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in Jindřichův Hradec offers spectacular view at many historical buildings, such as Langr house, Hotel Concertino or the old town hall. The dominant feature of the square is 20 meters high scultpural group of The Holy Trinity.

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Gallery of Famous People

A number of famous people from Czech history, culture, politics and science have lived and worked in the Jindřichův Hradec region over the centuries. Among them were, first of all, members of the ruling Hradec families, whether they were the lords of Hradec, the Slavata or Černín family, who achieved very honourable positions in the social and political hierarchy of the Czech Kingdom; and close ties with the representatives of the Austrian Monarchy brought a number of Czech kings and Roman Empire emperors to Jindřichův Hradec. These included Ferdinand I, Leopold I (he was raised by Jáchym Oldřich Slavata’s wife), Josef I, Karel IV, Marie Terezie, and Josef II (it is said that in 1765 he was not recognised in house no. 133/III and was served milk). The town was visited by both presidents of the first Czechoslovak Republic: T. G. Masaryk and E. Beneš. Many prominent people from the cultural realm are also connected with the town’s history. For example, V. Michna of Otradovice, a Baroque composer; and Tomáš of Štítný (around 1333 – 1409), one of Huss’ predecessors, attended the school at the Minorite Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Jindřichův Hradec sometime in the 1340’s. The work of this amateur religious thinker represented the peak of Czech religious prose of the 14th century. J. K. Tyl was a guest in Jindřichův Hradec, the Čapek brothers worked here, the music composer Liszt spent a night here and so did K. H. Borovský on his way to Brixen.

A decisive role in the development of the region’s education and cultural life was played by the Society of Jesus’ college in Jindřichův Hradec in the 17th and 18th century. A number of prominent teachers worked at the Jesuit grammar school, the most famous being Bohuslav Balbín (1621-1688), a well-known historian, the author of an encyclopaedia about the Czech Kingdom’s national history and geography and a Czech patriot, whose Defence of the Slavic Language, especially Czech, later became a stepping stone for the Czech national revival movement.

Of the many other teachers who worked at the Jesuit grammar school in Jindřichův Hradec, Matěj Václav Šteyer (1630-1692) is also well known; he co-operated on the translation of the St. Wenceslaus Bible and initiated the establishment of the St. Wenceslaus Heritage, which issued Czech books. However, he became famous as the author of the most significant Baroque collection of Czech Catholic spiritual songs, the Czech Hymnbook (also called the St. Wenceslaus Hymnbook). 
One of the students of the Jesuit College, later a prominent member of the Czech Literary Brotherhood, was the organist, song and music teacher, poet and especially music composer Adam Václav Michna of Otradovice. This Jindřichův Hradec burgher, a taproom owner, became famous as the author of almost two hundred songs, most of which he published in the collections Czech Marian Music (1647), Czech Lute (1653) and Holy Year Music (1661), which represent the high quality of Czech Baroque spiritual songs and are a distinctive expression of advanced burgher culture in the 17th century.

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, a prolific and in his time the most respected music composer (over 40 operas, several oratorios, masses and cantatas, over 120 symphonies, several dozen smaller concertos, serenades and chamber compositions) and founder of the German comic opera, spent his declining years at the Červená Lhota Palace and in the nearby Nový dvůr at the very end of the 18th century. He died in 1799 and is buried in the nearby village of Deštná.

The most well-known and also the most prominent Jindřichův Hradec student was the son of the chief brewer of the Černín family, later the founder of Czech opera, Bedřich Smetana. Young Smetana sang at the choir of the parish church and was taught to play the piano by František Ikavec.

The town was rich with respect to music teachers, composers and fine musicians. Apart from the above-mentioned F. Ikavec, Jan Evangelista Kypta, a spiritual and also dance music composer, worked in Jindřichův Hradec, as did František Vacek, a choirmaster, bandmaster and composer, Jan Baumruk, graduate of the Vienna conservatory, Kamil Voborský, student of Antonín Dvořák, composer and choirmaster, and Vilém Pojman, teacher of Vítězslav Novák, another prominent Czech music composer who attended grammar school in Jindřichův Hradec. Martin Kratochvíl, producer of music instruments, especially pianos, also worked in Jindřichův Hradec; he assembled a new type of instrument called the “coelison” (heaven-sound), shaped like a raised pyramidal piano.

An interesting fact from this era is also the episode from December 1851, when Karel Havlíček Borovský, a prominent Czech journalist, satirist and also politician, whom Jindřichův Hradec citizens had chosen as their candidate for Parliament in 1848, spent a night in the Jindřichův Hradec hotel “U zlaté husy” (At the Golden Goose) on his involuntary journey into exile in Brixen. Havlíček was accompanied on this journey, which he described with humour in his Lament from Tirol, by commissioner Deder, a Jindřichův Hradec native serving the Austrian police.

A number of important politicians also worked in the Jindřichův Hradec region at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Of these, especially Jan Slavík, a Jindřichův Hradec attorney and native of the nearby Nový Etynk (Nová Včelnice) stands out; he submitted the first bill on general voting rights in the Austrian parliament as a member of the Imperial Council; other prominent politicians were Antonín Rezek, a Jindřichův Hradec native, who was appointed minister in the Austro-Hungarian government, and František Staněk from Strmilov, who was head of the Czech Club of the Imperial Council and after the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia became a minister in several governments. Franz Ferdinad d’Este, successor to the Austrian throne, was also closely tied to the region; he owned the palace and domain in Chlum u Třeboně, from which he set out on his fateful journey to Sarajevo in 1914. Josef Zítek started his career as an architect in Jindřichův Hradec; in the 1860’s he worked for the Černín family and implemented his first project here – the beauty spot restaurant Rudolfov, where Karel Čapek wrote his novel Krakatit 60 years later. Antonín Chittussi chose the surrounding countryside as inspiration for his paintings and Hanuš Schwaiger, a painter, graphic artist and teacher was born right in Jindřichův Hradec. The founder of Czech reportorial photography, Karel Hájek, was born in nearby Lásenice in 1900, and the famous Prague photographer Jan F. Langhans started his career in Jindřichův Hradec. Of artists associated with south-east Bohemia, the most successful was Ema Destinová, a famous Czech opera singer. This prima donna of the Royal Court Opera in Berlin, Royal Opera in London, New York Metropolitan Opera and also an honorary member of the Prague National Theatre, chose the palace in Stráž nad Nežárkou as her home, where she lived from 1914 until her death in 1930. Her personality and artistic heritage is remembered through an exhibition in the Museum of Jindřichův Hradec.

11.4.2011 15:00:56 - updated 13.10.2014 11:48:59 | read 23405x | Vladislav Sochna

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