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Jiří Šlitr


Jiří Šlitr (1924-1969) is etched in the audience’s memory primarily as Jiří Suchý’s inseparable partner in the Semafor theatre. However, he was also an accomplished pianist, composer, singer, designer, as well as a law graduate (a career path he never pursued). In 1948, with a group of students he formed the Czechoslovak Dixieland Jazz Band with which he also introduced himself in Prague within the Jazz Days at the E. F. Burian Theatre. During his military service he composed music to Pavel Kopta’s texts, his first authorial outputs. At the beginning of the 1950s Jiří Šlitr worked as a designer, accompanied on piano a cycle of projections of old silent films and later on, as a pianist and composer, began collaborating with Miroslav Horníček on his entertainment cycles (e.g., Humor není pro legraci (Humour Is Not For Fun), Člověk mezi lidmi (A Human Among Humans)). It was Miroslav Horníček who introduced Jiří Šlitr to Jiří Suchý and who later on collaborated with their Semafor theatre on a regular basis. In 1959 Jiří Šlitr, the poet Jiří Suchý and the musician Ferdinand Havlík founded the Semafor theatre. Alongside his activities at the Semafor theatre, Jiří Šlitr also remained faithful to his other “vocations” – designer, pianist and composer. He displayed his works at several exhibitions both in Czechoslovakia and abroad (including New York) and also illustrated books. Extremely successful was his collaboration with the Laterna magika theatre with which, as a pianist, he made a host of foreign tours, performing, for example, in Vienna, London, Poland and, most famously, in Brussels at the EXPO 58 world exhibition.