1951 – 34th Segment: “If I Knew How to Write Poems”

Illustrative photo: Pixabay / CC0

In this series we present 100 songs which have gone down in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. They became widely popular, were played during important time periods, and some even won the hit parade of the year. We continue with the year 1951.


On June 2nd, three communist officials were murdered in Babice. They were most likely StB (Secret Police), used to destroy the church and intimidate believers.

On April 18th, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany signed the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community.

The first half of the 1950’s was not a happy time for Czechoslovak music. While propaganda songs dominated meetings and manifestations, promising heaven on earth, modern work was cast aside. Anything that showed a hint of jazz rhythm was deemed to be morally unacceptable. A few songs, however, still found their way into Czech society as part of theater productions.

After all, the Prague Free Theater (also known as the Liberated Theater) was a pre-war tradition, and the memory of Jaroslav Ježek’s compositions could not be easily erased. The name of one old show from the Prague Free Theater, “Heaven on Earth,” suited the needs of the Communist regime. It also provided a somewhat decent survival opportunity for playwright Jan Werich and his ensemble, including the Vlach Orchestra, which was at that time suspended from radio and recording studios.

Illustrative photo: Pixabay / CC0
The former libretto “Heaven on Earth” had to be customized and adapted to the times. As was Ježek’s music, which did not escape changes and the addition of extra verses. The editing work was undertaken by composer Václav Trojan. And behold! Since the end of 1951 we have a new and very successful song, based on Werich's text, entitled “If I Knew How to Write Poems.”

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