Petr Hapka & Michal Horáček

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Hapka: 13 May 1944 - 26 November 2014
Horáček: 23 July 1952

Both born in Prague (but years apart) Hapka was born into a family with a musical legacy (one of the ancestors of Petr was reportedly the famous operetta composer Franz Lehár). At the age of five he began attending music school for piano lessons, which later added a game on the viola. He graduated in 1966 from the conservatory (violin, vocals). Oddly enough he took up an acting career performing in the Oldřicha Nového theatre Group and appearing in the 1963 movie ‘Okurkový’. Still, to earn some money he started performing in small theatres and was quickly enough aproached to write and conduct scores of theaterplays. Hapka became a known soundtrack composer during the seventies also arranging music for artists like Karel Gott. Movies like ‘Motiv pro vraždu’ (1973), ‘Den pro mou lásku’ (1976), ‘Panna a netvor’ (1977), and ‘Upír z Feratu’ (1981) all have his signature sound of clanging cymbals and folklike brass. The project ‘Tísícročná včela’ (1983) was a project that enabled Hapka to display his talents as a composer to the fullest.

In 1984 he met journalist and writer Michal Horáček (who already wrote lyrics for Michael Tučný and Peter Spaleny and had his first success as a novelist with the book ‘Království za koně‘) who would become his dedicated musical companion in pop. The two started working in a project which would become Hapka’s first step towards popular music. In 1986 the duo produced the album ‘Potměšilý host’ with singer Hana Hegerová. This led to participation on projects of W. Matuska, Hanna Vondráčková and Helena Zagorová. The next year they released an album under their own name called ‘V penziónu Svět’ with Michael Kocáb and Richard Müller on vocals. By then Horáček’s attention turned to other more political matters. As member of the youth magazine ‘Mladý svět’ he got into a dispute with the official concert promoter Pragokoncert over a gig with Depeche Mode in Prague. The promoter refused to book a western band but was eventually forced to allow the Prague concert. This precident allowed other western bands to come to Prague. In the summer of 1989 he founded together with Michael Kocáb (of Prazsky Vyber) the civic initiative MOST , which has set a target to mediate negotiations between the communist authorities and representatives of independent associations.

The duo Hapka/ Horáček returned to a next project in 1997 with the album ‘Citová investice’ of which the song ‘Dívám se, dívám‘ became their signature song. In 2000 Horáček recorded an album alone together with Richard Müller. Another collaborate album in 2001 saw them team up with mezzosoprano Magdalena Kožená and rocksinger Daniel Landa. The next years the two turned their attention to writing books (Horáček) or moviescores (Hapka). For the 2006 project Jaromir Nohavica and Jana Kirschner got involved (amongst others). In 2007 a filmproject saw the duo most popular songs turned into images for the DVD ‘Strážce plamene v obrazech‘.At the end of the first decade of the new millennium they started getting more inclined in poetry, resulting in a verse libretto of the musical-dramatic work ‘Kudykam‘ , preformed in a co-production with the Prague State Opera. In 2010 a best of was released under the title ‘Benefice černých koní‘. In 2013 Hapka was being hospitalized for a hip operation and showed a bad psychic recovery with probabel diagnosys for Alzheimer. On 26 November Petr died at the age of 70 due to a rapid deterioration of his health.

On the web:

- Michal's website: http://www.michalhoracek.cz/
- Profile of Hapka's soundtrack output: http://cinemania.sweb.cz/hapka.htm

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Goran Bregovic (Bosnia-Herzogovina)

What do we think:

DB: I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the music Hapka & Horáček create has become synonimous for us to the Czech and Slovakian country. The duo has such a strong signature sound. Their sort of 'clingclang-pots-and-pan music' can only be discribed as a sort of mix between Tom Waits and Goran Bregovic. It's folklore gone pop gone to the pub for some good food and wine. If you have travelled the countryside in both countries you can feel in every rock and town why this music is so typical for that European region. The brilliance is in how they are able to catch that into music. .


♪♪♪♪♪ - Potměšilý host - Hana Hegerová - 1987

♪♪♪♪ - V penziónu Svět - 1988

♪♪♪♪ - Citová investice – 1997

- Richard Müller - zpěv, Michal Horáček - slova - 2000

♪♪♪♪♪ - Mohlo by tu být i líp - 2001

♪♪♪♪ - Strážce plamene - 2006

- Kudykam  - 2009

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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  EUROPOPMUSIC - Central Europe