1956 – 39th Segment: “Once-Twice”

Photo: Supraphon

In this series we present 100 songs which have gone down in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. On Czech Radio’s web pages you can find a poll, in which you can vote for the best hit from the past century. We look forward to your vote! We continue with the year 1956.


In July, the Moravia Karst landscape was declared to be a protected nature reserve.

On September 15th, the company Sazka was founded.

October 23rd – November 4th/November 10th, the Hungarian Uprising ended with a bloody Soviet invasion.

There is an old saying that “when two people argue, a third one laughs.” A similar situation occurred in relation to Czech music in February of 1948. On the one hand, there was an onslaught of new songs. On the other hand, everything influenced by swing or jazz was denounced by the Communist Party. Who was the laughing third party? It was, of course, the traditional brass and string bands and their folk songs.

Photo: Supraphon
Although important government officials did not really care about folk music, even the brass bands faced objections from the press over some of their lyrics. This did not matter to the high and low ranking communist comrades who gladly danced or listened to them at the mandatory parades on May 1st.

Today we will focus on dance repertoire. Starting in 1956 the polka “Once-Twice” by the well-known composer Jaromír Vejvoda and writer Ladislav Jacura sold 140 thousand records.

It was thought that the title meant to express the complaints of a discarded lover who wished to wait for his love, and cried for her, but then left her out of spite. However, according to the authors, the name had a different origin. Supposedly, when buying tram tickets one of the authors was asked: “Once? Twice?” The idea suddenly took hold, and we can only wonder how it could have inspired such a successful hit.

Vote for the best song of the century!