A day in the life... (An interview for the Prague Tribune)

20.10.2013 18:34

The strenght of Vladimír Franz`s personality is clear the moment you meet him. As are his keen sense of humor and his erudition. Painter, composer, profesor at the Theatre Department of the Academy of Musical Arts (and chairman of its Academic Panel), lawyer, and eternal eccentric, doc.JUDr.Franz is one of those rare souls for whom the term "Renaissance Man" might actually fit.

According to the 39-year-old Franz, his inner clock is "set" according to the natural cycle: through the autumn and winter he teaches at the University and composes; the summer is devoted to painting. "In the spring, when there is more light and the weather is warm, I wake up at dawn," he says, "and starting in May I travel to the Brdy hills every morning for a swim." 

In the winter he rises later and takes his time, his levée most likely accompanied by music. But there is method to this languor; the state between sleepand wakefulness is ideal for composing, says Franz - when one is able neither to think, communicate, or telephone: "One`s consciousness is at rest, and one can simply receive." Franz carries his ideas in his had for a long time, allowing them to develop as necessary. "I cannot imagine ´composing´ my music," he says, "i.e. sticking notes together." 

This organic process finds its final musical form in Franz´s Zlín recording studio, where he works with the local orchestra, his days ruled by music. "Zlín is a town that offers absolutely nothing that could be of any interest to anyone," he explains, "so there are no distractions, just total concentration." 

As prolific a composer as he is significant, Franz has composed music for over sixty plays. For the National Theatre, for example, he wrote Bloudění (Wandering) and Pašije (Passions), and he is currently preparing an opera based on Bulgakov`s novel, The Master and Margarita. Nor are his efforts confined to the capital city. Franz cooperates with the theatrical community all over the Czech Republic. Two years ago he also tried his hand at film scoring, composing music for Tomas Vorel´s most recent project, Stone Bridge. 

When he isn`t composing or recording, Franz lectures at the Theatre Department of the Academy of Musical Arts on the the history of music and the use of music in drama. He also discusses his students` own ideas with them and organizes practical seminars. 

In June, when his "holiday" from theater and University begins, Franz heads for an estate in the Šumava mountains where "the whole summer is devoted to painting." One need to look hard in the work that results to see the inspiration Franz draws from nature. His loving relatinship with the mountain pervades every inch of these canvases. "I believe that a painting is in fact a sort of partly opened window to ´somewhere´. I stand by the window and wait. I wait for the golden pig, for Godot, for Santa... I think that sensible waiting is the way. I am an idealist."


Impertinent questins

What human quality irritates you the most?


Do you like to provoke people? 

I like to provoke intelligent people who radiate something and can reciprocate. 

What do you dislike about yourself? 


What is your favorite place in the world? 

Oh, there are many.. In June, my favorite place is the geological strata of granite and uranium at Dobrissko and Sumava. 

If you could do it all over again, would you try to accomplish anything else? 

If I could, I would do exactly the same thing; otherwise, i think I`d be a gardener. 

How would you describe yourself most comprihensivly? 

As a Romantic who exploits emotions intelligently. 

What word would you use to describe your approach to life. 


How do you see the theatre? 

As a pathogenic world where beautiful dreams take shape. 

How do you see Prague? 

As a wonderfull city in which I cannot work. 

What do you most ofen dream about? 

Usually I dream about events from everyday life, but sometimes it`s more interesting; recently, I dreamed that all of the children had to have their Teddy Bears baptised. 

What about you daydreams? 

They are about doing all the work I need to do, as opposed to all the work I must do. 

What gives you the greatest joy? 

The short-lived satisfaction after a newly-created work... Until I discovered its shortcomings.
Ludmila Skrabakova, The Prague Tribune, No44, February 1999