One of the greatest musicians in the Czech Republic, Felix Slováček, loves music with his body and soul. He devoted his entire life to music, which even earned him the Medal of Merit. In recent years, however, his name has been associated with love affairs rather than music. In an interview for LP-Life.com, the musician talked not only about music, but also about family happiness. Among other things, he revealed what can't be missing in his bedroom…
Definitely that I got together and broke up with Lucie (Lucie Gelemová, younger partner - ed. note), moved back to Dáda (wife)... In the meantime, of course, I was doing music, concert tours, everything was the way it should be. I was full of energy. Looking back, the worst part was the breaks, when I couldn't play because of Covid-19, and it’s been way too long. One had to be grateful for every small thing.
Many musicians, actors and other people in the art sector have lost their livelihoods. What were you doing during the time when you couldn't play? How did you use the time?
Naturally, I had to play for myself, so that my lips and fingers wouldn’t forget how it’s done, but I was playing pieces that I owed something to or that I wanted to learn from memory. It was always very saddening for me when the whole band went for a beer and we casually informed each other that this or that thing wouldn’t take place. Very disheartening...
For example, the concert of Artie Shaw, who was a fantastic American clarinettist that had his own big band just like me. He played the clarinet like me and he was even born on May 23 - like me! So it was very pleasant for me to get to know him through learning his work.
Well, about 26 or 27 albums, with say 13-15 pieces each, which is over 300-400 songs, and that’s just my records. Then there are a lot of recordings that I made either myself as the head of the Big Band of Czechoslovak Radio or with Láďa Štaidl, with Karel... a huge number of recordings.
You've played and still play with a lot of celebrities and stars, but many of them have already passed. Who do you like to remember, who was the best to play with and have a cold pint with?
I worked with Karel (Gott, ed. note) for 50 years, during the first 20 years every day. Then, when I was working for the radio, it felt like we were still connected through an umbilical cord, we kept coming back and recording, doing gala balls and so on. When the organizers didn’t know what to put on the program, they would call Karel, and he always reaped success, he was simply the icing on the cake. Nowadays, I think maybe Mr Dyk can pull that off. I can’t think of any other names at the moment.
I wouldn’t say successor, but he is definitely a very talented person who excels at both swing and pop. Whatever he dabbles in, it’s amazing. He is on the right track to make it big in the world.
Anička is trying very hard, she even wrote her own CD. I really like it when a singer sings their own repertoire. It’s great not just for now, but also for the future. As they say: throw something in front of you and you’ll find it later. Thank god, she is now healthy and full of energy. She has her own band, concerts, TV shooting for Ordinace v Růžové zahradě, and she performs all over the country. Felix has also been making his name as a clarinettist and saxophonist. He has an amazing voice that he uses in my band but also in various musicals in Semafor. He has been conducting very often lately, he is the head of the chamber orchestra in Písek.
It's nice when your children are self-sufficient. I think that self-sufficiency is the main thing you hope to see in every child. What’s more, my oldest daughter from my first marriage, René, is well known as a voice actress and is held in high esteem in her field.
I have two grandchildren. Young Felix actually has a clarinet recital right now and he also plays some kind of sports. It kind of reminds me of field hockey, but it has a different name, which I don’t remember. My second grandson is still small, but he’s very talented, he talks a lot, he’s smart. I would say Felix's relationship with Mrs Zemanková was really great, and the child is simply wonderful.
We are at the beginning and I am somewhat apprehensive, because most event organizers are still waiting and afraid. So even if something doesn't get cancelled right away, they might give you a call later saying that people are afraid, that there wasn’t enough interest, or that they are returning tickets. This is a strange era, where you never know what you can look forward to. But in spite of everything, I managed to record a new album, which I think worked out really nicely, and it will be called Nádherná láska (Beautiful Love). According to the song by Pavel Novák, Nádherná, nádherná, nádherná (Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful). The album will feature wonderful melodies by Petr Hapka, or Zdivočelá země (Wild country) by Zdeněk Barták, which is the main title, the motif, quite brilliant. And various hits from Michal David and Karel Svoboda or Nino Rota.
I don’t think I’ll have any special birthday celebration for my 79th. But I'll be thinking all year if I'm going to do a big concert for my 80th birthday. Of course, it will depend on my health too, but so far I feel pretty great. I'm fit, I was a little tired after the breakup with Mrs Gelemová, but now I think I'm almost 90% back in shape.
Do you have a recipe for getting in shape, some special exercises you like to do? After all, to be this fit at 79, to be able to pull through all those concerts, running around on stage, you have to have a recipe, or some kind of workout routine...
First of all, I have a bike in my bedroom and I always try to shed at least 500 kilocalories on it. Which isn’t easy, you break out in a sweat. And I also go to the gym, so that I could ask my coach what I'm doing wrong and what I should do or what I should add to my routine. I'm very happy when guys like Petr Janda, who organizes tennis three times a week, ask me to join, or some other friends invite me, and so on.
Before we say our goodbyes, can you invite our readers somewhere where they’ll definitely be able to see you this year, and where they’ll be able to hear your music?