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Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education

Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education

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Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education

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2 нояб. 2021 г.


As pointed out in my last two publications, no comprehensive study has been undertaken about the American Learned Men and Women with Czechoslovak roots. The aim of this work is to correct this glaring deficiency, with the focus on immigration from the period of mass migration and beyond, irrespective whether they were born in their European ancestral homes or whether they have descended from them. Whereas in the two mentioned monographs, the emphasis has been on scholars and social and natural scientists; and men and women in medicine, applied sciences and engineering, respectively, the present compendium deals with notable Americans of Czechoslovak ancestry in arts and letters, and in education. With respect to women, although most professional fields were closed to them through much of the nineteenth century, the area of arts and letters was opened to them, as noted earlier and as this compendium authenticates.
2 нояб. 2021 г.

Об авторе

Míla Rechcigl, as he likes to be called, is a versatile person with many talents, a man of science and organization professionally, and Renaissance man by breadth of his knowledge and scholarly interests. Born in Czechoslovakia to a son of the youngest member of the Czechoslovak Parliament, he spent the War years under Nazi occupation and after the Communist’s coup d’état escaped to the West and immigrated to the US. He received training as biochemist at Cornell University and later served as a research biochemist at NIH. Following his additional training he became a science administrator, first at the DHEW and later at US Department of State and AID. Apart from his scientific and science administrative pursuits, he served as an editor of several scientific series and authored more than thirty books and handbooks. Beyond that, he is considered an authority on immigration history, on which subject he had written extensively. He was also one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) and for many years served as its President.

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Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education - Miloslav Rechcigl Jr.


Scholarly Publications:

American Men and Women in Medicine, Applied Sciences and Engineering

American Learned Men and Women with Czechoslovak Roots

Celebrities and Less Famed Americans Married to Women of Bohemian and Czech Ancestry

and their Ancestry

Notable American Women with Czechoslovak Roots

Notable Americans with Slovak Roots

American Jews with Czechoslovak Roots

Czechs Won’t Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America

Beyond the Sea of Beer. History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World

Encyclopedia of Bohemian and Czech-American Biography 3 vols.

Czech It Out. Czech American Biography Sourcebook

Czech American Timetable. Chronology of Milestones in the History of Czechs in America.

Czech American Bibliography. A Comprehensive Listing

Czechmate. From Bohemian Paradise to American Haven. A Personal Memoir

On Behalf of their Homeland: Fifty Years of SVU

Czechs and Slovaks in America

Czech and Slovak American Archival Materials and their Preservation

Czechoslovak American Archivalia 2 vols.

Czech-American Historic Sites, Monuments, and Memorials

US Legislators with Czechoslovak Roots

Educators with Czechoslovak Roots

Deceased Members of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences

Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences Directory: 8 editions

Studies in Czechoslovak History 2 vols.

Czechoslovakia Past and Present 2 vols.

The Czechoslovak Contribution to World Culture

Scientific Monographs:

Nutrition and the World Food Problem

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 1. Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Accessory Growth Factors

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 2 Nutrient Elements and Toxicants

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 3. Nitrogen, Electrolytes, Water and Energy Metabolism

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 4. Physiology of Growth and Nutrition

Man, Food and Nutrition. Strategies and Technol. Measures for Alleviating the World Food Problem

World Food Problem: A Selective Bibliography of Reviews

Food, Nutrition and Health. A Multidisciplinary Treatise

Enzyme Synthesis and Degradation in Mammalian Systems

Microbodies and Related Particles

Handbook Series in Nutrition and Food: 18 vols.

Czech Publications:

Češi se ve svĕtĕ neztratí, natož v Americe

Tam za tím mořem piva aneb Naše Amerika, jak ji málokdo zná

Pro Vlast. Padesát let Společnosti pro vědy a umění

Postavy naší Ameriky


Americans of


Ancestry in

Arts and

Letters and

in Education


SVU Scholar-in-Residence and Past President

Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU)



1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403


Phone: 833-262-8899


2021 Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 10/27/2021

ISBN: 978-1-6655-3892-3 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-6655-4006-3 (e)

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Getty Images are models,

and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Getty Images.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

In affection, to my devoted wife Eva,

loving children Karen and Jack,

adorable grandchildren Kristin, Paul, Lindsey, Kevin and Greg,

dear daughter-in-law Nancy


in memory of our beloved parents





I Visual Art

A. Painters

B. Illustrators

C. Cartoonists & Caricaturists

D. Comic Book Artists

E. Graphic Artists & Designers

F. Etchers & Engravers

G. Bookbinders & Book Artists

H. Industrial Designers

I. Photographers

J. Printmakers & Lithographers

K. Sculptors

L. Craft & Decorative & Folk Artists

M. Pop Visual Artists

N. Costume & Fashion Designers

O. Architects

P. Interior Designers

Q. Kinetic Artists

R. Animators

S. Multi-Genre Visual Artists

T. Visual Activists

U. New Media Artists

V. Art Historians

W. Art Collectors & Art Dealers

X. Visual Art Directors

Y. Typographers & Calligraphers

Z. Installation Artists

ZA. Visual Art Critics

ZB. Mixed Media Artists

II Dramatic Art

A. Actors

1. Stage Actors

2. Screen Actors

B. Dancers & Choreographers

C. Models

D. Beauty Contestants

E. Internet Personalities & YouTube Stars

F. Film & TV Directors & Producers

G. Stage Directors & Producers

H. Cinematographers

I. Film Editors

J. Scenic Designers & Art Directors

K. Talent Agents

L. Drama & Film Critics

M. Performing Arts Educators & Historians

N. Video Artists

O. Drama School Directors

P. Interdisciplinary Artists

III Music

A. Composers

B. Conductors

C. Bandleaders

D. Musicians

1. Pianists & Keyboardists

2. Organists

3. Violinists & Violists

4. Cellists & Contrabassists

5. Guitarists & Mandolin Players

6. Harpists

7. Wind Instrument Players

8. Percussionists

9. Accordion Players

10. Multi-Instrumentalists

E. Classical and Opera Singers

F. Cantors

G. Jazz & Rock & Pop Music Performers

H. Popular Singers & Songwriters

I. Impresarios & Opera Producers

J. Musicologists & Music Historians

K. Music Critics

L. Music Publishers

M. Music Instrument Makers

N. Music Record Producers

O. Music Promoters

P. Music Therapists

Q. Music School Directors

R. Recording & Audio Engineers

IV Creative Writing

A. Novelists and Essayists

1. Czech Language

2. Slovak Language

3. German Language

4. Hungarian Language

5. English Language

B. Biographers

C. Poets

D. Science Fiction Writers

E. Playwrights & Librettists

F. Screenwriters

G. Non-Fiction Authors

H. Comic Book Writers

I. Children’s Authors

J. Bibliographers

K. Editors & Encyclopedists

L. Communication Specialists & Public Speakers

M. Journalists

1. Czech Language

2. Slovak Language

3. German Language

4. Yiddish Language

5. English Language

6. Spanish Language

7. Photojournalists & Video Journalists

N. Radio & TV Journalists & Broadcasters

O. Literary Agents

P. Literary Historians & Critics

V Publishing, Printing, Bookselling, Librarianship

A. Publishers

1. Czech Language

2. Slovak Language

3. German Language

4. English Language

B. Printers

C. Booksellers & Bibliophiles

D. Archivists

E. Librarians & Information Science Specialists

VI Education & Learning

A. Pioneer Teachers

B. Later and Contemporary Teachers

C. School Superintendents & Counselors

D. Education Specialists & Reformers

E. College Deans

F. University Provosts

G. University Chancellors & Presidents

H. Curators & Museum Directors

Abbreviations to Frequent References

Other Abbreviations and Acronyms

Legend for Images on the Cover


Another great reference for Czech and Slovak scholars and everyone interested in continued reading and research on Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education. Dr. Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr. has again provided a wonderful compilation of amazing people with Czechoslovak ancestry. In our global society today it is more important now than ever to connect to our cultural heritage, identity, and to recognize the significant contributions of individuals, past and present, that share our cultural roots and then to share these contributions with the world. We truly are a global society and recognizing the importance of our connections and contributions brings us all together.

