Welcome to Hit of the Century, our series in which you will get closely acquainted with hit songs across 100 years of Czechoslovakia’s and the Czech Republic’s existence – one song for every year since the country was founded. Today we’re going back in time to 1920.
The Prague cabaret the Red Seven is experiencing its greatest period of creative growth. The expanding company even founded a branch in Brno and undertook trips to the countryside for their fans, who could not make it into the city.
One of their most enduring and famous songs, the Song from Youth, was inspired by a random evening stroll taken by lyricist Eduard Bass and composer Jiří Červený after a tour performance of the Red Seven in Kolín.
As musicologist Josef Kotek discovered, the inspiration behind the piece was a refrain from a song played at a dance that the two authors observed from afar at the local Na Zámecké restaurant. Suddenly they realized that the fun was no longer geared toward them, but rather towards the next generation.
On January 10th, the League of Nations met for the first time in London.
On February 29th, the Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic was approved.
In 1920, the first verse of the Nad Tatrou song became part of the Czechoslovak hymn and the legendary Spejbl puppet came about.
And this brings us to an interesting point! Along with the print version of this chanson, saved in the Red Seven’s archive, was found a handwritten, self-critical note from Jiří Červený written years later: “It is not a sentimental song, it demonstrates rather a realistic resignation.” When the song was written, Bass was twenty-three years old, and Červený was just a year older… “Will you look at that: perhaps we were ‘young old-timers’?”
Their Song from Youth, which seems to commemorate younger times, is tinged with nostalgia and to this day it remains as an interesting document outlining the differences between generations. This is even more so the case when the old version is sung by Soňa Červená, a world renowned opera singer and the daughter of Jiří Červený, accompanied on piano by the author himself.
J. Červený/E. Bass: Písnička z mládí (Letní noc se rozklenula)
Refrain of the song:
Little Song, who I liked so much!
I feel it, I know it,
That I am no longer, no longer young.
That I am no longer, no longer young!