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Ars Rediviva - Milan Munclinger

J.S.Bach: The Musical Offering, Canon a 2 Quaerendo invenietis. Instrumentation Milan Munclinger. Ars Rediviva soloists: J.Motlík viola, F.Sláma cello. Ars Rediviva concert in the Rudolfinum, 1960s

Munclinger on Bach's The Art of Fugue (BWV 1080). Ars Rediviva subscription concerts in the Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall (Prague), 1970s

J.S.Bach: The Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus 8. Instrumentation and music editor Milan Munclinger. Ars Rediviva soloists: J.Mihule oboe, F.Kimel alto oboe, F.Herman bassoon, J.Kroft violin, K.Špelina viola, F.Sláma cello, F.Pošta violone

František Sláma on Otto Peter. Dedicated to the memory of the Swiss singer and composer↗

In rehearsal with Otto Peter during the 1970s (J.S.Bach: Amore traditore BWV 203, Aria Chi in amore ha nemica la sorte). Soloist: Otto Peter. Josef Hála cembalo obbligato, František Sláma cello

Ars Rediviva subscription cycle in the Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall, the 1970/1971 season:  J.S.Bach and His Czech Contemporaries. František (Franz) Benda. -  M.Munclinger flute, J.Hála harpsichord, F.Sláma cello

Ars Rediviva subscription cycle in the Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall, the 1970/1971 season: J.S.Bach and His Czech Contemporaries. Jiří Antonín (Georg) Benda. - M.Munclinger flute, P.Verner oboe, J.Hála harpsichord, F.Sláma cello

I would particularly like to thank Mr Svatopluk Novák  for his live recordings of Ars Rediviva concerts in the Rudolfinum.

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

František Sláma on conductor Antonio Pedrotti and the Czech Philharmonic↗

František Sláma on conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky↗

František Sláma on the Czech Philharmonic world tour in 1959 (Part 1)↗

František Sláma on the Czech Philharmonic world tour in 1959 (Part 2)↗


František Sláma on his grandfather, road mender and brass-band trumpeter in Herálec↗

Václav Talich - The Czech Chamber Orchestra

František Sláma on Václav Talich. Part 2↗

František Sláma on the Czech Chamber Orchestra. Part 2↗

František Sláma on a Czech Chamber Orchestra concert at the Prague Spring festival, on Václav Talich and his friend Evgeny Mravinsky.mp3↗

Karel Pravoslav Sádlo

Karel Pravoslav Sádlo on František Sláma↗

(From a Czechoslovak Radio broadcast. English transcription Karolina Vočadlo Hughes)

My most wonderful memories are associated with František Sláma. I was teaching an architect by the name of Libra, a keen amateur musician who, while travelling around in the holidays, came across a young lad somewhere near Hlinsko. At the time this lad was earning his keep chopping up and digging out tree stumps in the forest and packing down sleepers on the railway line. You couldn't imagine a worse occupation for a youngster with such a talent for music; he should have been perfecting his skills on some musical instrument. This was one hard-working lad.

And this architect, who had heard him play the trombone, the guitar and the organ and I don't know what else, all those typical things an amateur does, said to him: Tell you what, lad, let's try you out, I'll take you to Prague with me and we'll see what happens.

He brought the boy to Prague and asked this violinist he knew to take him on and, after the latter had been teaching him for about two months, Libra asked me if I thought he could do the entrance exam for the Conservatoire. And I said: He's a born musician, that he is. And he's got the kind of hearing you rarely come across. However: if, at that age - he was about 17 or so, I can't remember exactly - he tried to work his way towards becoming a professional, he'd never manage it on the violin, because his fellow students would already be ten years ahead of him. With all the best will in the world, he just wouldn't be able to do it. But I said: But he's got an excellent sense of hearing and lips which would be ideal for a mouthpiece; I think he should go for the trombone and, given his talent, he could become a real professional within three years.

But then we ran into difficulty. The boy had seen his uncle playing the cello with me occasionally, we played various things on the cello, and that's when it all went pear-shaped for me. Because young Sláma wanted nothing else but to work his way up to becoming a professional cellist. I tried to discourage him using all possible means, in all languages, I cajoled and made all kinds of threats, but to no avail. So finally I said: Just so you don't tell me later on that I ruined your life, I'll give you a chance; that's the only reason I'm going to do it.

This was 11th November and the good lad went for it in such a way that, whenever I walked past the house where his uncle had a studio, no matter what time it was, František Sláma was up there playing. And so it happened that, some time in June, he went off to do his entrance exam for the Conservatoire; he turned up without any music, played everything from memory and got straight into the second year. That was the reason I consulted my notebook - I had to check for myself that what I was saying was all true. And that's how it was. He went straight into the second year, and carried on from there, and it was wonderful when he graduated, because a delegation from the town of Hlinsko came to the concert and presented him with a lovely painting. You don't see that happening very often at graduation concerts.

He was certainly setting an example for other youngsters: this is how you should work if you want to achieve something in life. And not just in music, but in everything else as well!

František Sláma on his cello teacher Karel Pravoslav Sádlo↗

(Excerpt from a conversation with his daughter Jana, 1996. English transcription Karolina Vočadlo Hughes )

The war was on, there was very little work in the Moravian Highlands. So I was wondering what to do next.

I had been playing the violin from the age of 12 and also the bass flugelhorn in my dad's band; I remember that, despite a school ban, I played in the pub run by the Hanuš family, but only in the afternoon, I wasn't allowed to do it in the evening. That was my first appearance in dad's band.

