Ernst scholar Jan Pecka dies

I’m sorry to report the death of Jan Pecka in February 2013. He did some of the first serious scholarship on Ernst in the mid-1950s (at a time when no one was interested in this kind of virtuoso) and his 1958 MA Thesis  – ‘Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’ from the Philosophy Faculty of the J.E.Purkyne University, Brno – records a number of important discoveries, including the family documents in the Brno archives which show that Ernst was a child of his father’s second wife.

After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Pecka was forced to work as a maintenance man for 20 years – he told me that working on a Jewish musician was unpopular with the Soviet-influenced authorities – but after the fall of Communism he was able to resume his studies once again, and these culminated in his book Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst: Paganini z Brna (Brno: Archiv Mesta Brna, 2007). I found the volume difficult to get hold of, but it’s well worth the effort since, in addition to a fine text, it contains a CD with the world premiere recordings of Ernst’s Nocturne Op.8, No.1 and the Bolero op.16 (played by Vaclav Dvorak and Michal Rezek), a folder of facsimile documents in German about Ernst’s family, and a very full family tree that extends into the C20th. Fortunately, the Chicago film-maker Peter Grosz was able to interview Pecka a couple of years before his death, and his footage gives a good impression of Pecka’s character and passion for his compatriot.

I hope this footage will shortly be made available online

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)