The Czech and Slovak Republics are relatively small countries with a combined population of approximately 16 million persons, yet the contributions of Czechoslovaks in the Arts and Letters and Education are amazing. The impacts of these contributions live on and truly contribute to a world society.

Dr. Rechcigl has compiled and organized this wonderful resource in detail addressing all aspects of the visual and dramatic arts, music, creative writing, publishing and related areas (including Librarianship), and education and learning. As one reviews this outstanding resource compendium, amazement comes to the reader as the scope of contributions in all areas identified is far-reaching and truly felt by every person in some way, directly and indirectly, around the world. This reference book is filled with well-known Czechs and Slovaks such as Alfonse Mucha, Andy Warhol, Albín Polášek, Dale Chihuly, Sissy Spacek, Kim Novak, Miloš Forman, Fred Astaire, Gustav Mahler, Antonín Dvořák, Jerome Kern, Renée Fleming, Abraham Flexner, and John Amos Comenius. From this more recognized list, one realizes that their contributions to their ancestors and to the world will be indelibly imprinted forever. This detailed reference then brings the reader to a sense of awe as one learns about less recognized individuals who have truly made their mark on society. Just to note a few examples from this rich collection:

1. Victor Gruen of Moravian ancestry was the architectural pioneer for today’s shopping malls;

2. Will Eisner of Czech ancestry is known as the grandfather of the graphic novel;

3. Koloman Sokol of Slovak ancestry is the father of modern Slovak art;

4. Thelma Votipka of Cleveland with Czech ancestry appeared in more performances at the Metropolitan Opera than any other woman in history;

5. Vojta Náprstek of Prague is considered the father of Czech-American journalism; and

6. James Warhola (Andy Warhol’s nephew) of Slovak-Rusyn ancestry has published many books in major publishing firms like Warner Books and Prentice Hall.

As one carefully reviews this collection of Notable Americans of Czechoslovak Ancestry in Arts and Letters and in Education, one can only pause to reflect that the impact of two small nations resonates throughout the world and in our daily lives. Imagine, if the foundations of education were not laid down by Comenius, if freedom of the press and in journalism were not exemplified by so many Czech and Slovak journalists, and if we had no New World Symphony. I am so incredibly proud of my heritage and hope that through this text we can share a bit more of what our ancestors, past and present, have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the world.

Dr. Cecilia Rokusek

President and CEO

National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library


As pointed out in my last two publications, ¹ ² no comprehensive study has been undertaken about the American Learned Men and Women with Czechoslovak roots. The aim of this work is to correct this glaring deficiency, with the focus on immigration from the period of mass migration and beyond, irrespective whether they were born in their European ancestral homes or whether they have descended from them. Whereas in the two mentioned monographs, the emphasis has been on scholars and social and natural scientists; and men and women in medicine, applied sciences and engineering, respectively, the present compendium deals with notable Americans of Czechoslovak ancestry in arts and letters, and in education. With respect to women, although most professional fields were closed to them through much of the nineteenth century, the area of arts and letters was opened to them, as noted earlier ³ and as this compendium authenticates.

As already illustrated in my earlier works, Czech and Slovak immigrants, including Bohemian Jews, have brought to the New World their talents, their ingenuity, their technical skills, and scientific knowhow, as well as their humanistic and spiritual upbringing, reflecting upon the richness of their culture and traditions, developed throughout centuries in their ancestral home. The area of arts and letters and education is no exception. This accounts for their remarkable success and achievements of these settlers in the New World, transcending through their descendants.

This monograph has been organized into sections by subject areas, i.e., Visual Art; Dramatic Art; Music; Creative Writing: Publishing, Printing, Bookselling, Librarianship; and Education & Learning. Each individual entry is usually accompanied with literature citations, and additional biographical sources for readers who wish to pursue a deeper study. The selection of individuals has been strictly based on geographical vantage, without regards to their native language or ethnical background.

The Prologue provides an illustrative bird’s-eye preview what the book is about, and the caliber of individuals listed.

Some of the entries may surprise you, because their Czech or Slovak ancestry has not been generally known. What is conspicuous, again, is a large percentage of listed individuals being Jewish, which is a reflection of high-level of education and intellect of Bohemian Jews. A prodigious number of accomplished women in this compendium is also astounding, considering that most universities’ doors were not opened to them until the second half of the 20th century.


Below is an illustrative bird’s-eye view of selected personalities in this compendium. Information about some of the pioneers in arts and letters can also be found in several chapters of the author’s comprehensive history of immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World.

Visual Art - As for the arts, Czechs considered it as a recreation or luxury, rather than a means of earning living. Architecture was an exception, because a good architect could make quite a bit of money, whereas the other artists lived in poverty. Nevertheless, it did not take long, and the Czech artists began to appear on the scene.


Among the noted architects, was Leopold Eidlitz (1823-1908), a Prague native, exponent of Gothic revival in architecture who built in that style some of the most beautiful buildings in New York.

James B. Dibelka (1869-1925), b. Bohemia, was an architect of note who designed many large public buildings in Chicago area, including the Univ. of Illinois. During 1913-17, he held the position of the State architect for the State of Illinois. He was recipient of International Medal at San Francisco international exposition.

David Adler (1882-1949), b. Milwaukee, WI, of Bohemian ancestry, was a prolific architect, designing over 200 buildings, who largely practiced around Chicago, Illinois. He was also a long-time Board member of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Antonín Raymond (1888-1976), b. Kladno, Bohemia, was a famed architect who explored traditional Japanese building techniques with the latest American building innovations. He pioneered modern architecture in Orient, resulting in several hundred internationally known buildings, including US Embassy and consular establishments, French Embassy, USSR Embassy, St. Luke’s International Hospital Center, Rising Sun Building, etc.

Dorothy Wormser Coblentz (1894-1988), b. Deming, Luna Co., NM, of Bohemian ancestry, was the first Jewish female architect in the American West. In fact, the first ‘girl’ architect licensed by the state of California.

Victor Gruen (orig. Grünbaum) (1903-1980), b. Vienna, of Moravian ancestry, was an American architect best known as a pioneer in the design of shopping malls in the United States.