I once asked my father how I was supposed to practise and what I should play. And he gave his typical response: Play what you want, but just keep on playing. That was his advice as a teacher, and he was absolutely right, I realise now; he was still an amateur musician, but he knew that "practice makes perfect". So I followed this advice to the letter; whenever I had a moment, I was hard at it. And since I was eager to play, on anything, I had this idea in my head: If only I could study at the Conservatoire for a year... But this option wasn't even part of my wildest dreams, it simply wasn't possible, it was just a boy's dream.

Grandma's sister had a son who was an architect - the famous Prague architect František Albert Libra. He used to come to Herálec for his holidays and, on one occasion, he said, half-joking: Play something for me, boys. So we played him a well-known popular piece. And then he came by the next day and said: Would you like to go to Prague? And I said... Well, at first I didn't say anything because I was left speechless, but when he added that I could study music there, of course, I agreed straight away. I wasn't yet 18 years old, it was the summer of 1941.

Two weeks later I got my act together, went off to Prague and didn't go back to Herálec until Christmas...

  • Weren't you homesick?

Oh, it was terrible! I was really homesick. When you come from the Moravian Highlands, from Nine Rocks, to Prague, it's such a big change. But fortunately I was given the task of helping out in the house, so I didn't have time to realise whether I was homesick or not. I just jumped in head first. And then, the very next day, Libra's lodger Goldschmied, an excellent violinist, turned up, and his wife taught the piano, so I started going to her for piano lessons. I had a month or two of this and in the meantime old Sádlo went to the Libras every Sunday: because Libra was a good-paying pupil, Sádlo would come to his apartment. At eight in the morning - this was typical of him. One fine Sunday morning they called me in, and then Sádlo went through a few things with me - he wanted to see if I could sing in tune; he sat at the piano and took me through various key progressions, and I sang a folk song (I can't remember what it was now). Even back then, even though I no longer had a soprano voice, the singing would have given me a chance. So I sang for him and then he said: Well, it's all fine, but he'd be ideal on a wind instrument, it's far too late for the cello, and his hands are too small... I'm sorry.

And then, incredibly, about a week later, Libra said: The professor told me you should go and see him, he said he'd try you out. Old Sádlo was famous for being a man of action (I say "old Sádlo", but he was still young at that time, in his forties). So I went to see him straight away. But he didn't give me any more tests, he just said: Here's your cello. And he gave me some music. Then he asked: Can you read the different clefs? I told him I could read the bass and treble clefs. To which he responded: All right, now you learn the tenor clef. And then he handed me his little pieces of sheet music, just bits of manuscript paper, and there'd be a stave marked "fingerboard exercise", for example. This was a very good method for beginners. First without the bow, then with the bow. My only advantage was that I had to start again because the violin I played before in my father´s band was an entirely different experience. He also had an excellent method for dealing with the right hand, so-called "bow gymnastics"; these were exercises you did without actually playing a note, you just placed your fingers over the fingerboard. Naturally everyone adopts his own way of playing with time, but it was a great method for beginners. He gave me about ten exercises like this to do, and it didn't take very long - by the second or third lesson I was already playing, and we skipped over the exercises he deemed unnecessary.

  • What about that notebook he gave you?

All Sádlo's pupils had one. That's where we wrote down each day how much practice we had done, and from that we'd see how much practice we were doing in total. I'm not the sort to make things up - firstly, it wouldn't be right, and secondly, I knew that he'd know. I even rounded things down: if I did 45 minutes, I wrote down half an hour, because I knew that there were at least fifteen minutes of dithering before I got around to actual playing. And at the weekend, I got up at 6am to do my household chores for the Libras, and when I had finished that, I could practise till 11 at night, maybe even later, but the minimum was six hours a day.

  • So it was the autumn of 1941 when you started going to Sádlo for lessons?

Yes, that's when I started to get to know Křemencova street, right next to the U Fleků pub, on the 4th floor. I would go there on Sundays at seven in the morning - Sádlo was an incredible workaholic. So we made great strides and in the spring he said to me: I think it's time to try the entrance exam for the Conservatoire.

Well, on the one hand, I was really pleased (up until that time I kept thinking he would throw me out or say that we couldn't go on with this). But I was also a bit scared. So I enrolled at the Conservatoire, I did the exam and then I saw on the notice board, where they put the results up, that I had been accepted into the second year. There was obviously a practical reason for this as well, they probably had too many students in the first year, and not enough for the second year, so they resolved the issue in this risky manner, risky for me, that is. Another reason was that I was getting on in years: I had begun at eighteen, if not with music, then with the cello. And children usually start on string instruments at the age of four...

"Zlatý věk francouzských gambistů" ("The Golden Age of French Viol"):

A series about French gambists and Jordi Savall's performances of Marin Marais' Pièces de Viole, written by František Sláma for the Czech Radio 3/Vltava (Český Rozhlas/Vltava), broadcast in 1993

Extract 1↗, Extract 2↗, Extract 3↗, Extract 4↗, Extract 5↗, Extract 6↗, Extract 7↗, Extract 8↗, Extract 9↗, Extract 10↗, Extract 11↗, Extract 12↗, Extract 13↗, Extract 14↗

Extracts from Ars Rediviva's 1992-1993 subscription series in the Smetana Hall, Municipal House in Prague, first concert:

"Handel-Telemann". Georg Philipp Telemann's autobiography in Mattheson's "Grosse General-Bass Schule" (1731), Czech premiere. Czech translation by František Sláma, readed by Dagmar Sedláčková. For more see: Ars Rediviva II

Extract 1↗ - Extract 2↗ - Extract 3↗

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