Credit: JAMU

Leoš Janáček Comes Alive In The Corridors of JAMU On His 170th Birthday

The Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU) has prepared a birthday video for Leoš Janáček (1854 – 1928), the celebrated composer who the academy is named after. The video was released today, 3 July 2024, on the 170th anniversary of Janáček’s birth.

Initial ideas to mark the occasion included a street performance with Janáček’s music, or larger-than-life depictions of the composer in the streets of Brno in places connected with his work. In the end, however, JAMU opted for a film “revival” of Leoš Janáček, moving around the environment of both the Music and Theatre faculties of the university. Students, teachers and employees of the academy all contributed to the production of the video.

“The supporting idea of ​​the clip is the ongoing legacy, inspiration and spirit of Leoš Janáček at both of our faculties,“ said JAMU spokesman Radoslav Pospíchal. “We were looking for a realistic-looking Janáček, who is still present in the corridors of the academy and, as a patron, advises current students, watches over them, helps them and inspires them to create. In the clip, we see him interacting with musicians, theatre artists, and also faculty and management staff. In short, Janáček is still here with us and follows the direction of the artistic activity at the school bearing his name.”

Janáček was portrayed and transformed into a composer by Lukáš Rieger, an actor from Brno and current pedagogue of the JAMU Theater Faculty. “For me, it was really fun working with the make-up artist, who, with the help of a hand-made moustache and really artistic make-up, created a series of optical illusions on my face, causing, for example, a morphological transformation of my nose, so that I felt like I was wearing a mask. But then I realized that even though my eyes look different now, they are still mine and must therefore be alive with my thoughts and emotions, because the mask will not play Janáček’s inner mood for me,” said Rieger.

In the one-minute clip, Janáček played together with students of piano, cello, and conducting, and physical theater students played clown roles. The clip is accompanied by Janáček’s composition, Pohádka: 3. allegro, for which JAMU used the recordings of the graduation concert of its students, Nikita Ruzhavinsky and Daria Savvateeva.

Jan Šmach, a student of the Faculty of Theater, was responsible for the script and direction of the three-day filming, and the only external member of the team, Tomáš Pakosta from THP production, took care of the camera, lights and post-production. Make-up artist Vlasta Žďárská from the Brno National Theatre (NdB) helped with the masking and make-up, and NdB also provided Janáček’s period costume.

The video ends with a charismatic voiceover by Petr Štěpán, a dubbing actor and pedagogue at the JAMU Theatre Faculty. The rector of JAMU, Petr Michálek, also appears in the video clip. “The result is a minute long, but many people participated in it for many days. In short, Leoš Janáček brought us together again, and we look forward to letting the world know that his legacy is still alive at JAMU,” he said.

The video clip premiered online today, on Janáček’s birthday, on JAMU’s social networks and the website It will also be screened as part of the Janáček 170 celebrations organized by NdB to mark the composer’s birthday, on the piazzetta by the Janáček Theatre, which also features a varied all-day program with a summer cinema, a children’s program, and video congratulations to Janáček.

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