Jan Hird Pokorný (1914-2008), b. Brno, Moravia, was Columbia Univ. trained architect. He was the owner, of the firm Jan Hird Pokorny, Architect, NYC (1945 71); partner, Pokorny and Pertz (1971 77). He was with Columbia Univ. School of Architecture (s. 1958), as professor of architecture (1974- 82).

John Jacob Desmond (1922-2008), b. Denver, CO, of Bohemian ancestry on his mother’s side, was an American architect in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who designed such public buildings as the Baton Rouge River Center, the Louisiana State University Student Union, Bluebonnet Swamp Interpretive Center, Louisiana Arts and Sciences Center, Louisiana State Archives, etc.

John Quentin Hejduk (1929-2000), b. New York, NY, of Czech ancestry, an architect trained at Harvard, became Dean of Cooper Union School of Art and architecture, a post he held for 25 years. He was one of the most original architects in the United States, noted for his use of attractive and often difficult-to-construct objects and shapes.


John Beale Bordley (1800-1892), b. Wye Island, MD, desc. f. Augustine Heřman of Prague, a prominent planter and lawyer, distinguished himself as an artist. He was a portraitist in Baltimore. Thirty-two of his portraits were exhibited at the Maryland Historical Soc. in 1954. He painted the large (60x90) portraits of the Signers: Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, and Thomas Stone in the Md. State House.

Catherine Drinker Janvier (1841-1922), a native of Philadelphia, PA, of Moravian ancestry, was a prominent painter and art teacher, who ate the age of 27, was the first women to teach at the Pennsylvania Academy.

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1929), b. Ivančice, Moravia, was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, known best for his distinct style. He came to America in 1905 and taught at Art Inst. of Chicago and New School of Applied Design for Women.

Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929), b. Kamenický Šenov, Bohemia, was an American artist known primarily for his beautiful floral paintings and California landscapes. Spending less time with ceramic painting, Bischoff painted local farms, fishing wharfs, and coastal landscapes. Recognized during his career for use of color and vivid composition, his paintings always displayed reverence for nature.

Charles Demuth (1883-1935), b. Lancaster, PA, of Moravian ancestry, was a notable painter who had major influence on American art by introduction of modern European movements, such as cubism.

Alois Lecoque (orig. Kohout) (1891-1981), b. Prague, Czech., was a painter known for his beautifully colored post-impressionist paintings. His work ranged from still life to harbor life to the city views of Prague. He painted magnificent buildings and waterfronts in Paris. He came to California, first to Laguna Beach and then settled in Los Angles.

Lily Dulany Cushing (1909-1969), b. New York, NY, desc. f. Augustine Heřman of Prague, was an artist whose paintings are exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in many private collections. Lily Cushing was known for still life and landscape paintings.

Jan De Ruth (1922-1991), b. Karlovy Vary, Czech., a Holocaust survivor, enjoyed special popularity as a portraitist and has been one of the best known painters of the nude female in the world. He exhibited at 34 national juried exhibitions, 14 museum solo shows and 51 gallery solo exhibitions. He was the author of Portrait Painting (1964) and Painting the Nude (1968).

Joseph Drapell (1940-), b. Humpolec, Czech., is one of Canada’s most important abstract painters. He developed a technique of applying paint with a broad spreading device attached to a movable support.


Emanuel Václav Nádherný (1866-1945), b. Tusovice, Bohemia, was an illustrator trained at Art Institute of Chicago and Jullian Academy in Paris. His illustrations appeared in Harper’s, Collier’s, The New York Herald, Le Monde Illustre, Zlatá Praha and other publications.

Harrison Fisher (1875-1934), b. Brooklyn, NY, of Bohemian ancestry, was a popular commercial artist and illustrator of the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine from the early 1900’s through 1934. He was known as ‘The Father of a Thousand Girls.’ He became famous in America with his unusual ability of painting the most beautiful women.

Wanda Hazel Gág (1893-1946) of New Ulm, MN, of Bohemian ancestry, was an American artist, author, translator, and illustrator. She is best known for writing and illustrating the children’s book Millions of Cats, which won several awards, the oldest American picture book still in print.

Miroslav Šašek (1916-1980), b. Prague, Czech., was a book illustrator. From 1951-57 he worked for Radio Free Europe before launching his popular book This Is....... series, starting with This is Paris (1959). Then came in succession: This is London (1959), This is Rome (1960), This is New York (1960), This is Edinburgh (1961)........ This is Washington, DC (1969), etc. He received a number of awards, such as New York Times Choice of Best Illustrated Books of the Year 1959 (for his This is London), Year 1960 (for his This is New York).

Will Eisner (1917-2005), b. Brooklyn, NY, of Czech mother, was an innovative and influential illustrator and writer, often referred to as the ‘grandfather of the graphic novel.’

Peter Sis (1949-) b. Brno, Czech., is an artist, book illustrator, author, and film maker. He is the author of nine animated shorts, 55 books, editorial illustrations, designs for posters, book and CD covers, stage designs and murals.

James Warhola (1955-), b. Smock, PA, of Slovak-Rusyn ancestry (Andy Warhol’s nephew), is an illustrator of more than two-dozen children’s picture books, since 1987. Warhola has worked for several major publishing houses, among them Warner Books and Prentice Hall. He serves as a consultant to the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, Slovakia, near the Warhola ancestral village of Miková.


Joseph Keppler (1838-1894), b. Vienna, of Bohemian ancestry, was an American caricaturist and founder of Puck, the first successful humorous weekly in the United States.

Harold Hering Knerr (1882-1949), b. Bryn Mawr, PA, of Moravian ancestry on his mother’s side, was an American comic strip creator who signed his work H. H. Knerr. He was best known as the writer-artist of The Katzenjammer Kids for 35 years. Knerr was extremely prolific, producing more than 1,500 Sunday comic pages between 1901 and 1914 for a half-dozen continuing features in three different Philadelphia newspapers.

Frank V. Martinek (1895-1971), b. Chicago, IL, of Bohemian ancestry, was a cartoonist, a creator of ‘Don Winslow of the Navy’ and ‘Bos’n Hal - Sea Scout,’ newspaper adventure strips (s.1934).

Oscar Berger (1901-1977), a native of Prešov, Slovakia, attained considerable fame, as a caricaturist, who focused on world celebrities, from kings and presidents to movie stars.

Jeffrey Koterba (1961-), b. Omaha, NE, of Czech ancestry, is an American editorial cartoonist based in Omaha, Nebraska. He has been Omaha World Herald’s cartoonist since 1989 and his work is syndicated nationwide to over 400 newspapers by King Features Syndicate. His work regularly appears in many major U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Washington Post and CNN.

Graphic Artists

Vojtĕch Preissig (1873-1944), b. Světec, Bohemia, was a graphic artist, designer, illustrator, and painter. In 1897 he moved to Paris and worked for two years with the Czech Art Nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha. He returned to Prague in 1903 where he founded the periodical Česká grafika (Czech Graphics) and opened his own graphic studio 1905. He moved to the United States in 1910 and worked as an art instructor. Preissig remained in the United States until 1930. He taught at Columbia University and the Art Students League of New York starting in 1912, then moved to Boston by 1916 and taught a course in graphic arts for the Wentworth Institute, becoming the director of the School of Printing and Graphic Arts, until 1926.In the US he was noted for his ‘legionnaires’ recruitment posters.

