LIVING SLOVAK
THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
THE ORGANIZATIONS
WILL YOU SPEAK SLOVAK?
THE UNKNOWN ARTS
SOCIAL NEEDS
COMMUNICATIONS
IS IT TIME TO GO BACK?
IT'S ONLY POLITICS
YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
REMEMBERING THE PAST
THE WIRED COMMUNITY
PROJECTS TO CONSIDER
SPORTS TIMES
A PLACE TO SHOW OUR STUFF
THE STRUGGLING ARTS
COME TOGETHER
WHAT YOU MUST DO
SLOVAK SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!

Slovaks in Canada
in the Year 2000

by John V. Stephens, Q.C.,
Honorary Consul, Slovak Republic


THE UNKNOWN ARTS

I once had a good friend who used to tease me about my support for things Slovak by asking me where was Slovakia's version of a Mozart, a Beethoven or a Verdi.

I would reply we had them but they didn't receive the kind of publicity or airing that the masters she had mentioned received, so that it was not surprising that Slovak artists were unknown.

Bratislava, being on the route from Vienna to other major concert stops in Europe, attracted many world famous artists and it encouraged Slovak musicians. As a result it may surprise you to learn there are more Slovak artists of repute than Canada has ever produced. Yet very few people in the West know about them.

My acquaintanceship with classical music began as a very young boy with my mother taking me to recitals by the then young Slovak violin virtuoso Charles (Karol) Dobias and his sister Gabriela on the piano. Charles today lives in Winnipeg, and looks back on a full life having been concertmaster with such orchestras as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, National Festival at Stratford, and the National Ballet orchestra. My violin never sounded the same as Charlie's.

He too is concerned that in our desire to preserve the culture of Slovakia in Canada we have concentrated on folk music and dances and have left Slovak classical music to drift by itself.

Today Charles is busy setting up a world-class violin competition Sept. 19-21, 1996, in the Slovak Symphony Hall in Bratislava. The winner will get 50,000Sk and a guest spot with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.

Many of you will remember the late Steve Roman, encouraged by his wife Betty, promoted operettas including Modra Ruza, and at sessions of the Slovak World Congress introduced Slovak artists who would sing many beautiful classical and folk songs which were to whet our interest in Slovak music and opera.

As we approach the year 2,000, we must ask ourselves where are our Slovak philanthropists whose duty it is to continue the work of Steve Roman in promoting Slovak classical music on Canadian airwaves?

I am willing to bet that if the works of Eugen Suchon, Jan Ciker and Mikulas Schneider-Trnavsky, for example, are played on Canadian stations, the enjoyment by Canadians would be just as great as listening to the works of accepted masters they always hear.

Once I happened to find recordings of Eugen Suchon's Krutnava (Whirlpool) and Svatopluk. I was impressed with the Shakespearean quality of Svatopluk, and the hypnotic music of tribute to the great pagan god Perun chilled my spine, as did the fervent "Tuzim zit" of Milena who was selected to be sacrificed to the gods.

Krutnava, based on the eternal triangle featuring lust and desire, was a down-to-earth opera reflecting a mountaineering people with a lust for life. I never tire of recommending these recordings to my friends.

I remember in St. Cyril's church hall in the late 40s when members of the parish would put on dramas, one of which featured the pagan king Perun, with costumes made by the enterprising women of the parish. I wonder today whether we will ever see these plays performed again.

The point of all this is, that if you spend any time listening to classical music, why not track down some of this Slovak music at a local music store and listen to it beside your daily dose of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Every Slovak home should have such a collection to teach our young of the beauty of Slovak music.

Our music is beautiful; but it has to be heard in Canada.

Copyright of "Slovaks in Canada in the Year 2000" 1996 - John V. Stephens, Q.C.
All other contents & photographs 1997, Ondro Mihal.
All comments should be forwarded to
Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.
Best viewed by
Nescape 3.0+ and heard* on RealAudio 3.0.
Last update on
May 29, 1997.