieved. It was one of my old school parts, although I had no recollection of the lyrics ever since the Brno tournaments and practically it was one of the roles that were sung quite often…
Lohengrin …I came to the rehearsal, bowed down respectfully, told them that my name was Burian, stood at the corner and – began. Whoever would address me, would not get more than “ja ja” or “nein nein” out of me. I was simply giving an impression of an idiot, which would not be openly striking given my occupation of a tenor, or an impression of a loser, which was not surprising under the given circumstances.
…then Lohengrin followed, through which I impressed myself on the Revalese minds for ever and which was described by a reviewer in Revaler Zeitung: “Yesterday the Holy Grail sent one of his youngest heroes to us to fight for virtue of Elsa of Brabancon – he won and thus gained reputation for our theatre…
Before I could sleep it over, there was an offer from the famous Max Staegemann from Leipzig, who wanted to acquire an absolutely nameless and young power for his reputable ensemble. I signed. Reval – Leipzig! That is the tragic of contradiction…
Prag, March 15th 1911, photo: K. B. as Lohengrin
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