Czech Republic Literature and Music


According to, the beginning of Czech culture coincides with the conversion of Czech and Slovak societies to Christianity (863). In the earliest poetic production there are numerous hymns, including Hospodine, pomiluj ny (“Lord, have mercy on us”), Svatý Václave (“O St. Wenceslas”). At the beginning of the fourteenth century the poem Alexandreis stands out , adapted from the Latin poem by Walter of Châtillon; the rhymed chronicle of Dalimil ; the farce Mastičkář (“The ointment”). Czech literature then reached a notable maturity in the time of Charles IV. The mystical poem Legend of St. Catherine belongs to this period, as well as the Hradecký Rukopis (“Hradec Králové manuscript”) containing moral precepts, satire on trades and a colorful fable about the fox and the jug.

  • At the end of the fourteenth century the allegorical poem Nová Rada (“The new Council”) by S. Flaška z Pardubic was written; the Tkadleček dialogue (“Little Weaver”) and the didactic and religious works of T. Štítný. With this author and with the theologians M. z Janova and J. Milíč the religious fervor that will lead to the reform of J. Hus begins in Bohemia. He wrote numerous sermons, theological treatises, philosophical discourses in Latin and Czech and influenced with his personality the whole course of the Czech literature of the fifteenth century. P. Chelčický is linked to his teaching, which fought any form of political or ecclesiastical organization, advocating a return to evangelical simplicity.
  • In the time of Ferdinand I and Maximilian II, among Catholic writers was V. Hájek z Libočan, author of a chronicle full of fantastic episodes that appealed to the romantics; and among the Bohemian brothers J. Blahoslav, who wrote religious songs, a Czech grammar and translated the New Testament. In the seventeenth century the figure of JA Komenský (Comenius) emerges, a Protestant philosopher, pedagogue and theologian and also a brilliant writer; there was also a rich Baroque production of hagiographies, legends, religious songs and lyric poems. In the eighteenth century the Czech language went into decline until it became an instrument only for the rural people and the oppressed classes. The rebirth was marked at the end of the century by the work of J. Dobrovský, with his historical-philological studies, by J. Jungmann, translator of Milton and Chateaubriand, and by F. Palacký, who wrote the first modern history of the Czech people, from its origins to 1526. In the field of poetry, the The greatest exponent of romanticism is KH Mácha, author of the poem Máj (“May”), the starting point of all modern Czech poetry. The romantic theater was at the beginning under the influence of the Viennese one: however, the figures of V. Klicpera and JK Tyl stand out.
  • The first great modern prose writer is B. Němcová, author of Babička (“The grandmother”), a memoir, and of several collections of Czech and Slovak fairy tales. In the mid-nineteenth century the poets V. Hálek, J. Neruda and S. Čech prevailed, advocating a political and pugnacious poem and whose name is also linked to the satirical stories of Mr. Brouček. The late 19th century novel takes place in the historical field with V. Beneš-Trebizský, A. Jirásek and Z. Winter, and in the social field with A. Šmilovský, K. Klostermann, K. Rais and J. Holeček.


The first musical testimonies in the Bohemian and Moravian area date back to the 11th century. and to the liturgical sphere. Starting from the 15th century. further impetus came with the Hussite movement, which developed a production of hymns in the Czech language based on popular melodies. The presence at the Bohemian court in the 13th century was also important. of some Minnesänger, which contributed to the spread of secular music in the German language. During the Renaissance the major musical center was the imperial chapel founded in Prague by Rudolf II, where there were musicians of different nationalities, who imported the style of sacred and profane sixteenth-century polyphony to Bohemia. In the 17th century. and in the first half of the 18th century, Jesuit colleges became the main centers for the musical education of young people and this helped to create a repertoire of Czech sacred and devotional music (JD Zelenka, BM Černohorský and FX Brixi). While Prague became the most advanced center of Austrian musical culture of the eighteenth century, many Czech musicians emigrated to German, Austrian and Italian centers (JV Stamitz, FX Richter, JA Benda, J. Mysliveček, JL Dussek, FA Miča). Starting from the middle of the 19th century., Czech music was characterized by the recovery of forms and stylistic features of the native folkloric song. Protagonists of this rebirth were B. Smetana and A. Dvořak, who found their continuation ideals in O. Ostrčil, founder of a thriving musical school, and L. Janáček, to whom we owe the creation of a national musical theater. Among the major exponents of the 20th century A. Hába and B. Martinů, but also some German-speaking composers active in Prague between the wars, such as FF Finke and J. Ulmann. After the Second World War the Czechoslovakian composers (J. Seidel, EF Burian, J. Kapr etc.) adhered to the canons of socialist realism; however, a new interest developed for the European avant-gardes (P. Kotík, L. Dadak, M. Momorous, M. Bachorek).

Czech Republic Music

About the author