Štĕpán Lucký

1919 (Zilina, Slovakia) - 2006 (Praque)


"I always distinguished strictly between the German culture and the terrible twelve years … To this day, my favourites are still Thomas Mann or Feuchtwanger … And naturally the old classics. And naturally German music."

Štĕpán Lucký was born in Žilina, Slovakia on 20 January 1919. He attended the conservatorium in Prague from 1936 onward, simultaneously studying mathematics; he wanted to become an astronomer or a musician. He wrote his first composition, Der Tod ist der Kaiser (no longer extant), during the war. In 1939 he joined the resistance against the National Socialists and took part in the Slovak National Uprising beginning in August 1944.

On 13 September 1944, Lucký was arrested by the Wehrmacht as a partisan. Initially held in custody in Budapest as a prisoner of war, he was then deported to Auschwitz as a political prisoner. From there he was transferred to Buchenwald Concentration Camp at the end of October / beginning of November 1944, shortly afterwards to the Niederorschel subcamp. He succeeded in obtaining vitally important medication from a fellow inmate by performing music for the latter.

After liberation he worked in Buchenwald as a nurse; as an interpreter he also gave guided tours of the camp to Americans. He was involved in an opera performance in the liberated concentration camp. On 20 May 1945 he made his way to Prague, where he studied composition and music theory in the philosophy faculty of Charles University and wrote for the daily Práce and the weekly Kulturní politika. In 1947 a bursary from the British Council enabled him to go to the U.K. to receive technical and dramaturgical training at the BBC for work in television. In 1954 he founded the music department of Czechoslovakian television and became the department’s head. He yielded to political pressure in the sixties and entered employment as a lecturer at the academy of musical arts in Prague, then worked primarily as a composer; altogether he produced some 140 film scores, but also operas, concerti and chamber music. Štĕpán Lucký had lost his eyesight entirely by 1995.

He died in Prague on 5 May 2006.