Zuzana Eva Miriam Růžičková-Kalabisová

29.06.2017 | 23:21
Zuzana Eva Miriam Růžičková-Kalabisová

This consciousness will never disappear

Czech pianist, harpsichordist and musical pedagogue, a professor Růžičková, full name Mrs. Zuzana Eva Miriam Růžičková-Kalabisová, was born on January 14, 1927 in Pilsen. A family dedicated to the Sokol thought raised their daughter in the spirit of Masaryk tradition. She still remembers the living advice she received from her mother as a child: “When you make lemonade, you must fi rst add sugar and then lemon. If it is the opposite way, you will never finish adding sugar and such is it with life.”
Her father Jaroslav Růžička (1894–1943) and his family was said to have come from southern Bohemia, where their ancestors during the re-catholicization in the Byzantine era instead of forced emigration and forfeiture soils have been converted into Jewish faith. Probably the earliest childhood memory of her father is when he as a former offi cer of the 35th Regiment calmed her down by the sound of the song called.
She was knitting in a fl ower of rosemary and by a slogan “And I‘m not going to march over the border anymore.” In this memory she still feels the last sobs and falling asleep then. Mother Leopolda Růžičková (1896–1983), (maiden name Ledererová), played the piano and her sister left the auspicious career of an opera singer. Zuzana´s grandfather was trained in the grocery store in Tučapy and then he came to Dobříš. Here he met Zuzana´s grandmother who although was from a rich family, lost both parents and her fi ve siblings. None of this prevented her grandfather from marrying Zuzana ´s grandmother and later in Dobříš, he and his friends established gloves workshops that had a great reputation for years. Zuzana‘s mom and aunt worked in the store because they set up a branch offi ce of their father and uncle´s shop. Zuzana was in youth, especially in winter, often sick, with bronchitis and pneumonia. Most of her spare time she spent with cousin Dagmar Růžičková (1927–1945 Bergen-Belsen), with whom they were born in the same month, dressed in the same way, as twins. With their governors they went to the park at Bory. While the governors were knitting, the girls were running through the beautiful valley of the Czech Republic. They spent holidays with their parents in a summer apartment in Šumava, South Bohemia, Mariánské Lázně and Krkonoše. Zuzana also likes to remember her grandmother, Pavla Růžičková, a chairwoman of the Pilsen Association of Czech Ladies and Girls. She fi rst visited the Pilsen musical event and several theater or opera performances with her grandmother. Because her parents often worked until evening, one principle was in the family, which was the fact that evenings would belong to Zuzana only. Although the evenings were short, they were beautiful, her father was reading fairy tales or Homer‘s Iliad and Odyssey. Perhaps because she was fl ippant, she often heard the following quotation: “What words, baby, did you let go over the teeth?” In short, Zuzana experienced a harmonious childhood with a sense of certainty, without dramatic fl uctuations. It was her great foreign exchange for the years to come.
Even before the war she attended the piano lesson with Mrs. Maria Provazníková-Šašková (1883–1949), always called a mermaid. A great teacher, an excellent chamber musician in the trio with Norbert Kubát and Jan Talich (Václav Talich‘s brother), who fi rst mentioned Wanda Landowská‘s name – a harpsichordist and brought Zuzana into the magic world of Bach‘s music. She came from the famous family of musicians. Her father Alois Provazník (* 9. 1. 1856; † 30. 1. 1938) sang as a boy in the Břevnov monastery. He graduated from organ school, went to Blatná (1881) and in 1887 to Rychnov nad Kněžnou (presumably within the Kolowrat estate). The family lived in No. 211 at the parish, nowadays at Anatol Provazník´s street. Alois taught organ, piano, violin, and brass instruments and brought up a series of great pupils, such as Egon Ledeč (since 1926, the second concert master of the violin section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra) or JUDr. Jan Löwenbach (music writer and librettist of Bohuslav Martinů). He composed a number of songs, masses and founded the Dalibor music ensemble, where Viktor Kalabis‘ mother also sang. Thanks to him, Antonín Dvořák and the Czech Quartet, who had concerts in the square at the Puchwein‘s restaurant, stopped at Rychnov before leaving for America. Alois‘s son Anatol Provazník (* 10. 3. 1887; † 24. 9. 1950) graduated from Piarist gymnasium in Rychnov, graduated from the organ school in Prague in 1907 and 1907–1911 he was an organist at St. Vitus. He then studied radiophony in Berlin and after he returned to Czechoslovak Radio, where he was the head of the music department since 1930. Anatol´s brother Zdeněk (* 1889; † 1967) also graduated from the organ school in Prague, became a pianist of the “Red Seven” and from 1927 to 1951 he was employed in the Czechoslovak Radio Brno.
