1945 – 28th Segment: “Beer Barrel Polka”

The liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, photo: ČT

In this series we introduce 100 songs which have gone down in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. They became popular by being played throughout important years and time periods or by winning the hit parade. Now it is up to you, our listeners, to vote for the best Czech song of the century. We continue with the year 1945.

The liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, photo: ČT
Today we will finally remember another king of Czechoslovak folk music. The work of Jaromír Vejvoda, a folk musician and bandleader from Zbraslav, gained more international recognition than any of his Czech counterparts.

When Vejvoda was 27 years old, an interesting melody began to develop in his head. He wrote it down, added a few details, and that marked the birth of the “Polka of Modřany.” Even the Prague Publishing House took an interest in this successful song. The melody also provided an opportunity for a lyricist, who came up with the verse known by all Czechs, “The wasted love which I gave you, today I would cry my eyes out. My youth fled like a dream, only a memory remains in this heart of mine.”

In 1934, Mr. Vejvoda received a royalty of 150 crowns. The lyricist received compensation as well and the polka proceeded to make its way out into the world. It took hold in German speaking countries under the name “Rosamunde,” while in the United States it became known as the “Beer Barrel Polka.”

It was not until the end of the Second World War that the Czechs found out, with great surprise, that Vejvoda’s polka had become so much of an international phenomenon that many other nations had appropriated it as their own. In light of the 1945 victory, “Wasted Love” was played at parties and dances all over the world, thus becoming the most globally well-known Czech melody. Let’s see how many votes it will get in our contest to determine the greatest Czech hit of the past century.