Karel Kryl

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Karel Kryl
Karel Kryl memorial plaque.jpg
Background information
Born (1944-04-12)April 12, 1944
Kroměříž, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia[1]
Died March 3, 1994(1994-03-03) (aged 49)
Munich, Germany[2]
Genres folk, Protest song
Occupations poet, Singer-songwriter, musician, graphic artist
Instruments guitar,
Years active 1968–1994
Labels Supraphon, Primaphon, Caston, Bonton, And the End Records
Website [1]

Karel Kryl (April 12, 1944 Kroměříž – March 3, 1994 Munich) was an iconic Moravian singer-songwriter and performer of many protest songs in which he strongly criticized and identified the shortcomings and inhumanity of the Communist and later also post-communist regimes in his home country.

The lyrics of Karel Kryl's songs are highly poetic and sophisticated, with a frequent use of metaphors and historical allusions. The sparse sounds of an accompanying acoustic guitar served to underscore the natural flow of the lyrics themselves. In certain respects—especially the complexity of his lyrics and his accompaniment by a single acoustic guitar—Kryl was similar to a young Bob Dylan. However, unlike Dylan, the Czech singer had a smooth and pure voice, which gave a hauntingly sad quality to his mournful descriptions of conditions under a totalitarian regime. He was bitterly critical of the new regime established after the collapse of communism in his country, including Václav Havel, and those who were responsible for the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Biography[edit]

Kryl was born on April 12, 1944, in Kroměříž, in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, . He was the son of Karel Kryl and Marie Šebestová. His father owned a printing business, which was confiscated from the family in 1948 after the communist takeover.[2] Kryl wanted to be a potter and studied at an industrial secondary school where he specialized in ceramics. He graduated in 1962.

Kryl moved to Prague in 1968 as an assistant at Czechoslovak Television. In his spare time he performed his songs in numerous small clubs. When the Warsaw Pact armies occupied Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, to suppress the Prague Spring reform movement, Kryl released his first album. The title song Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Close the Gate, Little Brother) was composed spontaneously on 22.8. 1968 as an immediate reaction to the occupation. The album described his perception of the inhumanity of the regime and his views on life under communist rule. The album was released in early 1969 and was banned and removed from shelves shortly after.

Kryl left Czechoslovakia in 1969 to attend a music festival at Waldeck Castle in West Germany. Faced with certain imprisonment in his homeland, he decided to apply for political asylum and stay. He attained a second, German, graduation in 1973 and went on to study art history and journalism at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, though he never attained a title.[2] For the majority of his time in exile, Kryl worked for Radio Free Europe and released a number of albums during this period. Though his albums were banned in Czechoslovakia and not played on government-controlled radio stations, many of his songs became iconic back in his homeland, where listening to his records or singing his songs became a major component of underground protest. Kryl went on several tours across Scandinavia, North America and Australia. During this time, he composed songs not only in his native Czech, but also in Polish and German.[1]

In the enthusiastic November days of 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, Kryl returned to Czechoslovakia to attend his mother’s funeral. At first he was thrilled, but he later reportedly became disappointed with the transformation of society.[3] He continued to write protest songs criticising the transformation of government. On March 3, 1994, just a month before his fiftieth birthday, Karel Kryl died of a heart attack in a Passau hospital.[4]

Awards[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hraje a zpívá Karel Kryl
  • Kníška Karla Kryla
  • Sedm básniček na zrcadlo
  • Pochyby
  • 17 kryptogramů na dívčí jména
  • (Zpod stolu) sebrané spisy
  • Slovíčka
  • Amoresky
  • Z mého plíživota
  • Zbraně pro Erató
  • LOT
  • Sněhurka v hadřících
  • POD GRAFIKU
  • Půlkacíř
  • Texty písní
  • Básně
  • Krylogie+Půlkacíř
  • Rozhovory
  • Demokracie, aneb s malou vadou na kráse…

Discography[edit]

Kryl's grave at the Břevnov cemetery at St. Margharet in Prague

Karel Kryl only released one album in Czechoslovakia (Bratříčku, zavírej vrátka),[5] but he released many albums while in exile, a prominent example would be Tekuté písky.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Churaň, Milan. "KRYL Karel". KDO BYL KDO v našich dějinách ve 20. století. Nakladatelství Libri. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Kryl, Karel. "Životopis". Marlen Kryl. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Kryl, Karel (2000). Krylogie: Půlkacíř. TORST. p. 64. ISBN 80-7215-102-9. 
  4. ^ Kryl died in Passau but the first announcement about his death specified Munich, by mistake. Zezula, Jaromír (2001-04-19). "56. Birthday of Karel Kryl". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  5. ^ Horáková, Pavla (2006-08-22). "Radia.cz Article". Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  6. ^ a b "Kryl Discography". Retrieved 2009-06-25. 

External links[edit]

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