Jiří Šlitr

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The bust of Jiří Šlitr in Rychnov nad Kněžnou
Digital portrait based on a photograph

Jiří Šlitr , known as Dr. Klavír or Dr. Matrace (born February 15, 1924 in Zálesní Lhota , † December 26, 1969 in Prague ), was a Czech songwriter, composer, pianist, singer, actor, draftsman and graphic artist. In 1959 he founded the Semafor Theater together with Jiří Suchý and was its principal .


Šlitr grew up in Zálesní Lhota (German: Huttendorf) and first attended the grammar school in Jilemnice (German: Starkenbach). The family belonged to the Czech minority in the predominantly German-speaking village. According to the Munich Agreement , the Šlitr family had to leave their house in the village that was now part of the German Empire and fled to Rychnov nad Kněžnou . At the grammar school there he passed the Matura in 1943 and then worked as an office clerk in Bělá pod Bezdězem . After the end of the Second World War, Šlitr began studying law at the Faculty of Law at Charles University , which he completed in 1949 as JUDr. completed. He was then called up for military service in Milovice until 1951 , his last year of service he worked as an artist in the Central House of the Army. After that he did not take up a position as a lawyer, but devoted himself entirely to art.

Together with classmates, Šlitr had founded the band Rychnovský dixieland in Rychnov nad Kněžnou , which performed at the Akord Club in Prague after the war under the new name Czechoslovak Dixieland Jazz Band . From 1957 Šlitr accompanied Miroslav Horníček's theater group as a pianist . He made the acquaintance of Jiří Suchý . Together with Suchý he performed in the Reduta and in the Café Vltava . In 1958, Šlitr accompanied the appearance of the magic lantern at the Expo in Brussels. The following year he founded the Semafor cabaret with Suchý. Šlitr's musical virtuosity, Suchý's texts and Ferdinand Havlík's clarinet played the basis for the success of the Semafor. In 1964, Šlitr took sixth place as a singer in the “Golden Nightingale” competition.

In 1963 the duo Šlitr / Suchý had their first film appearance in Bylo nás deset . The musical comedy Kdyby 1000 klarinetů followed the following year . In 1965 Šlitr composed the jazz opera Dobře placená procházka , which was staged in 2007 by Miloš Forman at the Prague National Theater. Šlitr's performance of the work under the title A Walk Worthwhile on Broadway was a failure. Šlitr's plans to perform rock compositions in the Semafor led to a falling out with Havlík, which ended in 1966 with the expulsion of the Ferdinand Havlík orchestra. As a result, the duo Šlitr / Suchý split up. Subsequently Šlitr composed the Ďábel z Vinohrad and presented his drawings and graphics at art exhibitions in Dortmund , Wiesbaden and Montreal . In 1967, Šlitr presented the Stars of Prague show at the Montreal Expo , and at the same time exhibited his drawings in Hollywood and Houston . The events of 1968 resolved his falling out with Suchý. In response to the crackdown on the Prague Spring , he and Suchý created a pointed new staging of the play Ďábel z Vinohrad , which was directed against the Soviet invasion. Together they both signed the 2000 Word Manifesto . In the same year was Šlitr's last film appearance in Zločin v šantánu .

Jiří Šlitr's grave in the Vinohrady cemetery

On Boxing Day 1969, Šlitr and his girlfriend died of coal gas poisoning in their studio under unexplained circumstances . His death gave rise to a range of public speculation, ranging from double suicide to homicide. However, an accident is considered the likely cause of death.


On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the Šlitrs Spring Festival was founded in Rychnov nad Kněžnou . On the occasion of the 16th festival in 2009, a memorial plaque was placed in the Rychnov nad Kněžnou cinema for Šlitr, who lived in the house opposite.

Compositions (selection)

  • Babetta (text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Bíle mně matička oblékala (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Blues na cestu poslední (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Blues pro tebe (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Co jsem měl dnes k obědu (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Honky tonky blues (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Já nemám ráda muže (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Jó, to jsem ještě žil (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Kapitáne, came s tou lodí (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Láska se nevyhne králi (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Klokočí (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Kočka na okně (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Krajina posedlá tmou (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Léta dozrávaní (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Malé kotě (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Plná hrst (text: Jiří Suchý; interpreted by Pavel Sedláček , Pavlína Filipovská , Hana Hegerová and Jana Malknechtová )
  • Proč se lidi nemaj rádi (Text: Jiří Suchý)
  • Spodek, filek, král a eso - twist (text: Jiří Suchý; interpreted by Milan Drobný , Jiří Jelínek , Pavel Sedláček , Karel Gott , Pavlína Filipovská, Hana Hegerová and Jana Malknechtová)
  • Včera neděle byla (text: Jiří Suchý)

Film music (selection)

  • 1961: The Thieves of Pavlov (Zalobnici)
  • 1963: We were ten (Bylo nás deset)
  • 1963: Start over (Zacít znova)
  • 1963: About something else (O něčem jiném)
  • 1964: The Black Peter (Černý Petr)
  • 1965: The bird, it seems to me, has a sense of humor (Benefice S + S)
  • 1966: daisies (Sedmikrásky)
  • 1969: The kidnapper

Art exhibitions (selection)

  • 1957 Prague, first solo exhibition
  • 1958 Brussels
  • 1959, 1961, 1964 Prague
  • 1966 Wiesbaden, Dortmund and New York
  • 1967 Houston and Hollywood
  • 1968 Traveling exhibition together with Jiří Suchý, Czechoslovakia
  • 1969 Prague


  • Jindřich Černý: Osudy českého divadla po druhé světové válce. Divadlo a společnost. 1945–1955. Academia, Prague 2007, ISBN 978-80-200-1502-0 , pp. 394, 450.
  • Miloš Smetana: Jan Tříska a jeho dvě kariéry. 3., rozšířené a upravené vydání. XYZ, Prague 2004, ISBN 80-903399-5-6 , pp. 32, 171.
  • Jiří Suchý: Jiří Šlitr. Supraphon, Prague et al. 1970.

Web links