Hugo Steiner-Prag (1880-1945), b. Prague, Bohemia, was a painter, etcher, and book illustrator. He made his reputation as an illustrator and book designer in Germany where he held professorship in Leipzig. When the Nazis abolished his position, he returned to Prague and established a private school for book arts and graphic design, called the Officina Pragensis. He arrived in the US in June 1941, where he was offered a position as professor at the Division of Graphic Arts at New York University.

Ladislav Sutnar (1897-1976), b. Plzeň, Bohemia, was a graphic artist who is considered one of the great pioneers of the modern period. Sutnar was brought to the United States to design the exhibition for Czechoslovakia at the New York World Fair in 1939. In 1941, he became art director of F.W. Dodge’s Sweet’s Catalog Service from 1941 until 1960 where he led the development of information design along with Knud Lonberg-Holm. He continued his typographic design for advertising and corporations as he was art director for Theatre Arts magazine for ten years. He also created trends in glassware and flatware products. Sutnar was one of the first designers to actively practice in the field of information design.

Koloman Sokol (1902-2003), b. Liptovský Sv. Mikuláš, Slovakia, was one of the most prominent Slovak painters, graphic artists, and illustrators. He was a founder of modern Slovak graphic art. He lived in New York City during the World War II and left for the US again in 1948, when Communists took power in Czechoslovakia. He settled in Bryn Mawr, PA and in the 1990s in Tucson, AC, where he died at the age of 100.

George Sadek (1928-2007), b. Ústí nad Labem, Czech., was trained as a graphic designer. He was with Indiana Univ. (1960-66); as professor of graphic design, Cooper Union, NYC (s. l966), chairman of art dept. (1966-68), Dean, School of Art (s.1968. He was the founder of Cooper Union’s Center for Design and Typography, who transformed graphic design education by having students work on actual projects for nonprofit institutions.

Engravers & Etchers

Rudolph Růžička (1883-1978), b. Bohemia, was a celebrated Czech-American wood engraver, etcher, illustrator, book designer, and topographer. Růžička designed typefaces and wood engraving illustrations for Daniel Berkeley Updike’s Merrymount Press, and was a designer for, and consultant to, the Mergenthaler Linotype Company for fifty years. He designed a number of seals and medals, including the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association.

Jaroslav Brožík (1904-1986), b. Plzeň, Bohemia, was an etcher, lithographer, and painter. He grew up in Illinois and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a recipient of Chicago Society of Artists prize (1932) and Gold Medal from Detroit Institute of Art.


Casper Buberl (1834-1899), a native of Kynšperk and Ohří, was one of the first sculptors of Czech origin in America. He is best known for his Civil War monuments for the terra cotta relief panels on the Garfield Memorial in Cleveland. OH, and for the 1,200-foot -long frieze on the Pension Building in Washington, DC.

Frank L. Jirouch (1878-1970), b. Cleveland, OH, of Bohemian father, was a sculptor known mainly for his work in Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens. Jirouch did as many as 25 of the busts, statues, and commemorative plaques of groups sponsoring the Gardens, the greatest contribution of any single sculptor.

Albin Polášek (1879-1965), from Frenštát, Moravia, was one of the American foremost sculptors of the 20th century. He worked in classical style, using a variety of mediums including stone, bronze, plaster, and wood.

Mario Korbel (1882-1954), b. Osík, Bohemia, was an American sculptor. He worked in bronze, often experimenting with this media, trying new patinas and textures. He often depicted idealized female nudes and worked in the neoclassical style.

Charles Biederman (1906-2004), b. Cleveland, OH, of Bohemian ancestry, was an American Modernist painter, sculptor and theorist who made his mark in New York in the 1930s. Biederman created reliefs consisting of richly colored vertical and horizontal elements.

Jan Zach (1914-1986), b. Slaný, Bohemia, was a sculptor, and professor at University of Oregon. He worked in a variety of media to create sculptures that celebrate courage and freedom in the face of oppression.

Pearl Amsel (1931-), b. Czech., is a sculptor who creates monuments in bronze, embodying both ancient myth and recent experience. Her work is sometimes dedicated to commemorating the memory of the victims of Auschwitz, where Pearl Amsel was sent during the war. Although her sculpture is mostly abstract in form, it effectively conveys the heaviness of the material and the extraordinary strength of beings that employ resistance in order to remain free.

Emilie Beneš Brzezinski (1932-), b. Geneva, Switzerland, of Czech parents, is an American sculptor, who earned a fine arts degree at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Since the 1980s, most of her works have been in wood. Her monumental 1993 work ‘Lintel, ‘constructed from cut cherry trees and then cast in bronze, is in the collection of Grounds for Sculpture, a 35-acre (140,000 m2) sculpture park and museum in New Jersey.

Dale Chihuly (1941-),b. Tacoma, WA, of Slovak descent is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur. His works are considered to possess outstanding artistic merit in the field of blown glass, moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture.

Lea Vivot (orig. Drahomíra Lea Hekelová) (1954-), b. Šumperk-Horní Temenice, Czech., is an internationally-renown sculptor, residing in Ont., Canada. Vivot’s over life-sized bronze sculptures are figurative and often depict families, couples, mothers, children, and other subjects of humanity. Most of her sculptures include benches, which have become her trademark. She is also active in drawing and printmaking.

Jana Štěrbák (1955-), b. Prague, Czech., is a Canadian sculptor, who immigrated in 1968 to Canada with her parents. She is best known for her conceptual sculptures that are made about and in relation to the body. She has used surprising variety of materials in her sculpture, including electrical wire, dressmakers’ measuring tapes, and beefsteak, as well as more common materials such as lead, glass, and bronze.


Alice Schalek (1874-1956), a native of Vienna of Bohemian parents, made a name for herself as Austria’s first female war photographer during World War I and went onto a stunning career as a photojournalist and travel writer. She continued to travel after the War but, in 1939, after being arrested by Gestapo, succeeded in escaping to New York.

Paul Strand (orig. Stransky) (1890-1976), a New Yorker, of Bohemian-Jewish parents, was one of the most important figures in American twentieth-century photography. In the 1930s, he became seriously involved with documentary film and, from the 1940s until the end of his life, he was committed to making photographic books of the highest quality.

Anita Lily Pollitzer (1894-1975), b. Charleston, SC, of Czech ancestry, was an American photographer. Pollitzer may be best known for her friendship with Georgia O’Keeffe whom she met at Columbia University. Pollitzer introduced O’Keeffe to Alfred Stieglitz helping to forge one of the most significant artist relationships in the 20th century.

Fred Fehl (1906-1995), b. Vienna, of Moravian ancestry, was an American photographer of Viennese upbringing. He was the first person in America to make a career of performance photography, for over forty years he covered Broadway as well as dance, opera, and music. His pictures have appeared in the New York Times, major national magazines, and in hundreds of books on theater, dance, and music. Fehl took photographs of over 1,000 Broadway plays.

