Josef Kajetan Tyl

Written by Husakova Kristina

Category: Notables

Josef Kajetan Tyl (February 4, 1808 – July 11, 1856) was a Czech playwright, writer, and actor. He is best known as the author of the Czech national anthem “Kde domov muj” (“Where My Home Is”), which was heard for the first time in his play “Fidlovacka aneb Zadny hnev a zadna rvacka” (“Fidlovacka, or No Anger and No Brawl”) in 1834.

Tyl was born in Kutna Hora in the Central Bohemian Region as the first son of Jiri Tyl, a tailor and a retired military musician. In 1822, Tyl began his studies at a grammar school in Prague, and in 1827 he continued in Hradec Kralove, where he met his teacher, a playwright Vaclav Kliment Klicpera. It was Klicpera who awakened the love of theater in Tyl. After graduating from grammar school, he returned to Prague to study philosophy. However, he never finished his studies.

Even as a student, Tyl was active in theater, and he soon left school to follow his passion. He became a member of the Hilmer traveling theatre company, where he met his future wife, Magdalena Forchheimova, an actress and an opera singer. After two years of journeying and performing in the Czech and German countryside, the company disbanded, and Tyl returned to Prague, where he obtained the position of a military accountant. In his spare time, he still devoted himself to theater and journalism.

In the year 1833, Tyl became an editor for the magazine “Kvety ceske” (“The Czech Blossoms”); the name was shortened two years later to “Kvety” (“Blossoms”). In 1842, he also became an editor for the magazine “Vlastimil” and, in the year 1846, for the magazine “Prazsky posel” (“The Prague Messenger”). In 1849, his efforts to establish the “Sedlske noviny” (“Farmer’s Newspaper”) came to naught for political reasons.

In 1833, Tyl and a group of writers from “Kvety” established “Kajetanske divadlo”; one of the first theaters in the Czech Republic to perform in Czech. There Tyl wrote or translated around fifty plays, including the works of William Shakespeare. In 1837, the theater was officially prohibited from acting in the Czech language and ceased all operations. In December of 1834, his most famous theatrical play “Fidlovacka” was performed at the Estates Theater. In 1842, Tyl left his job in the military to work full-time in the Estates Theater, where he was, four years later, appointed playwright of the Czech plays.

In the revolutionary year 1848, Tyl briefly became a Member of the Reichstag. The political situation forced Tyl to leave Prague, and in 1851, he and his family joined a traveling theater company. Mounting misery and hard work caused his untimely death. In 1856, Tyl died of an unknown illness in Pilsen on an acting tour. He was buried in a local cemetery.

Josef Kajetan Tyl

Josef Kajetan Tyl

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