Eva Pilarová

* 1939  †︎ 2020

  • “I didn’t enjoy the school for long because I was to fill in a questionnaire about my parents’ jobs and I put in: a tailor and a seamstress. I was accused of lying since my father was a self-employed person and that I should have put it down properly. I was supported by professor Válek who said, ‘No, this one stays here, she is good’. I was good so I stayed. But anyway it didn’t last long. I had a different idea about singing and I rather went for a kind of singing which was naturally. And when professor Vardová, who was a fantastic lady, told me, ‘Miss Bojanovská, you must do it in a natural way’ and she demonstrated it for me — I hope you don’t get scared (she demonstrates opera singing — editor’s note), I knew this was not my way. For me something quite different is natural (she sings in her natural voice — editor’s note). This is natural for me. I didn’t like opera. Sometimes I do it just for fun.”

  • “We were summoned by Dr Hrabal, the director of Pragokoncert agency and he told us we had to sign the so-called Anticharter. I told him I hadn’t read the Charter so I didn’t know what I should be speaking against. Charter was allegedly not available. I didn’t know what was in it. Still, we were asked to comment. I argued that I could not comment since I didn’t know what was in it. He was sometimes polite, sometimes rude. This time he didn’t control himself. He said, ‘You read the complete statement and everybody signs it.’ I know there was Ladislav Štaidl, who had something written down. Who wrote it for him, I don’t know. Karel Gott didn’t write it for himself, so much I know. So I read what they told me to read and what everybody signed then. This is something I am deeply ashamed of and I apologise for it. This was the first time I commented upon it. The second time was when a document was shot about it and I just couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when some claimed they thought they were signing a presence list. Such a nonsense. You sign a presence list when you arrive somewhere and this was signed when they were leaving, after we had read the rubbish. Still there are people even today who will tell you that they didn’t know what they were signing.”

  • “It was 1948 and the machines, clothes and shop of my father and his colleague were seized by the communists. The shop was located in an apartment house and a beautiful five room flat could be made there. So they lost it. What is interesting is that they found a little room nearby and managed to live — without employees, of course — to continue as self-employed persons until 1953. Then they were prescribed such high taxes that they gave up. It was no longer possible to cope. My father then worked in Boskovice for a company which produced uniforms. He oversaw the production, so he in fact stayed in the business. Unofficially, he made clothes for his friends.”

  • “I remember I had a problem over the crucifix I wore at my neck. We went to the Soviet Union and no one said anything. I went through almost the whole tour with my necklace. Then we came to Sochi and there were Czech tourists who peached on me. I was summoned by the Minister of Culture, Klusák. He was quite a sensible man so eventually the matter was settled.”

  • “My aunt was ordered to accommodate a Soviet female soldier, we called her baryshna. And she sang nicely and she taught me a song. Only after years I found out that this was the Russian anthem. And in a way this anthem saved my mother. Our neighbour was caught by the Russian soldiers and raped. They came into the cellar where we were hiding, they took away my father’s clock, everything and then they went over to my mother. I wasn’t six yet but in my child’s head I realized the soldier was speaking in the same language as that song I was taught to sing. So I stood in front of him and started singing “Soyuz nerushymiy”. He started crying, took me in his arms, walked around the yard with me and no one was hurt anymore. It is true though that when we fled to Vrbice, the birthplace of my mother, I saw the first dead, helmets of soldiers shot through.”

  • “There was just text censorship. Whenever they didn’t like something, they objected. I had, for instance, a beautiful song by Karel Svoboda called ‘Caruso is signing an aria for me’. The second stanza went ‘I am a wandering girl, oh how boring it is to live’… What? A wandering girl in socialism? What boredom? They forbade me to sing the song and I couldn’t sign it. Then they forbade me to sing a song with which I won three festivals. ‘I can hear a requiem, a requiem all over the world, the wings of shade destroy this land, the world will walk towards its doom’. Everybody said this was against occupation but in fact this was a song from 1967. No one was interested. It was a huge paradox that in Russia, on the contrary, they wanted it. I had to sing it every time when I went there.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha Eye Direct, 09.11.2017

    duration: 02:00:36
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We all knew we were signing Anticharter

in the theatre Semafor
in the theatre Semafor

Eva Pilarová, née Bojanovská, was born on August 9, 1939, in Brno into a Catholic family. Her father was a tailor, mother a seamstress. She witnessed the liberation of Czechoslovakia with her aunt near Brno where she had an unpleasant experience with meeting with the Russian soldiers. She went to school in 1945 in Brno, since the first year she also went to a music school, and then František Lýsek child choir in Brno and the choir at the Catholic church of St Thomas. In 1948 the Communist nationalised her father’s tailoring shop but he somehow managed to keep the business until 1953. Fulfilling the wish of her mother, Eva studied at the economy school where she was accepted, she says, thanks to protection. After graduation she — in secrecy — applied for Academy of Music where she was accepted. She did not finish school, since it was jazz and swing that interested her more than opera, and also she sang for the radio under pseudonym, which was against regulations. In the late 1950s she met her older academy fellow Milan Pilar who persuaded her to join the Semafor theatre. Eva had her first successes, even in the West, from where she received attractive job offers but in 1962, when her son was born, her husband emigrated. Eva was interrogated and pressured to divorce, being threatened that she would lose her passport and her career would be ruined. Although she eventually divorces, here passport was not returned until after 1989. It didn’t help that even her second partner emigrated in the early 1970s, although she had already divorced him by that time. In 1973 she had to deal with the death of six members of her band who died in an aircrash. With her new band she had about 300 concerts a year in the 1970s and 1980s, they travelled through the whole Eastern bloc, including the most remote regions of the Soviet Union. In 1977 she signed Anticharter and later was one of the few to admit it and extend an apology. In 1984 she married — after a long acquaintance — Jan Kolomazník, with whom she has lived since then.