Ian Stendal (1913-1992), b. Prague, Bohemia, was a famous American photographer, who initially immigrated to Canada, but eventually settled in Los Angeles. Stendal became fascinated by Los Angeles street life and turned his lens toward capturing the vast diversity of life he found in the city. Much of his street photography is marked by a brightness and vitality unusual in that art form and he was one of the few street photographers to embrace Kodachrome film, eschewing the black and white standard to celebrate the vigor and energy of California life.

Jan Lukas (19l5-2006), b. České Budějovice, Bohemia, was a legendary Czech photographer who moved to the US in 1966. His American portfolio consisted of twenty-five albums, not including translated versions, new editions, or his participation in group projects.

Fred Iltis (1923-2008), b. Brno, Czech., an American entomologist, was also an exceptional photographer. Many photos of his vast archive are about the Civil rights movement in the 60s, the student protest against the Vietnam War, the struggle of the Chicano agricultural workers led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, the strikes and boycott of the American fruit companies. In his journeys south of the border, he portrayed the life of the Mexican Indians, particularly in Michoacán. Fred developed and printed his photos using the slow and complicated archival process system, by which the prints can last for many decades.

Sonja Bullaty (1924-2000), b. Prague, a Holocaust survivor, was a photographer noted for lyrical composition and startling use of color and light in a vast body of work created during a five-decade collaboration with her husband, Angelo Lomeo.

Eva Fuka (née Podešvová) (1927-2015) was a Czech-American photographer whose artwork is characterized by surreal and melancholic effects, which she achieved by using her environment to create unreal settings with a dreamlike atmosphere. She ranks among the founding figures of Czech photography who introduced different approaches to the practice.

Sylvia Plachy (1943-), from Budapest, of Bohemian Jewish mother, is a notable American photographer. Plachy’s work has been featured in many New York city magazines and newspapers and she was an influential staff photographer for the Village Voice. Plachy’s first book, Sylvia Plachy’s Unguided Tour, won the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography for best publication in 1991.

Jiří Turek (1965-), b. Prague, Czech., is a celebrated Prague-based photographer. As a reporter he accompanied President Havel all over the world. Since 1998 he has been a freelance photographer and he is becoming one of the most acclaimed portrait photographers of the Czech Republic. From 2002 to 2006 he lived and worked in New York, where he continued with his work for magazines and publicity.

Pop Artists - Andy Warhol (1928-1987), a native of Pittsburgh, PA, of Slovak-Rusyn ancestry, was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His paintings and prints of presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one of the most famous artists in the world.

Dramatic Art - Regarding dramatics arts, just as it was in their native country, the first dramatic artists among the immigrants were amateurs. They were interested not only in entertainment, but they also were concerned about maintaining their mother tongue. This was the reason why they were forming readers’ clubs and amateur drama groups. However, this too was only transitory. As you will find out in the present monograph, the Czech-American women have done extremely well as dramatic artists, both on the stage and on the screen.

Professional Actors

Fanny Janauschek (1830-1904), a native of Prague, Bohemia, established international reputation as a performer of the great tragic roles. Among her best were Lady Macbeth, Media and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Ed Wynn (orig. Isaiah Edwin Leopold) (1886-1966), b. Philadelphia, PA, of Bohemian father, was a popular comedian and actor, noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering show of the 1930s and his later career as a dramatic actor.

Blanche Yurka (1887-1974), of St. Paul, MN, of Czech ancestry, was a Broadway leading lady and film character actress. From a comedy role in "Is Matrimony a Failure,’ she later shifted to tragic roles, including playing Gertrude to John Barrymore’s ‘Hamlet.’

Ernst Deutsch (1890-1969), b. Prague, Bohemia, was worldly acclaimed ‘expressionist style’ actor, seen as successor to Josef Kainz. In 1938 emigrated to the US and had theater performances and recitals in NY (1938-46) and also film work in Hollywood, primarily in anti-Nazi movies.

Fritz Kortner (orig. name Kohn (1892-1970), a native of Vienna, of Slovak father, was a famous stage and film actor of the 1920s avant-garde and theatre director. In 1937, he fled from Nazi Germany to the US, where he found work as a character actor and theatre director.

Walter Slezak (1902-1983), b. Vienna, of Moravian ancestry, was a character actor whose range stretched from the villainous Nazi in Hitchcock’s ‘Lifeboat’ to singing in the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Gypsy Baron.’ He made his Broadway debut in operetta ‘Meet My Sister.’ Other stage roles followed, including ‘My Three Angels’ and ‘Fanny.’ His film roles included ‘This Land is Mine,’ ‘The Fallen Sparrow,’ ‘Till We Meet Again,’ ‘The Spanish Main.’ ‘The Pirate,’ ‘Call me Madam,’ etc.

Paul Newman (1925-2008), a native of Shaker Heights, OH, whose mother came from Humenné, Slovakia, was a screen legend and superstar- one of the most distinguished twentieth-century American actors. He won and was nominated for numerous awards, winning an Oscar in the 1986 film ‘The Color of Money,’ a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many others...

Kim Novak (1933-), born in Chicago, of Czech decent, after winning a beauty contest, was placed under a contract with the intention of creating a new star to replace Rita Hayworth. She was named one of the most popular movie stars in 1956 and as All American favorite in 1961.

Erika Alena Slezak (1946-), a native off Hollywood, CA, was a stage actress in Milwaukee, Houston, Buffalo and Chicago. She has won six Daytime Emmys in the category: Outstanding Leading actress in a Drama Series,’ tying the record for most wins by an actor, as well as the record for most wins for playing one character and by an actress.

Mary Elizabeth ‘Sissy’ Spacek (1949-), of Quitman, TX, of Moravian ancestry, is an Academy-Award-winning American actress and singer. She won the Oscar in 1980 for ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ in which she played country music star Loretta Lynn.

Stage and Screen Directors

Max Reinhardt (1873-1943), a Baden native of Moravian ancestry on his mother’s side, was one of the first theatre directors who attained world recognition as a creative artist. In Europe he founded the famed Salzburg Festival. After the Nazi takeover, he interrupted his theatre career and in 1938 immigrated to the US. He then moved to Hollywood where he conducted a popular theatre workshop.

Miloš Forman (1932-2018) was a Czech-American film director, screenwriter, actor, and educator, who rose to fame in his native Czechoslovakia, before immigrating to the US in 1958.Czechoslovakia. In 1975, he directed ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975), starring Jack Nicholson as a patient in a mental institution. The film received widespread acclaim and was the second in history to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor in Leading Role, and Actress in Leading Role. His film ‘Amadeus,’ based on the life of famed classical musical Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, starring Tom Hulce, and F. Murray Abraham, was both a critical and financial success earning 11 nominations with 8 wins including for Best Picture, and another win for Forman as Best Director. Throughout Forman’s career he won 2 Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, a British Academy Film Award, a César Award, David di Donatello Award, and the Czech Lion.


Augustin Berger (1861-1945), from Boskovice, Bohemia, was a dancer, ballet master and choreographer. During 1923-32, he was in charge of ballet in Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Otokar Bartik (1868-1936), from Prague, Bohemia, was a ballet dancer and choreographer. He was a solo dancer and dancing master choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC for 24 years of service (1908-32).

