“What happened was that during the premiere, some journalist was talking to the conductor and asking him questions. And Helmut Franz was so kind to tell him what I had said about the matter as the author. This journalist Koch from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote about it and expressed his amazement that an author from a socialist country can have so bourgeois opinions. And my benefactors from Germany sent me the article by post! I still remember that I was lying in bed with flu, and I opened the newspaper and I got sweat all over my body! I realized that this could turn into a pretty mess. Fortunately our embassy was not yet in Germany at that time, there was only the so-called Military Administration, which had its seat in West Berlin. Who of those guys would have read the culture column? So nothing eventually happened, but their editors – well, they were all leftists, to put it simply.”
“Our parents had already furnished the basement so that people would be even able to sleep there. There was a stove and things like that. In the evening a tank appeared in the bend in the hill. Sunday was still quite calm, but the tank was ominously standing there, and we thus quickly began building a barricade here. The guys built it from tram cars, they brought them from all over and they derailed the tram cars and filled them with pavement blocks. It was nearly impossible to move them. That was the point. On Monday the Germans started shooting at the place, and then they arrived from Benešov, that’s where the SS school was. They were young guys, they came up to Pankrác, and they committed many atrocities there – somewhere in Na Zelené Lišce they threw a grenade into a basement where there were many people inside, and it even killed a pregnant woman there. I was only thirteen, but this is something that I already remember. In Jizerka, they were taking people out of the houses and forcing them to stand in front of their tanks.”
“I don’t remember if I went to work. It was a shock. I did not get into some skirmish, but I remember the shooting. From up here in Doubková Street you could see the projectiles flying over Prague. I don’t know why they used the lightning bullets. They were also shooting at the building next to the hospital in Charles Square, where there was the orthopaedic and the paediatric ward. The building was damaged by the shots. From up here we could see the bullets flying. I was afraid for my wife, because the crazy woman left the kids in our summer house and she hitchhiked from Telč to Prague. And then she went back the same way, because there was no public transportation, not even trains.”
Marek Kopelent was born April 28, 1932 in Prague in the family of lawyer JUDr. František Kopelent. His mother was a French teacher, and Marek and his sister thus attended French kindergarten, elementary school as well as grammar school. Marek’s extraordinary talent for music was discovered when he was a little boy and his parents supported him. At first he studied piano with their family friend JUDr. Kubáně and later he went on to study at the Academy of Performing Arts under professor Řídký. After completing his studies he began working as a music editor in the SNKLHU publishing house in 1955. From the late 1950s he intensely focused on the so-called new music. Together with friends he formed the Prague Society of New Music and in 1961 he was one of the co-founders of the ensemble Musica Viva Pragensis which was actively presenting this music genre to the public. Their musical compositions began to be accepted at international festivals. In 1969 Marek won a one-year scholarship (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) in West Berlin. The situation in Czechoslovakia has radically changed during his absence. The new music was not included among the supported trends in music and its composers faced various restrictions. In 1971 he was fired from the publishing house and he had hard time looking for another job. The ensemble Musica Viva Pragensis became banned. Marek Kopelent was expelled from the Union of Czech Composers and his work was officially not allowed to be performed. Kopelent’s compositions could thus be performed only abroad. In 1976 he got a job as an accompanist in the music school in Radotín, where he worked until 1991. Then he became employed as a professor of composition at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts. In 2012 the president awarded him with the Medal of Merit.