Meet Mr Janáček

The composer's life and work in three animations

Learn about Janáček's life and works in this delightful animation mini-series. Produced by Tourist Information Centre Brno with financial support from the city of Brno, it is designed for children but will delight adults, too!

Birth and education

Part 1 illustrates Janáček's birth, his arrival in Brno and his student days.

Janáček was born in the village of Hukvaldy in 1854. When he was 11 years old he enrolled as a ward of the foundation of the Augustinian Monastery in Brno, where the scientist Johann Gregor Mendel and the composer Pavel Křížkovský were friars. Janáček's father wanted his son to follow the family tradition of becoming a teacher but with such obvious musical abilities he instead moved to Prague to study at the city's Organ School. He continues his training abroad, first in Leipzig in 1879, then in Vienna in 1880. The young composer moved back to Brno and married Zdenka Schulzová at the age of 27.

Artist: Vendula Chalánková
Animator: Tomoko Lisá
Director: David Lisý

How hard he worked

Part 2 illustrates Janáček's intensive work in Brno, his study of speech melodies and the genesis of his opera Jenůfa.

Early in his career Janáček taught at a Teachers' Institute and was choirmaster and conductor of the Brno Beseda Society. In 1881 he was appointed director of the Organ School in Prague and later founded and edit the Musical Letters Journal. Janáček became fascinated with folk music and speech patterns. He studied these and used them in his compositions. He worked for years on his opera Jenůfa, which was rejected by the National Theatre Prague before receiving its premiere at the National Theatre Brno in 1904.

Artist: Vendula Chalánková
Animators: Oksana Rogožina and Jan Smrčka
Director: Oksana Rogožina

How he became famous

Part 3 illustrates the last ten years of Janáček's life, when he wrote his major works that are famous across the world today.

Twelve years after the world premiere of Jenůfa in Brno, it was finally performed at the National Theatre Prague. Its success there took it to the Vienna Court Opera in 1918 and the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1924. Janáček began to dedicate his time to writing opera. Káťa Kabanová, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Makropulos Affair all received their world premieres at the National Theatre Brno within five years. In 1925 he became the first person to be awarded an honorary doctorate from Masaryk University. Janáček died in 1928 having nearly finished his final opera, From the House of the Dead. Today he is the most frequently performed Czech opera composer in the world.

Artist: Vendula Chalánková
Animators: Jan Smrčka and Oksana Rogožina
Director: Oksana Rogožina