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Traxler, Jiřífree

  • Brian Locke

(b Tábor, Bohemia, March 12, 1912; d Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug 7, 2011). Czech-Canadian composer, lyricist, pianist, arranger, and translator. He was one of the leading Czech swing musicians of the 1940s. As a youth, he acquired knowledge of jazz from BBC broadcasts, which he emulated in his local amateur band. Emanuel Uggé, a Czech proponent of ‘hot’ jazz, invited Traxler to Prague in 1935 as composer and pianist for the Gramoklub Orchestra. Early performances and recordings attracted the attention of r.a. dvorský and jaroslav ježek; in 1938, the latter approached Traxler as a possible assistant at the Liberated Theatre (plans truncated by Ježek’s sudden prewar emigration).

In 1939 Traxler signed a five-year contract with R.A. Dvorský, whose company included recording, sheet-music publishing, and multiple touring orchestras. His arrangements for the swing band of karel vlach reveal a keen ear for the latest American trends, despite his seclusion in Nazi-occupied Bohemia. Three of his songs, including Wandering in Rhythm, became hits for the star vocalist inka zemánková.

For a brief period after the war, Traxler became a leading representative of big band music, but shortly after the Communist takeover, his performance of Glenn Miller’s American Patrol on live radio precipitated the termination of his career. He defected to the West on New Year’s Eve, 1949, crossing the border into Bavaria on foot. In 1951 Traxler emigrated to Canada, where he was initially involved in CBC radio’s foreign language service; unable to sustain a musical career, he became a draughtsman for an engineering firm. He retired to Edmonton, passing away just six months before his centenary.

Works

(selective list)

Published songs

Recording information includes name of vocalist/s, orchestra, and year of release.

GK

Gramoklub Orchestra

JJ

Jaroslav Ježek Orchestra

KV

Karel Vlach Orchestra

MB

R.A. Dvorský and his Melody Boys

SH

Sestry Havelkovy Orchestra

Songbook collections

Title

Genre

Lyricist

Publication

Recording

Jiří Traxler 1.

K. Kozel

R.A. Dvorský, 1939

1 Veselá násobilka

foxtrot

Lišáci, MB, 1940

2 Růžové brýle

slow foxtrot

Lišáci, MB, 1940

3 Dobrou noc

foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1939

4 Smolař

swing foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1940

5 Jedu nocí . . .

cowboy song

Dvorský, MB, 1940

6 Vzpomínky jako stín

slow foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1939

7 Věčné mládí

foxtrot

-

Jiří Traxler 2.

Kozel

Dvorský, ?1941

1 Ztratil jsem tvůj smích

slow foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1941

2 Honba za písničkou

foxtrot

Sestry Allanovy, MB, 1941

3 Náhodou

blues

Zemánková, MB, 1941

4 Hádej, hádej . . .

foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1941

5 Klíče k ráji

slow foxtrot

Kavka, KV, 1941

6 V sedmém nebi

foxtrot

Sestry Havelkovy, SH, 1996

7 Zbytečná slova

slow foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1941

Jiří Traxler 3.

Kozel

Dvorský, ?1942

1 Soumrak

cowboy song

Sestry Allanovy, MB, 1942

2 To si pamatuj

foxtrot

Kavka/Sestry Allanovy, KV, 1942

3 Když láska mizí

slow foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1942

4 Bláznivý den

swing

Zemánková, KV, 1942

5 Padají hvězdy s nebe

slow foxtrot

Kavka, KV, 1942

6 Nevíš, ach nevíš

waltz

Salačová, KV, 1942

Jiří Traxler 4.

Traxler

Dvorský, ?1943

1 Jen jednou za tisíc let

slow foxtrot

Salačová, KV, 1943

2 Láska se mi vyhýbá

foxtrot

Sestry Allanovy, KV, 1943

3 Teď raději mlč

slow foxtrot

Salačová, KV, 1943

4 A večer s vámi

chanson

Dvorský, MB, 1943

5 Divoký vítr

foxtrot

Sestry Allanovy, KV, 1943

6 Potkal jsem svůj sen

slow foxtrot

Dvorský, MB, 1943

6 x Jiří Traxler

Traxler

Urbánek, 1946

1 Proč?

slow foxtrot

-

2 Bye-bye baby

foxtrot

-

3 Píseň končí

slow foxtrot

-

4 Můj přítel kominik

foxtrot

-

5 Zpívám ti

slow foxtrot

-

6 Píseň pro milou

waltz

-

Jiří Traxler 5.

Traxler

Dvorský, 1948

1 Kolik dní má týden

slow foxtrot

-

2 Hudba mě volá

foxtrot

Sestry Havelkovy, SH, 1996

3 Budu ti vyprávět

slow foxtrot

Sestry Havelkovy, SH, 1996

4 Tebe jen

swing foxtrot

-

5 Bim-Bam

waltz

-

6 Starý strom

slow foxtrot

Šimíčková, SH, 1996

Individually published songs

Title

Genre

Lyricist

Publication

Recording

Všemu se usmívám

swing foxtrot

R. Jurist ml.

M. Urbánek, ?1940

Kavka, KV, 1940

Peter, Peter, wo warst du heute Nacht?