However, the year 1938 came and ten-year-old children are obliged to try gas masks at school. Zuzana feels that this is the end of her carefree childhood. Will there be war? She‘s running home crying! Shortly thereafter, Dad is wearing an offi cer‘s uniform, and as a volunteer, he manages to defend the border. Munich is coming! The war is averted, but the fate of a small nation in the heart of Europe is sealed. At that time, their relatives from Chicago confi rm that they will guarantee themselves fi nancially for them in America, they are just supposed to get visa. But Daddy does not want to do that. The nation should not be abandoned when it is in trouble. The worst is here. Hitler occupies the republic, attacks Poland, the world enters into war. The family in the Protectorate gradually loses all the rights to normal existence.
Until then, Zuzana did not realize she was someone else. The family was Czech-Jewish, very Sokol oriented, and she went to the Jewish religion without noticing a single hint of antisemitism. She loved all the feasts, ceremonies and processions, went to the synagogue as well as on Christian holidays – no one ever told her they did not belong there. The rise of Nazism was incomprehensible to her. Why do they suddenly look at her diff erently than the others? Why does she have to wear a yellow star? She also has to leave the fi rst year of grammar school for racial reasons; her family is not allowed to enter into ordinary shops, Germans take up the apartment and the father‘s shop. The demeaning yellow star is hindering access to the swimming pool, the woods, the cinema and the theater, and they must not use the transport, and they must not leave the city without the permission of the Gestapo. They have a curfew. At home there is a raid of the Gestapo, paradoxically not because of the Jews, however due to the Sokol family.
The end of 1941 comes and the Nazis show their special sense of torture. “It‘s us, children who have to be transported. Behind one door there is the smell of gas – behind the other door there is an old lady who does not understand why she has to leave her home – everywhere you can hear weeping, lamentation, despair. This experience closed my childhood forever. Zuzana still continues to visit her brave music teacher, but only secretly and with the hidden yellow star on her coat. In January 1942, they last played Dvorak‘s Serenade in A major.
It is here that the family packs its 50 kilos and is about to meet the uncertain future. From the Terezín transport lists we learn that Zuzana enters the Terezín ghetto on 26 January 1942 under the transport number T 348. Her hopes, however, do not disappear in Terezín. It meets a wide range of peers and older people with extraordinary levels of education. Her stay was for her, as well as a close relationship with a soul mate, a boy with whom she wanted to learn Hebrew and Latin. They lived in the hope that war and their capture would not last long. “We took a Latin lesson at one of the most important classical philologists at the University of Vienna, Professor Kestenbaum, for half a day‘s bread allocation.” Zuzana meets artists such as Rafael Schächter, Karel Berman, Karel Ančerl. She sings with Karel Švenek, Verdi Rekviem, The Bartered Bride, Brundibara, she goes to lectures. All of this with a sense of hunger and thoughts about sickness, death, transport to the East.
Before Christmas 1943 it is Zuzana and her mother´s turn (Her father died in May 1943). They leave the ghetto on 18 December 1943 in Auschwitz under the transport number Ds 1164. Three days in a cattle-breed, without food, water, hygiene. Then the Auschwitz ramp, penetrating lights, screaming, the SS with their dogs. All, the old, the young, men, women and children were taken to the Birkenau Satellite Auschwitz camp, later called the family camp of Czech Jews. All the incoming was sent to showers, naked, no longer humans, just carriers of dirty rags and tattooed numbers on their forearms (Zuzana 73289). She does not like to remember the half-year stay at Březinka perhaps only when she and a group of young people played the memory of Nezvalov Manon Lescaut and sang the songs of Voskovec and Werich. On the night of 8th to 9th March 1944, after a halfyear quarantine, the Czechs are coming from September‘s transport to death. Three weeks before the execution they still have to write home how well they are. However, the date on the ticket is shifted to the date after their execution. Zuzka and her mother receive their tickets at the end of May. Does that mean three weeks into the execution? But it is not the end. Happy 2,000 men and women pass through the selection of lagerältest Halbhuber and Dr. Mengele, who send them to the right side and thus to the cleansing work in Hamburg. Everyone on the left, almost 3,000 people, are lost.
Burning Hamburg, where she arrived with her mother in June 1944, is regularly bombed by the Allies. “I may die with others in the air raid,” Zuzana realizes, “but it‘s not the same as a humiliating death by execution.” They work hard, plus hungry and cold. In February 1945, they are sent to dig anti-tank ditches. It does not seem to be any worse. But much more inhuman hell was expected – the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Zuzana and her mother arrived here in February 1945. “This was just about liquidation,” recalls Zuzana,” on the block of 500–700 prisoners, sleeping with their heads in laps. To eat only soup in exchange for the removal of dead bodies. The ubiquitous rats are delivering spotty typhus. “It‘s April 15, 1945, and Zuzana and her mother and other human ruins are on call. Suddenly, Buchenwald Bohemia is heard, who is reporting – the Germans are gone. All food is gone, water does not fl ow. On the third day of the evening, the English came. Only two of them survived the big family. Infected with the spotted typhus, they quarantined at the Military Hospital in Celle, near Bergen-Belsen. They‘re listening to the radio that broadcasts infi nite announcements of the search for survivors. Suddenly they can hear that Marie Provazníková is looking for Mr. Jaroslav Růžička‘ s family and daughter Zuzana. When they were quarantined at the end of August 1945, both returned to Pilsen, but seventeen family members did not return.
