Jakub Jan Ryba

By Alena Skodova

If you play this music to any Czech person, he will definitely recognize the piece. And - it will remind him of Christmas, as it's a well-known Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba - this week's personality in Czechs in History.

Jakub Jan Ryba was born in 1765 in the village of Prestice in Western Bohemia to a village teacher's family. Their house resounded with music all the time and little Jakub - when he saw his father writing notes - tried to imitate him. He covered sheets of paper with black dots. He started playing organ at the age of four, and his talent made his uncle, a priest and an outstanding tenor, take his nephew to Prague to further his education. Young Ryba studied at a secondary school, and - as we hear from associate professor Jarmila Gabrielova from the Philosophical Faculty at Charles University - he acquired a good education in Prague, but left the capital to live elsewhere...