Jiří Traxler

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Jiří Traxler
Traxler-95 narozeniny-2007.jpg
Jiří Traxler celebrates 95th birthday, Edmonton, Canada, 10 March 2007.
Background information
Birth name Jiří Traxler
Born (1912-03-12)March 12, 1912
Tábor, Austria-Hungary
Died August 7, 2011(2011-08-07) (aged 99)
Edmonton, Alberta
Genres Jazz
Swing
Occupations Composer
Arranger
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Karel Vlach
Rudolf Antonín Dvorský
Jaroslav Ježek[1]

Jiří "George" Traxler[2] (March 12, 1912 – August 7, 2011)[3] was a Czech Canadian jazz and swing pianist, composer, lyricist and arranger. He is considered a founder and co-creator of the swing music era in the Czechoslovakia.[4] Traxler was the last surviving collaborator of the renowned Czech pre-war composer Jaroslav Ježek. In 1951 he emigrated to Canada, and lived with his wife, Jarmila, in Edmonton[5] until his death in the summer of 2011.

Biography[edit]

Jiří Traxler (left) and Jaroslav Ježek in Studio Ultraphon on 21 April 1938.

Traxler was born in Tábor, Bohemia, then a part of Austria-Hungary.[5] He began his musical training at the early age at the Music Institute in Tábor. As a high school student he joined his brother's dance orchestra called „The Red Ace Players“. Following his graduation at local gymnasium he began studying law but didn't finish his studies and from 1935 he devoted himself solely to music.

From 1935 to 1937, Traxler performed and recorded as a member of the Gramoklub Orchestra in Prague.[6] Two of his compositions—Feelin´ Low and Short Story—were included in the series of recordings that were made in 1936 for the popular Czechoslovak label Ultraphon. His foxtrot A Little Rhythm became the theme song of the orchestra.[7] In 1937 he became a member of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of Music Authors and Publishers (in Czech: Ochranný svaz autorský (OSA)).

His brief collaboration with Jaroslav Ježek and his Swing Band began in 1938. Traxler wrote four promising jazz compositions for Ježek's band, two of which (Full Moon´s Music and Noisy Serenade) were recorded for Ultraphon. The other compositions (Roaring in F and Blues) Ježek performed in 1938 at the Prague Radio. The scores for the songs were lost. The collaboration between them was interrupted in January 1939, as Jaroslav Ježek was forced to emigrate to the United States when Nazis took up the power in the Czechoslovakia.[6]

In the late 1930s, Traxler has co-worked with the ensembles Blue Music (1938–1939) and Elit Club (1942). Additionally, he was engaged as a composer of modern dance music at the Prague's publishing house Mojmír Urbánek. In 1939 he has signed a five-year contract with a prominent publishing house led by singer and bandleader R. A. Dvorský. As a member of the R. A. Dvorský Orchestra, Traxler performed at the major stages in Bohemia and Moravia. He also took up the post of the arranger, lyricist, translator and host of the concert and radio performances of the orchestra. In 1948 he came back to Urbánek, however, his new five-year contract ended prematurely because of nationalization of the private property by the Czechoslovak communist régime in 1948. At the same time, he joined the Karel Vlach Orchestra.[8]

In 1949, a year after communist coup d'état, Traxler composed music for the comedy play Moje žena Penelopa (My Wife Penelope). The performance of the play was banned by communists immediately after the premiére as "politically undesirable".[8] The same year, he decided to flee the country.[5]

