Composer Jaroslav Uhlíř celebrates 75 birthday

Jaroslav Uhlíř, Zdeněk Svěrák, photo: Milan Mošna / Czech Radio

Composer and pianist Jaroslav Uhlíř celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday this week. Over the past half-century, Uhlíř has created several movie soundtracks and children’s songs that have engraved themselves into Czech popular memory and are regularly sung at Czech schools or summer camps. Often, these have been made in collaboration with his long-time friend, actor and songwriter Zdeněk Svěrák.

Born in Prague in 1945, Uhlíř was involved in music from an early age. As a child he sang in the Children’s Choir of Czechoslovak Radio and later in various café dancing groups. He ended up working as a composer for Czechoslovak Radio and it was there that he met Zdeněk Svěrák. The two would strike up a lifelong professional partnership that would result in many a Czech folk song and movie soundtrack, with Uhlíř usually composing the music and Svěrák writing the lyrics.

Most of the best known songs composed and written by the duo Jaroslav Uhlíř and Zdeněk Svěrák were created for films. However, the songs Uhlíř wrote for a long-running popular children's programme on Czech Television called Hodina zpěvu have also garnered fame, as have his compositions written for major Czechoslovak-era signers such as Hana Zagorová and Jiří Schelinger.

At the age of 75 Uhlíř is still active and tours the country with his band. He also performed perhaps the most famous song he created with Zdeněk Svěrák, Není nutno, during the March coronavirus lockdown on Czech Television, in order to boost the country's spirits.