Maria Ley-Piscator (née Frederike Czada) 1898-1999), a native of Vienna, of Bohemian ancestry, was a dancer and choreographer. She was a co-founder of the Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research. Her students included Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Tony Randall.

Fred Astaire (orig. Frederick Austerlitz) (1899-1987), a native of Omaha, NE, whose parents were from Prague, was an American dancer of stage and motion pictures. He is regarded by many as the greatest popular-music dancer of all time dancers.

Music - In the opinions of many, the greatest contribution of Czechs to America was in the area of music. Czechs have been known for their love of music and the work of their composers belong among the best in the world. Czech immigrants brought their love of music to America. The brass band or a symphony orchestra without Czech musicians in America was unthinkable. This was strikingly seen in many military bands, which led the punsters to say that Czechs gave American Army more musicians than soldiers.

Music Conductors

Arthur Bodanzky (1852-1921), a native of Vienna, of Moravian ancestry, on his mother’s side, once a conducting assistant to Gustav Mahler, was an American conductor at Metropolitan opera, particularly associated with the operas of Wagner. He conducted Enrico Caruso’s last performance at the Metropolitan Opera House on Christmas Eve 1920.

Gustav Mahler (1860-1941), a native of Kalištĕ, Bohemia, an eminent composer, is considered one of the leading conductors of his generation. He held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera. Late in his life he was director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.

Josef Stránský (1872-1936), of Humpolec, Bohemia, was a conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He succeeded Gustav Mahler as the principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic Soc., holding the post from 1911 until 1923. Subsequently he directed the New York State Symphony Orchestra which had been founded for him.

Fritz Stiedry (1883-1936), born in Vienna, of Bohemian ancestry, was a conductor and composer, whose talent was originally noticed by Gustav Mahler who appointed him his assistant at the Vienna Court in 1907. In 1937, Stiedry lfet for the US, where he conducted long-neglected works of Bach, Haydn and Mozart and premiering Schoenberg’s Second Chamber symphony. From 1945 onwards. he returned to opera, conducting the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973), b. Breslau, of Bohemian father, was a noted conductor and composer. He became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and was also engaged as a guest conductor with other orchestras.

George Szell (1897-1970), a native of Budapest, of Slovak mother, was an internationally renowned conductor of Cleveland Orchestra. He is widely considered one of the twentieth century’s greatest conductors.

Franz Allers (1905-1995), from Karlovy Vary, Bohemia, was a prominent conductor who lived in the US since 1945. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1963. He was recipient of Antoinette Perry Awards for ‘My Fair Lady’ (1957) and for Camelot (1961).

Kurt Adler (1907-1977), from Jindřichův Hradec in South Bohemia was a classical music conductor, chorus master and pianist. He was a conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1943 to 1973.

Karel Ančerl (1908-1973), a native of Tučapy, Bohemia, of a prosperous Jewish family, was a conductor of the Toronto Orchestra. He was renowned especially for his performances of contemporary music and for his interpretations of music by Czech composers.

Jan Walter Susskind (1913-1980), from Prague, Bohemia, became music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, of the Aspen Music Festival, CO, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Rafael Kubelik (1914-1996), a native of Bychory, Bohemia, was the foremost Czech conductor. In 1950 he was appointed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1973 he was made the first music director of the Metropolitan Opera in NY. He also composed several operas, symphonies, and choral works.

Zdenĕk Mácal (1936-), Brno, Moravia, a respected conductor, is renowned in the world of classical music. Since his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra over 25 years ago, he has conducted widely throughout North America, regularly leading the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the New World Symphony and the symphony orchestras of Montreal and Toronto.

Music Composers

Most eminent among them was Antonín Dvořák (1841 1904), b. Nelahozoves, Bohemia, a foremost Czech composer, who was invited to the US to head the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He stayed for 3 years (1892-95) and then returned to his native Bohemia. While in the US, he wrote his well- known symphony ‘From the New World’ which had its glorious premiere in Carnegie Hall in December 1893. While in America, he also wrote the remarkable Cello concerto and two string quartets.

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), a native of Kalištĕ, Bohemia, was noted for his 10 symphonies and various songs with orchestra, which drew together many different strands of Romanticism. Although his music was largely ignored for 50 years after his death, Mahler was later regarded as an important forerunner of 20th century techniques of composition and an acknowledged influence on such composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten.

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), whose mother, Pauline Nachod, was born in Prague, was a prominent classical composer and conductor. He created new methods of musical composition involving atonality, namely serialism and the 12-tone row. He was one of the most-influential teachers of the 20th century.

Rudolf Friml (1879-1972) from Prague, bohemia, is best known as the composer of romantic 1920s operettas. Friml also composed music for films, often based on his popular musicals, such as ‘Rose Marie’ and the ‘Vagabond King.’

Jerome David Kern (1885-1945), whose maternal grandparents came from Bohemia, is often called ‘Father of American Musical Theatre.’ He is remembered for more than a thousand songs for more than a hundred stage productions and movies.

Bohuslav Martinů (1890- 1959), b. Polička, Bohemia, was a prolific composer of modern classical music ballets, orchestral works, chamber music, piano pieces and songs.

Jaromír Weinberger (1896 1967), b. Prague, Bohemia, a pupil of Hofmeister, Křička and Reger, was a composer of operas, operettas, and orchestral works. He was the composer of one of the most successful operas between the wars, the comedy Švanda Dudák (Schwanda the Bagpiper).He is known for his popular opera ‘Schwanda the Bagpiper.’ He permanently settled in US in 1939.

Eric W. Korngold (1897-1957), a native of Brno, Moravia, was a child prodigy, who was brought to Hollywood in 1934 by Reinhardt. He composed operas, symphony works, chamber music, and songs. He won two Academy Oscars for musical scores.

Hugo David Weisgall (1912-1997), from Ivančice, Moravia, was an American composer and conductor who taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Julliard, and Queens College. He is considered one of the most important composer for the literary quality oh his texts and the individuality and effectiveness of his music.

Karel Husa (1921-2016), b. Prague, Czech., was composer and conductor educated in Prague Cons. of Music. He was a professor of composition and conductor of the student orchestra at Cornell Univ. (s.1954). He composed a large number of works for orchestra as well as chamber music. For his ‘3rd String Quartet’ he received the Pulitzer Prize in Music (1969).

Performing Musicians

Pianists - Arthur Schnabel (1882-1951), from Lipník, Moravia, was an eminent pianist. After coming to US in 1933, he was accepted as one of the greatest interpreters of Beethoven, as well as Mozart and Schubert.

Lily Kraus (1903-1986), a native of Budapest, of Bohemian father. was a noted pianist, known as a specialist in Mozart and Beethoven. From 1967 to 1983, she taught as artist-in-residence at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991), from Cheb, Bohemia, was an eminent pianist, known for his interpretations of the Viennese classics. He helped to establish the Marlboro Festival in Vermont and served as its artistic director.

