Eva Pilarová, one of the country’s best known jazz singers, is currently celebrating a remarkable 50 years on the stage. Pilarová, whose career is closely linked to the legendary Semafor Theatre, will mark the anniversary with a series of concerts across the Czech Republic, accompanied by a number of younger musicians.
A four-time winner of the Golden Nightingale award, Eva Pilarová has recorded dozens of solo albums over the course of her five-decade career, but her favourite genres have always been jazz and swing. Pilarová was a member of the famous Semafor and Rokoko theatres and has sung with the likes of Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, Waldemar Matuška and Karel Gott. I spoke to the singer this week.
“My career started on September 12 1960, when I first appeared on stage of the Semafor Theatre. In fact, I was first admitted as an actress, but I was really bad. So you could say Semafor was the cornerstone of my career. Afterwards I moved to the Rokoko Theatre together with Waldemar Matuška. I appeared in a number of film musicals, such as ‘Kdyby tisíc klarinetů’, where I sang the famous duet ‘Je nebezpečné dotýkat se hvězd’ with Karel Gott. I also have to mention the film ‘Zločin v šantánu’, which was written by Josef Škvorecký and the role that I played was tailor-made for me.”
After the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, many of Eva Pilarová’s colleagues and friends, such as Waldemar Matuška and Josef Škvorecký, decided to emigrate. Did she ever think of staying abroad?
“Of course I thought about it. But when my son was only three months old, my first husband Milan Pilar, who was a very good orchestra musician, didn’t come back from a trip abroad: he stayed there for good. If my mum had also decided to stay out of the country, I really don’t know how I would have managed.”
Pilarová, who turned 70 last August, still performs with her own band and is currently working on a new CD. An upcoming concert tour of the Czech Republic will, however, mainly feature her old songs:
“I don’t want to present new songs; I want people to hear songs they know. I will definitely sing some swing songs and the very first song I released on a single, which is called ‘Kočka není pes’. And people will of course hear duets that I used to sing with Waldemar Matuška and Karel Gott, only this time I will be accompanied by young musicians.”
The tour to mark half a century of Eva Pilarová’s career will kick off in Liberec in March and see stops in Pardubice, Brno, Ostrava and finally, in Prague.
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