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Bohuslav Martinů’s Original Letters Donated to His Birthplace

On March 26, Ambassador of the Czech Republic Hynek Kmoníček delivered a private donation of original correspondence, written by the famous Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů to his friend Frantisek Rybka in the United States between the years 1940-1959, to the Municipal Museum and Gallery Polička in the Czech town of Polička.

James Rybka, the son of the recipient of the letters, handed the valuable donation to Ambassador Kmoníček, symbolically during the Czech National Day reception at the Czech Embassy on October 26, 2017.  Several members of Dr. Rybka’s family, who traveled from California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, attended the occasion.

Completing their safe journey across the ocean, Ambassador Kmoníček hand delivered the valuable documents to Pavla Juklová, the Director of the Municipal Museum and Gallery Polička.

The Ambassador stated, “The letters, written in the 40s, sound as if they were penned yesterday. It is a rare look into his personal and social life in America. Martinů, who I thought of as a cautious intellectual, is very human and open. For example in one letter, he describes that he has been overwhelmed by laziness, due to which he does not feel like composing.”

The Municipal Museum and Gallery Polička houses a unique collection of music and personal documents of Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959), one of the most noted Czech composers of classical music of the 20th century. In view of the fact that Martinů spent more than half of his life abroad and earned a living almost entirely by composing, the amount of music and documents, photographs and correspondence in comparison with other composers is extraordinarily large.

This material may be found in various institutions and private ownership around the world; however, the collection in his place of birth is unequivocally the vastest and the most complete.

The Director of the Museum, said, “The Municipal Museum and Gallery Polička greatly appreciates the decision of James Rybka and his family to donate this unique compilation of letters to the Museum’s collection. This is a valuable gift and archival material, which is significant in light of its scope and content. Some of these letters are unknown and may fill in and clear up many threads from the life and work of Bohuslav Martinů.”

The Rybka family’s donation will considerably enrich the more than 3,600 materials currently held in the collection of Bohuslav Martinů in the museum in Polička.


Martinů letters found their new home