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Czechs in Professional, Artistic, Banking and Other Careers


Stanislav J. Letovsky

   Stanislav Jan Letovsky, composer and concert pianist. Letovsky's grandfather on his father's side, Jan Barta Letovsky was, with Frantisek Korizek, the first publisher of a Czech newspaper in this country (Racine, Wis., 1860). Letovsky was born in Omaha, his parents being Stanislav and Agnes Rezac Letovsky. At the age of six he began to study music under his father, a composer and cellist of marked ability, and later under Richard Burmeister, the bosom friend and pupil of Franz Lizst. While in his eighteenth year Letovsky, who had gone abroad to finish his studies, accepted the position of assistant conducter of the Stadt Theater in Kiel, Germany, during which time he composed and played several tours of piano concerts. At this time he was offered a scholarship to the Scharwenka Piano School of Berlin. Later, in Posen, Germany, the first conductor, Dr. Fritz Stiedry, resigned his position in favor of the young musician, who conducted in an amazing manner Richard Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelungen." During that period Letovsky made his debut as a full-grown pianist at a philharmonic concert at the Academy of Posen. The following season he accepted the position of First Conductor of the Grand Duke's Royal Opera in Mecklenburg and in 1916 was the recipient of a scholarship for piano and composition to the Academy of Tone Art in Vienna, Austria. His works as published in Berlin by Schlesinger, are: Sonata for piano, D flat, Op 1, Variations Upon An Original Theme, for piano, Op. 2, Five piano pieces: Praeludium, Il Penseroso, Valse Intermezzo, Sehnsucht, L'Allegro, Op. 3, Four Ballads for Piano, Op 4, Five Fantasy Pieces, Op. 5, Grand Opera in three acts, "Lady Anne", Op. 6 (Libretto by Walter Ramdohr), Five Songs, Op 14, a concert number for violin, with piano accompaniment, "Through My Dreams", Op 16. Letovsky is still in his early thirties and great things are expected of him as a composer, concert-pianist and symphony orchestra conductor. His early works show the influence of his European environment, whereas his later the influence of American inspiration. Among these latter are "Sheridan's Ride", "Sunday Morning" (an orchestral work which won a national prize in Chicago, 1925), "Huck Finn" (a fantasie for piano and orchestra), String Quartette, and many others. He has received many favorable press notices in Germany and Austria. With the exception of the time spent abroad, he has always lived in Omaha.

Miss Marie Mikova

   Marie Mikova, a highly talented concert pianiste and teacher, whose work is of remarkable technique and delicate brilliancy and who has won international renown. She was born in Omaha. Her parents are Joseph J. and Anna Drozda Mik. She graduated from the Omaha High School and studied piano in Omaha under August Mothe-Borglum. At the age of seventeen she appeared before the public in her first concert. In 1910 she began to study piano with Wager Swayne in Paris and in that city made her debut, at the age of twenty, playing with the Touche orchestra. She was the first Nebraska woman to play with an orchestra in Europe, in concert work. Miss Mikova has made two concert tours in the United States, from coast to coast, and for three years taught and played in the California State University in Berkeley, during the summer session. During the war Wager Swayne was forced to abandon his work and moved to New York, where Miss Mikova became his assistant. At present living in California.

   August Molzer, concert violinist and teacher of violin, Lincoln, Nebr. Mr. Molzer (the family name is Melcer) was born in Slane, Bohemia, in 1881 and at the age of seven came with his parents to Wilber, Nebr. In 1901 he went to Prague, Bohemia, to study there with the renowned teacher of violin, Prof. Otakar Sevcik, the teacher of Kubelik, Kocian and other celebrated violinists. After two years of serious study with Sevcik, he began to prepare pupils for this noted pedagogue, as well as for Prof. Stefan Suchy, now head of the violin department of the Prague Conservatory of Music. Prof. Molzer completed his studies with Sevcik in 1906, doing considerable teaching during the last two years. Besides his violin studies, he studied also piano, theory of music, harmony and allied subjects at the Prague Conservatory of Music under the direct personal supervision of the celebrated Dr. Anton Dvorak. He has had the honor of having played under the following celebrated masters: Dvorak, Grieg, Richard Strauss, Siefried Wagner and many other lesser known orchestral conductors. Upon his return to Nebraska he taught two years as head of the violin department at Wesleyan University, Lincoln, and two years in the University School of Music. In 1911 he established the Molzer School of the Violin, in which he continues as director. Since 1925 he is on the University of Nebraska faculty as professor of violin and has made several concert tours, principally in Nebraska. He has composed a number of violin pieces. His wife, Lucy Miller Molzer, pianiste, assists him.

Stephen Jelinek

   Stephen Jelinek, a cornetist of ability, was born in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, August 10, 1865, and came to Saline County with his parents, Frank and Marie Jelinek, in 1869, settling on a homestead near Crete. He grew to manhood there and later went to Chicago, where he was appointed bandmaster of the 11th Arizona Regiment in Porto Rico, entering upon his duties Nov. 1, 1894, during the Spanish-American War. His band numbered thirty-five men. In 1896 they returned to Washington, where they played in the parade during President McKinley's inauguration. They remained there until the close of April, when they sailed for the Philippine Islands, arriving at Samar Island on June 1, 1897. In September Mr. Jelinek obtained leave, promising to return, but his parents did not wish him to do so. He married Miss Frances Dvoracek of Wilber, and lives in Lincoln.