Rudolf Firkušný (1912-1994), of Napajedla, Moravia, was a renowned Czech pianist who immigrated to US in 1940 and devoted a considerable part of his career to the promotion of Czech music abroad, including the works of B. Smetana, L. Janáček, and B. Martinů.

Violinists - Joseph Horymír Chapek (orig. Čapek) (1858-1932), b. Jestřebice, Bohemia, was a violinist, conductor, and composer. He introduced the Ševčík Violin Method in America (1883). He became first violinist with Mendelssohn Quintet Club, Milwaukee, WI (1883-85) and concert master of the Bach Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee, WI (1885-88). In 1888 he came to Chicago to take charge of the violin dept. of the Chicago Conservatory and later at the Apollo School of Music. He was professor of violin, Kemper Hall, Kenosha, WI (1904-10); and director of his own Chapek Music School (s. 1910).

Franz Kneisel (1865-1926), b. Bucharest, of Moravian father, was a noted violinist. In 1885, though barely 20 years old, he was engaged as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. For the next 20 years he was concertmaster and assistant conductor, appearing as soloist in many violin concertos and giving the first American performances of the concertos by Brahms. Shortly after his arrival in Boston, he formed and led the famed Kneisel Quartet with other BSO string players.

Joseph Ottokar Čadek (1868-1927d.), b. Prague, Bohemia, was a prominent Czech violinist who settled in Chattanooga in 1892. There he founded the Cadek Conservatory of Music at the Univ. of Tennessee in 1904.

Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Kolisch (1896-1978), b. Klamm am Semmering, Austria, of Moravian ancestry, was a violinist and leader of string quartets. The Kolisch String Quartet, which he founded in 1922, was renowned for its performances of modern music as well as its ability to play the classical repertoire from memory.

Cellists and Contrabassists - Darry Dolezal (1961-, b. Lawrence, KS, of Czech ancestry, is a cellist, trained at the Peabody Conservatory. An accomplished cellist, Dolezal has performed thousands of concerts in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall in New York City to the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro. His performances have been broadcast on major radio and television stations.

Bedřich Váška (1879-1979), b. Mladá Vožice, Bohemia, was a cello player who studied at Prague Cons. and was a pupil of Antonín Dvořák. He was a member of the famous Ševčík Quartet. After coming to US in 1911 he founded the Bohemian Trio; later became a member of the Eastman Quartet and from 1919 to 1930 he played with the New York String Quartet.

Václav Jiskra (1881-1962), b. Zinkovy, Bohemia, a contrabassist, was trained at Prague and in Vienna. After an appearance as a soloist in Chicago, he was acclaimed as the world’s greatest contrabass soloist and, in 1908, became a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as the principal double bass (1908-49).

Zdeněk Koníček (1923-), b. Bosnia, of Czech ancestry, an eminent Czech cellist, began music training at the age of six. His first professional activity was playing in the opera pit. He soon joined the Prague Symphony as principal cellist and also played with the Czech Philharmonic. After he defected from the communist Czechoslovakia, he immigrated to Canada, settling in Hamilton, where he became one of the driving forces in the city’s classical music scene.

Wind Instrument Players - Jaroslav Čimera (1885-1972), b. Přikosice, nr. Plzeň, Bohemia, was a noted trombone and euphonium player. He became soloist and assistant director in Kryl’s Band, first trombonist in Sousa Band in 1914, member of Innes Band, and in 1915 he organized a Czechoslovak Band of his own and toured the country for Ellison White, and Redpath Lyceum and Chatauqua Bureau. He was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and since 1923 had been broadcasting regularly over station KYW.

Karl Hoschna (1876-1911), b. Stražný, Bohemia, was an oboist and a composer noted for his songs Cuddle up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine, Every Little Movement and Yama Yama Man, and for a string of successful Broadway musicals.

Alex Klein (1964-), b. Porte Alegre, Brazil, of Czech ancestry, is an oboist who began his musical studies in Brazil at the age of nine and made his solo orchestral debut the following year. During his teenage years he toured and performed as a soloist, recitalist and as a member of several professional orchestras in Brazil. After a year at Oberlin he won first prize in the first Lucarelli International Competition for solo Oboe Players held in Carnegie Hall. He has received many awards worldwide including at the 1988 International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, Switzerland. He has performed as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Suisse Romande and Chicago Sinfonietta. Klein won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental soloist with Orchestra for his recording of Strauss Oboe Concerto with Danile Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony.

Helen Kotas (1916-2000), b. Chicago, IL, of Czech parents, was a prominent female horn player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in which she was principal horn from 1941 to -1947. She was one of the first principal horn players of a major US orchestra. Kotas subsequently left the Chicago Symphony to play principal horn with the Chicago Lyric Opera.

Petr Kotík (1942-), b. Prague, Czech., is a Czech American flutist and composer, educated in Prague and Vienna. In 1960 he settled in US where in 1970 he toured with SEM Ensemble. From 1971-72 he taught flute at SUNY Buffalo; taught composition at York Univ., Toronto (1975-76); and at Univ. of Buffalo (1976-77). He has had solo concerts and tours and performances with SEM Ensemble s. 1975.

Frank Kryl (1872-1938), b. Bohemia, who studied at Prague Conservatory, played horn with Chicago Symphony Orch. (1914-17). He also played in the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition Fair Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony horn; was director of the Frank Kryl Band, also a theater orchestra musician at the Covent Garden Theater, Chicago in 1920s.

Robert Weatherly (1922-2005), Coffeyville, KS, of Czech ancestry, was widely known as the greatest trumpet player in the world in the 1940s. Dr. Robert Weatherly was principal trumpet with the St. Louis Symphony and the U.S. Air Force Band.

Opera Singers

Among the first opera singers with Czechoslovak roots to appear in the US was Anna Dráždil (1841-1929) of Pustý Mlýn, Bohemia. She was a pioneer songbird (Contralto). She lived abroad 22 years and performed with world celebrities, such as Adelina Patti.

Ernestine Schumann-Heink (née Rössler) (1861-1936), a native of Libeň, Bohemia, was a celebrated American operatic Contralto, noted for the size, beauty, tonal richness, flexibility, and wide range of her voice. From 1899 to 1904, she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She often gave recitals and once toured the United States with the operetta’ Love’s Lottery.’

Leo Slezák (1873-1946), from Šumperk, Moravia, was a world-famous tenor. Slezák secured a three-year contract with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1909. Met audiences acclaimed him in performances of works by Wagner and Verdi.

Emmy Destinn (nee Kitlová) (1878-1930), from Prague, Bohemia, was a famous Czech dramatic Soprano of notable power and intensity. She made her American debut in 1908 in ‘Aida’ with the Metropolitan Opera in NY, Toscanini conducting, and remained with the company until 1916. She returned again in 1919 and stayed until 1921.

