Jan Hus House cherishing music of Czecho-Slovakia for its people here

Jan House cherishing music of Czecho-Slovakia for its people here

Newspaper clipping appearing in The music of Bohemia.


Under Mr. and Mrs. Francis Pangrac, Neighborhood House Is Keeping Alive the Native Songs—A Concert by the East Side Students—Stevo Stovanovic and Mme. Wetche Also Among the Workers

WE came upon the Jan Hus House suddenly. It loomed big, stately and permanent in a swirling picture of children, babies, old mothers, young mothers, push carts and fruit stands. One treaded one's way slowly on the street and on the road, stepping over the skipping ropes and watching for the alleys and tops, and at the same time dodging the flying balls. It was a grand babel of noise, color and motion.

Then out of the darkness loomed the big walls of this Czecho-Slovak Neighborhood House, a fit monument of the nation's pride and hope for her children in this other land—America. One felt the atmosphere at once in the quaint hall, with its huge fire place, and in the simple lines of the peasant chairs and tables sometimes touched with gay color.

Coming to the East Side this night as a willing martyr—a martyr who would listen to ambitious East Side music taught by semi-volunteers to semi-willing students at intermittent periods, we had expected some cheap, snappy music intermingled with some badly mangled good music. We heard neither. While we listened to the violin quartets, the piano solos and the vocal sextets, our mind unconsciously forgot that this was a recital on the East Side for here first-class teaching methods and accepted musical standards certainly prevailed.

Photo by Miskin. Francis Pangrac, Bohemian Singer, and Head of the Jan Hus House Music Work

Photo by Mishkin

Francis Pangrac, Bohemian Singer, and Head of The Jan Hus House Music Work

This music work is under Mr. and Mrs. Francis Pangrac both graduates of the Conservatory of Prague, and has taken definite classical form. The artistry demanded and attained from even young children provokes wonder and admiration. Mr. Pangrac, who has already given the music of the Czecho-Slovak race to the music lovers of America through his Victor records, is perhaps as successful a teacher as a singer. He brings to his work such a warmth, such a definite training, such a system, that success could not fail him, especially in this House where he had such a wealth of material on which to expend his powers.

Rarely have we heard anything more delightful than the voice of Arthur Jedlicka in a selection from the Bohemian opera, "The Bartered Bride," by Smetana. The voice has a witching timbre, clear and round, and the young singer, interpreted the rollicking yet tender music with consummate art. We found it impossible to realize that this broken voice only two years ago. An octet of male voices in two groups of national songs demonstrated by crisp phrasing, round tones and clear enunciation that Mr. Pangrac has proved himself worthy of being regarded to-day as the chief exponent of Czecho-Slovak folk songs, although he is better known abroad as a concert and operatic baritone. Three or four other promising voices made their debut in this recital—Augusta Kupec, Caroline Kozlik and Tilly Ludra. The second singer, with a heavy dramatic voice made a definite contrast with the first, whose voice is that of a light coloraturist's while the third voice, an unusual contralto, showed much latent power and intelligent study.

The work of Stevo Stojanovic's pupils showed painstaking scholarly teaching both of violin and piano. Mr. Stojanovic, a Serb, is a graduate of Prague and a pupil of Sevcik. He is a violinist well known in Europe and was driven from his country by the war. He is an ardent patriot, having served two years in the front line trenches in Servia. Mr. Stojanovic faithfully upholds the Old-World standards in his art, and co-operates whole-heartedly with Mr. Pangrac in his efforts to establish a first-class violin school, in the manner of the great Sevcik.

The gem of the evening was clearly the national anthem "Kde Domov Muj ("O Home Land Mine"), sang by a sextet of young girls who made a profound impression this past season at the Festival of Liberty when they give without accompaniment a Bohemian Chorale written in the Czech tongue in the ninth century, adding also a cycle of five folk songs both harmonized and conducted by Anna Fuka Pangrac. In this second effort Mme. Pangrac has achieved something of unusual appeal; the voices pour out like one great round voice, delicately shaded and richly colored; the tragedy of Bohemia throbs through the music. Mme. Pangrac is a pianist composer, a singer, but above all an organist. She was the first woman in Bohemia to take up the organ as a concert instrument, and when she presently appears in this role we believe that her American audiences will count her among the fine organists of the day. Mme. Pangrac brings to this work the attitude of her historic university, where she was established till the war forced her into exile in America. She is an uncompromising adherent of classical standards, whether she works in the Conservatoire of Prague or in the East Side Neighborhood House of Czecho Slovakia.

Nor are these all the opportunities offered by the Neighborhood House in musical education. Mme. Vojackova Wetche, a pianist of prominence, and also a graduate of the Conservatoire of Prague and well known as the accompanist of Sevcik, accentuates the classical atmosphere of the House by adding a touch of the national traits of Bohemia, a joyousness, a bubbling enthusiasm, a hearted sympathy. To teach here takes time from her crowded career as a pianist, teacher and one of the famous Czecho-Slovak trio (of which Mr. Pangrac is also a member). She is an exponent of the Effa Ellis Perfield School of Pedagogy sometimes called the New Thought, Theory, Harmony and Composition.

With these workers the Jan Hus House is making Americans and musicians of the little Czecho-Slovak children of the East Side.

M. B. S.