(Ger. trans. of Hádej, hádej . . .)

foxtrot

K.S. Richter

Peter Schaeffers, 1941

Kreuder, 1941;

Igelhoff, 1941;

Jary, 1941;

Berking, n.d.; Winter, n.d.

My tři

foxtrot

Traxler

Dvorský, ?1942

Sestry Allanovy, KV, 1942

Měsíc to zavinil

foxtrot

V. Dubský

Dvorský, 1943

Kavka, KV, 1941

Opona padá (from the film Sobota)

slow foxtrot

Traxler

Urbánek, ?1944

Salačová, KV, 1944

Boogie Woogie

piano solo

-

Dvorský, bef. 1947

Sestry Havelkovy, SH, 1996

Weekend

swing foxtrot

-

Dvorský, 1947

-

Stage and Film

Eva tropí hlouposti (film score, dir. M. Frič), 1939, with music by Běhounek

Sobota (film score, dir. Wassermann), 1944, with music by Stelibský

Moje žena Penelopa (swing operetta), perf. 22 Dec 1949, cond. Vlach

V rytmu swingu buší srdce mé (mt pastiche), perf. 10 Sept 2015, mus. arr. O. Havelka, with music by Ježek, A. Jindra, and J. Šíma

Arrangements and Lyrics

Arrs. of compositions by Běhounek, Blahník, Friml, Ježek, Jindra, Jurist, Kareš, Korbař, Maršík, Nezval, Pokorný, Rychlík, Srnka, Stelibský, Vacek, and others

Original lyrics to songs by Baur, Ducháč, Jindra, Krautgartner, Stelibský, Vlček, and others

Czech lyrics to songs by Berlin, Carmichael, Gershwin, Loesser, Piaf, Porter, and others

Other recorded compositions

Title

Genre

Lyricist

Recording

Feelin’ Low

blues

-

GK, 1936

Short Story

foxtrot

-

GK, 1936

Full Moon’s Music

blues

-

JJ, 1936

Noisy Serenade

foxtrot

-

JJ, 1936

Blázinec

swing foxtrot

-

Harden, 1938

Pronásleduje mě melodie

swing foxtrot

-

Blue Music, 1939

Melodie Jiřího Traxlera

various

Kozel

Zemánková/Sestry Allanovy/Dvorský, MB, 1940

Refrény Jiřího Traxlera

various

Kozel

Vincíková/Sestry Allanovy/Dvorský, MB 1941

Konec týdne

foxtrot

-

KV, 1944 (from the film Sobota)

Klavírní směs Jiřího Traxlera

various

-

Traxler, 1944

Nám to nevadí

slow foxtrot

Traxler

Cortés, KV, 1949

Bílé mraky

slow foxtrot

Traxler

Salačová, KV, 1949

A přece tě mám ráda

foxtrot

Traxler

Sestry Allanovy, KV, 1949

Writings

  • Já nic, já muzikant . . . na penzi: Literární etudy jazzového mohykána [I’m nothing, just a musician . . . on a pension: literary studies of a jazz Mohican] (Edmonton, 2008)

Bibliography

  • I. Poledňák: ‘Bod kristalizace’ [The point of crystallization], Taneční hudba a jazz 1963, 4–13
  • L. Dorůžka and I. Poledňák: Československý Jazz: minulost a přítomnost [Czechoslovak jazz: past and present] (Prague, 1967)
  • J. Kotek: Kronika české synkopy: půlstoletí českého jazzu a moderní populární hudby v obrazech a svědectví současníků [The chronicle of Czech syncopation: a half-century of jazz and modern popular music in pictures and contemporary witness accounts], vol.1: 1903–1938 (Prague, 1975); vol.2: 1939–61 (Prague, 1990)
  • K. Běhounek: Má láska je jazz [Jazz is my love] (Toronto, 1986)
  • J. Kotek: O české populární hudbě a jejích posluchačích: Od historie k současnosti [On Czech popular music and its listeners: from history to the present] (Prague, 1990)
  • V. Bittner: R.A. Dvorský: král české taneční hudby [R.A. Dvorský: the king of Czech dance music] (Prague, 1998)
  • J. Kotek: Dějiny české populární hudby a zpěvu [The history of Czech popular music and song], vol.2: 1918–1968 (Prague, 1998)
  • L. Dorůžka and M. Ducháč: Karel Vlach: 50 let života s hudbou [Karel Vlach: 50 years of life with music] (Prague, 2003)
  • O. Suchý: Inka Zemánková: Dívka k rytmu zrozená [Inka Zemánková: the girl born to rhythm] (Prague, 2006)
  • O. Havelka: Poslední mohykán [The last of the Mohicans], television documentary biography of Traxler. Česká Televize, 2009.
  • P. Koura: Swingová mládež a nacistická okupační moc v protektorátu Čechy a Morava [Swing youth and the Nazi occupational forces in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia] (diss., Prague U., 2010)