Maria Jeritza (orig. Marie Jedličková) (1887-1982), a native of Brno, Moravia, was a celebrated Soprano singer. Her rapid rise to fame, beauty and personality earned her the nickname ‘The Moravian Thunderbolt. She became famous for her leading role of Marietta / Marie in Korngold’s opera "Die tote Stadt,’ in which she debuted at the Metropolitan opera in 1921. In November 1926, she starred in the title role of Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ in its North American premiere at the Metropolitan, where she also created the title or leading soprano roles in Janáček’s ‘Jenůfa’ (1924), Wolf-Ferrari’s ‘I gioielli della Madonna’ (1925), Korngold’s ‘Violanta’ (1927), Richard Strauss’s ‘Die Ägyptische Helena’ (1928), and Suppé’s ‘Boccaccio’ (1931) and Donna Juanita (1932).

Thelma Votipka (1906-1972), from Cleveland, OH, of Czech ancestry, was an American Mezzo-Soprano who sang 1,422 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, more than any other woman in the company’s history.

Jarmila Novotná (1907-1994), b. Prague, Bohemia, was a celebrated Czech Soprano and actress. She began her professional career as an opera singer in 1925 with Smetana’s ‘Prodaná nevĕsta’ (Bartered Bride) and aroused enthusiasm by her role as Violeta in Verdi’s ‘La Traviata.’ From 1940 to 1956, she was a star of the Metropolitan Opera. Of her 208 appearances at the Met, 103 were in the breeches roles of Prince Orlofsky, Cherubino and Octavian.

Kurt Baum (1908-1989), b. Prague, Bohemia, was an American operatic Tenor. He is best remembered for his 25 seasons spent with the Metropolitan Opera, between 1941 and 1966.He was noted throughout his career for stentorian top notes.

Leonie Rysanek (1926-), b. Vienna, of Czech ancestry, is a dramatic Soprano, who has appeared in world’s foremost opera houses. Her Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1959 as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s ‘Macbeth,’ replacing Maria Callas who had been fired from the production.

Dolora Zajick (1952-), b. Salem, OR, of Czech ancestry, is an American Mezzo-Soprano who specializes in the Verdian repertoire. Zajick has been described as having one of the greatest voices in the history of opera.

Renée Fleming (1959-), b. Indiana, PA, of Czech ancestry, is an American Soprano opera and jazz singer. She is one of the most sought after sopranos of today, appearing at such renowned opera houses as the La Scala, Metropolitan Opera House, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House at Covent Gardens and Carnegie Hall.

Creative Writing - Anybody examining the bibliography of Czech American books, would be astonished at its bulk. Journalism preceded book literature, to be sure. The first newspaper, Slowan Amerikánský, came out January 1, 1860, while the first publication in book form, was issued in 1865. The first books were of practical nature - non-fiction type, including pocket dictionaries, almanacs, memorial books, cook books, manuals, handbooks, and guides and so forth. Nevertheless the true belles-lettres were not too far behind, which was particularly true in the case of women writers.

Czech-Language Journalists

Frank Kořízek (1820-1899), b. Letovice, Moravia, has the distinction of publishing the referenced Slowan Amerikánský, which makes him the first Czech-language publisher and Nestor of Czech journalism in the US. He was a humble stonemason and odd-job man, and a self-taught musician which helped him make his living. In 1877, Kořízek also began publishing Dennice Novovĕku, a weekly devoted to the development of free thought.

Vojtĕch ‘Vojta’ Náprstek (1826-1894), a native of Prague, Bohemia, interestingly, years before Kořízek’s achievement, had striven hard to establish here a newspaper in the Czech language. In 1857, he had addressed meeting of interested parties in St. Louis on the subject. He urged New Yorkers and Chicagoans to help and even outlined the future policy of such paper. Náprstek’s return to Europe in 1857 alone prevented him from realizing this pet project. It is for this reason that Náprstek is considered ‘father of Czech-American journalism.’

Charles (Karel) Jonáš (1840-1896), from Malešov, Bohemia, at invitation of publisher Frank Kořízek, came to Racine, WI to takeover editorship of his paper, which was renamed Slavie, even though he was barely twenty three years old. He soon assumed the responsibilities of editor, which position he held for thirty-two years. Among his colleagues. he attained an exceptional position; they looked up to him as an authority, and his views on matters relating to the national life of Czechs in America were regarded as final. Coincidently, he married Kořízek’s daughter, Christina.

Ladimír Klácel (1808-1882), b. Česká Třebová, Bohemia, a former monk, an outstanding Czech teacher, and author of a number of poetic and philosophical works, came to the US in 1869, at the invitation of Jan Bárta Letovský, to edit his Slovan Amerikánský (later renamed Slovan Americký). They soon parted company and, in 1871, he accepted editorship of Hlas Jednoty Svobodomyslných, organ of the Czech Freethinkers. In the same year, Klácel also began publishing a new periodical Svojan, which did not last long.

František Mráček (1828 1896), b. Nenakonice, nr. Olomouc, Moravia, after spending his first 6 years in New York as a cigar maker, became editor of Národní Noviny in St. Louis, MO. When the paper was combined with Slowan Amerikánský under the name, Slavie, he became its chief editor.

F. B. Zdrůbek (1842-1911), b. Bezdědice, Bohemia, educated as a Protestant minister, became one of the early editors of the Pokrok Západu. For many years he was also editor of the Chicago daily Svornost.

Jan A. Oliverius (1843 1904), b. Kralovice, nr. Plzeň, Bohemia, came to US in 1865, settling in St. Louis, where he became editor of Pozor Americký. He published and/ or edited as many as 16 periodicals which earned him nickname ‘newspaper grave digger.’

Joseph Buňata (1846-1934), b. Křesetice, near Kutná Hora, Bohemia, at his time, was the oldest Czech editor living in the US. He was editor of the Dělnické Listy in New York in 1877, of the Slovan in La Grange, Texas, in 1888 (the first Czech paper in that state), in 1898 of the New Yorské Listy in New York, in 1899 of the Pokrok Zapadu in Omaha, later of the Pravda in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Svornost in Chicago, IL.

Vaclav Šnajdr (1847-1920), a native of České Budĕjovice, Bohemia, came to America in 1869 to become a journalist. He first worked for Slavie in Racine, WI, then for Pokrok Západu in Omaha, NE and then in Cleveland, OH. In 1873, he founded in Cleveland a radical paper Dennice Novovĕku (Morning Star of the New Era) which he edited until 1910. Under his editorship the Dennice Novovĕku became the most literate of all Czech language papers published in the US. After the retirement of Jonáš from active journalism, Šnajdr occupied without doubt a foremost place as a newspaper writer. Interestingly, he married the second Kořízek’s daughter, Cecilia.

Josef Boleslav Pecka (1849-1897), b. Prague, Bohemia, was a leader in the Czech labor movement. In 1885 he moved to Chicago, where he became editor of Budoucnost (1886-87), Prace (1887), Dělnické Listy (1887-92), Pravda and Právo Lidu. He was a radical in his views but towards the end of his life he became a moderate when he assumed editorships of Chicágské Listy and Hlas Svobody.

Josef Jiří Král (1870-1951), b. Loužná, Bohemia, although trained as a lawyer, became a journalist in the US. He was co-publisher and editor of the Slavie, Racine (1894 1904), and editor of the socialist daily Spravedlnost (1905-11). He was considered one of the most talented journalists among the freethinkers.

Hynek Dostál (1871-1943), b. Boršice, Moravia, accepted

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