Composer Geraldine Mucha dies aged 95 in Prague
On Friday, Scottish composer Geraldine Mucha passed away in Prague, which has been her home for most of the past 70 years. Author of numerous musical works, large-scale orchestral pieces, variations on folk songs and chamber pieces, Geraldine came to post-war Czechoslovakia with her husband Jiří Mucha, the son of the famous artists Alphonse Mucha. For the past twenty years, she has been the keeper of her father-in-law’s legacy, but her life’s pursuit of music also helped pave the way for female composers of the younger generations.
It was while she was a student during World War II that Gerladine met her future husband, writer and journalist Jiří Mucha, who is the son of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha. Before arriving in Britain, Jiří served briefly in the Czech legion in southern France prior to the Nazi invasion. In an interview she gave to Radio Prague in 2005 Geraldine described how the two first met while looking for a house in Leamington Spa where a party was being held:
"Outside that house there was a young man in a French uniform and he had been invited to a party, and so we decided that this is obviously a party, so we all three went in. So this young man - that's my husband you see, so I say I picked him up in the street! "
Geraldine moved to Prague with Jiří in 1945, making the city her home for most of the next half century.
Indeed, Geraldine’s life in communist Czechoslovakia was not without hardship, often made worse by the so-called bourgeois roots of her husband’s family. Having been forced out of the family house Alphonse Mucha had built in Prague, and soon after facing her husband’s arrest and internment in a uranium mine for almost four years, Geraldine did not regret immigrating to Czechoslovakia. And although she moved to Scotland in the 1970’s for the sake of her husband’s pursuits, the Muchas came back to Prague right after the fall of the communist regime in 1989.
After Jiří Mucha’s death two years later, Geraldine and her son John Mucha continued his work on promoting Alphonse Mucha’s legacy. In 1992, mother and son established the Alphonse Mucha Foundation and a few years later helped found the Mucha Museum in Prague. A large part of the museum’s collection is made up of paintings and items that were preserved in the family home in Prague’s Hradčany. In an interview with Radio Prague two years ago, John Mucha spoke of how his mother courageously defended the family heirlooms from the Czechoslovak secret police:
Geraldine celebrated her 95th birthday this past July, and the last performance of her work took place only a few weeks ago at Prague’s conservatory, where the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra performed some of her compositions from the 1960’s and 70’s. A memorial service for Geraldine Mucha will be held on 22 October in Prague’s Strašnice cemetery.