Following a short stay in West Germany, Traxler went to Canada in 1950.[5] In the different conditions of his new home, he gradually ended up finding fulfilment as a composer and arranger.[8] He has settled in Montreal and worked as a drafter[8] in the company Canadair Ltd. Traxler published his memoires "Já nic, já muzikant" (Don't Blame Me, I'm Just a Musician, 1982) in the Czech Canadian exile publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers, led by Josef Škvorecký.[5] In 2008, the Edmonton chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) arranged for publication of Traxler's second book "Já nic, já muzikant na penzi" (subtitled "Literary etudes of the jazz mohican"). The book contains Traxler's witty writing, verses, song texts, aphorisms, short stories and other literary forms witnessing the inextinguishable creativity of his mind until the last years of his life. In 2009, Czech musician Ondřej Havelka made a documentary Poslední mohykán (The Last of the Mohicans), mapping the life story of Jiří Traxler.[9] Jiří Traxler died in Edmonton on August 7, 2011 at the age of 99.[3]

Works[edit]

Jiří Traxler - Award for "Contribution to the Czech music".

During his career in the Czechoslovakia, Traxler's output counts around 120 titles released on vinyl records or printed. The total number of his compositions is around 200.

Film music[edit]

  • Eva tropí hlouposti (1938) - the first Czech „crazy comedy“, music together with Kamil Běhounek.
  • Za tichých nocí (In the Quiet Nights, 1941) - jazz arrangements for three compositions by Rudolf Friml.
  • Sobota (Saturday, 1944) - music and lyrics, together with J. Stelibský.

Stage music[edit]

  • Hledá se zlato - student work, music a lyrics.
  • Tak jako v nebi (1947) - musical, together with Petr Kareš.
  • Moje žena Penelopa (1949) - Polish comedy, the successful performance was subsequently banned by communists.

Songs[edit]

  • Hádej, hádej
  • Jedu nocí
  • Soumrak
  • Padají hvězdy z nebe
  • Bloudění v rytmu
  • Nám to nevadí
  • Bílé mraky

Recordings[edit]

  • Hold Jiřímu Traxlerovi, CD (FR0167-2)[10]
  • Kamil Běhounek, Jiří Traxler - Swing Time, CD[11]

Awards[edit]

  • Masaryk Prize (2006) - awarded by Czech and Slovak Association of Canada (České a slovenské sdružení v Kanadě) to the notable personalities of Czech origin living abroad.
  • 2009 - Award for the "Contribution to the Czech music" by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of Music Authors and Publishers (Ochranný svaz autorský (OSA))

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faltýnek, Vilém (2009-06-21). "Jiří Traxler by se chtěl vrátit do osmdesátky - Radio Praha" (in Czech). Czech Radio. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b "Ve věku 99 let zemřel v Kanadě skladatel Jiří Traxler" (in Czech). ČTK. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Štráfeldová, Milena (2007-03-13). "Čechokanaďan Jiří Traxler se dožívá pětadevadesátin - Radio Praha" (in Czech). Czech Radio. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Masarykova Cena za rok 2006 - Jiří Traxler" (in Czech). Czech and Slovak Association of Canada. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Marešová, Milena M. (2009-02-05). "Já nic, já muzikant... na penzi - Kultura (Český rozhlas)" (in Czech). Czech Radio. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Dorůžka (1967), p. 48
  8. ^ a b c d "Traxler Jiří" (in Czech). krajane.net. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Jiří Traxler v dokumentu Ondřeje Havelky" (in Czech). Czech Television. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Hold Jiřímu Traxlerovi" (in Czech). Radioservis. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "Kamil Běhounek, Jiří Traxler - Swing Time, CD" (in Czech). Popron. Retrieved 1 June 2010.  (with a commentary by Josef Škvorecký)

Literature[edit]

  • Dorůžka, Lubomír; Poledňák, Ivan (1967). Československý jazz - minulost a přítomnost. Prague/Bratislava: Editio Supraphon.  (Czech)
  • Traxler, Jiří (2008). Já nic, já muzikant... na penzi - Literární etudy jazzového mohykána. IFP Publishing. ISBN 978-80-903997-4-7.  (Czech)
  • Traxler, Jiří; Havelka, Ondřej (preface) (2012). Život v rytmu swingu. Prague: Nakladatelství BVD. ISBN 978-80-87090-55-8.  (Czech)

External links[edit]