Zuzana‘s fi rst steps lead to Mrs. Provazníkova- Šašková. “Her desperate fi rst glance falls on my hands, still mourned by the frosts of last winter. Her eyes get wet, but she‘ll take over again.” “Suzi, you can speak many languages”, she says, speak to the Americans, they need translations, and then graduation and even the university … “But I want to play and I have to play” says Zuzana. When the war was over, she was eighteen, and as she herself said, all her thoughts stuck to the music. From 1945 to 1947, she studied piano at the local music school in Pilsen and continued studying the piano and harpsichord at the AMU in Prague (1947–1951). At the international harpsichord competition in Munich (1956), she won and two years later she began her solo and chamber music concerts. She also studied the harpsichord at Professor Roesgen-Champion in Paris and in 1963 she founded the Prague Chamber Choir with Vaclav Neumann. That same year, she created a permanent duo with Josef Suk, with whom she performed at the most prestigious stages of the whole world for thirty- fi ve years. Since 1951 she was a pedagogue at AMU, where she became a lecturer in 1968 and since 1990 a professor. She was also an external professor at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (1979–84) and she was a master in Prague, Zürich, Stuttgart and Riga. In the years 1979–90 she was a soloist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The documentary Cembalo and Zuzana Růžičková originated in 1983 and the city of Hamburg awarded it the Earth Medal for Art and Science (1994). She received the National Artist Award (1989) and after the Velvet Revolution (1995) recorded for the third time all Bach‘s Tempered Piano with Josef Suk. In 2003, she received the Honorary Merit for the State of Arts from the hands of the President of the Republic. In the same year she was awarded the French title of the Knight of Art and Literature. A year later, her book of memories of Queen Harpsichord is based on the initiative of the music publicist and co-author Marie Kuliyevich. In 2011 she took the Charles IV Award in Aachen and won four times the Paris Grand Prix du Disque Academy Awards, Charles Cros, for outstanding recordings of musical compositions. She has a Supraphon platinum record for 300,000 carriers and has recorded a total of 65 full-length playlists. It belongs to the fi rst lady of the harpsichord. In 2016, the remastered recording of Bach‘s harpsichord work at Warner Music on the 20th CD is still unique.
Music led Zuzana Růžičková to marriage. “I walked down the Rudolfi num corridor and there was a beautiful music outside the door of the small hall. They were songs with the piano, my husband called them the Bird‘s Weddings, because it was written on lyrics of folk songs about diff erent birds. I was so excited that I was waiting in front of this room and I asked who wrote the beautiful music. Of course, I had met my husband before, but I did not know that his music was so beautiful. And it fascinated me all my life. “With her husband Viktor Kalabis (February 27, 1923 – September 28, 2006), the Czech music composer, music editor and musicologist who was totally deployed in the Empire at the end of the war, she enjoyed long and harmonious years. It is interesting that Viktor‘s mother was young and although a Christian, she went to the Rychnov synagogue with his friend Karel Poláček.
Prof. Zuzana Růžičková fell in love with Viktor‘ s birthplace Jindřichův Hradec and she also chose it as her second home. “On October 26, 1998, the city council resolved to appoint honorary citizen of the city, Ms. Prof. Zuzana Růžičková in recognition of her contributions to the interpretation of the works of Czech and world classical musicians, the spread of the glory of Czech music in the world and the repeated expression of friendship with the city. Decree on honorary citizenship was solemnly handed over by the Mayor of the town on the occasion of the 705th anniversary of the fi rst written mention of Jindřichův Hradec on 9th November 1998 at 3:15 pm in the ancient ceremonial hall of the Municipal Offi ce in Jindřichův Hradec. “  

 

Luděk Sládek for the Terezín Memorial


In Pilsen, with her parents before the war, 1929 In Daddy‘s Arms, 1927 With mother on Mother‘s Day, 1932 Photo of Eva in school years With Cousin Dagmara With American doctors in Bergen-Belsen Father Jaroslav Růžička, owner of the toy shop (second from the
right), with his colleagues, around 1925 Husband Viktor Kalabis, Music Composer, Editor and Musician with Viktor Kalabis (left) and conductor Rafael Kubelík,
Switzerland 1994 Queen harpsichord in the early 1960s Obrázek č.11 Obrázek č.12 Obrázek č.13


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