   Archie Baley, violinist, son of F. J. and Anna (Stibral) Baley of Omaha, was born August 5, 1906, in Lesterville, South Dakota. At the early age of four and a half years he began to take violin lessons of Dr. Juergens of Gregory, South Dakota. In 1913 he studied with Prof. Machek of Chicago, Illinois, and Prof. Rychlik of Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1915 with Prof. Frank Mach of Omaha, with whom he continued steadily during the next seven years and irregularly after that. In 1921, when but fifteen years old, he studied with the celebrated Prof. Otakar Sevcik of Prague, Bohemia, when the master was instructor in Ithaca Conservatory, Ithaca, N. Y. In the winter of that year he began to teach. In 1922 he headed a company of five artists who made a summer concert-tour through Nebraska and South Dakota, at which time he was member of the Omaha Philharmonic Orchestra as first violin. In 1923 he graduated from Omaha Central High School, where he took active part in the orchestra and "road show" features, the same being true of his previous attendance in the Abraham Lincoln High School of Council Bluffs, Iowa. In the fall of 1924 he became musical and dramatic critic on the Omaha Daily News, writing under the name of "Phil Mick", and in 1926 became a member of the World Herald (Omaha) staff, which position he now holds.

   Karel (Charles) Havlicek, violinist, was born in Omaha and studied violin there with various teachers. At the age of fifteen he entered the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, Germany, and later studied in Dresden, Prague and Paris. He then concertized in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe, associating in tours with Alice Nielsen, Vallin, Pardo, Crabbe, Oumesnil, Arthur Rubinstein and others. He was member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and during the last six years has been head of the violin department at Washington State College. Son of Edward Havlicek, an Omaha pioneer and well known musician.

   Agnes Knoflicek (Mrs. William Reddie), violinist, was born in Nebraska where she lived until her fourteenth year, when she went to Prague, Bohemia, to study violin with Prof. Stefan Suchy. Two years later she was obliged to return to the U. S., on account of the World War. She studied with Johannes Brill in Omaha and in Bush Musical Conservatory, Chicago, where she won the Sevcik scholarship. Twice she studied with Prof. Sevcik, when the master visited our country. She gave concerts as violin soloist for four seasons, all over the United States. At present living in Chicago, Ill., where she fills engagements and is studying with Leon Lamatini.

Prof. Frank Mach Jr.

   Frank Mach Jr., violinist, son of Omaha pioneers, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Mach Sr., was born in Omaha August 28, 1887. He showed unusual talent in early childhood and later studied in the Prague Conservatory of Music, Prague, Bohemia, completing his studies with Prof. Jan Marak. Upon his return to Omaha, he engaged in teaching in which he has made a brilliant success, developing many fine artists. Some of his pupils are now leaders of our leading orchestras.

   Frank W. Hodek, composer, concert pianist and choral and orchestral director, living in Omaha, has gained wide prominence as the conductor of the Nightingale Orchestra, for the music of this splendid organization is broadcast by radio and is popular with those who listen in. Mr. Hodek was born in Baltimore, Md., July 19, 1895, the son of Frank W. and Theresa (Skrivan) Hodek. His father is a musician of ability, therefore the son comes by his talent through heritage. Mr. Hodek studied music first in his native city Baltimore and continued later in the Prague Conservatory of Music, where he paid special attention to piano, harmony and orchestration. Upon his return to Omaha he became a student in Creighton University. During the World War he spent two years in Europe, in service. At present he is conductor of the Nightingale Orchestra, which organization besides doing radio work under his direction has made tours in Nebraska and neighboring states.

   Helen Sadilek Kyhl, pianiste, daughter of Charles and Mary (Sabata) Sadilek, was born November 21, 1883, in Chicago, Ill. Her father is an old resident of our state and her mother is a daughter of an early Saline County pioneer, Frank Sabata. Mrs. Kyhl began her piano studies at the age of twelve, in Omaha, first under Mr. Schwartz, then with Mr. E. M. Jones. She graduated the Central High School of Omaha in 1904 with highest honors, her average for the entire time being over 97. During her High School days Mrs. Kyhl was president of the Orpheus Club, a musical organization, accompanist for the High School Glee Club, a musical organization, and winner in the musical division of the Senior Contest. After graduation she continued her musical studies under Tom J. Kelly, Joe Barton and Alice Fawcett and taught piano as well, besides being accompanist for the Vocal Department at Bellevue College and in many Omaha studios. She gave her first piano concert before the faculty and students of Bellevue College in the historic old Presbyterian Church in Bellevue. This was followed by others in Omaha. Mrs. Kyhl then studied in Berlin, Germany, during 1909--1911 under Prof. Xaver Scharwenka, harmony under Dr. Hugo Leichtenritt. Upon her return home, she opened a studio in Omaha, teaching piano and coaching voice; studied voice under Mary Munchoff and was accompanist in that artist's studio for three years, appearing also as soloist and accompanist in public. In 1916 she married Louis C. Kyhl and became the mother of two children. Mr. and Mrs. Kyhl now reside in Washington, D. C.

Mrs. Clara Schneider Tesar

   Clara Schneider Tesar, violinist, was born in South Omaha, Nebraska, July 19, 1902. She graduated from Comenius grade school and Technical High School of Omaha. At the age of eight years she began to study violin with Prof. Frank Mach and has done a great deal of concert work in Omaha. She toured Colorado, Nevada, Utah, California and Oregon with the Southern Festival Circuit of Ellison White Co., from September 15, 1924, to December 21, 1924. Mrs. Tesar was for two seasons concert master and soloist of the Omaha Little Symphony. At present living in Omaha.

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