Musical education in the Augustinian monastery
Music director of the Old Brno Basilica
Lived in a house in the centre of Klášterní (now Mendel) Square
Most of Janáček’s life is very closely related to Old Brno
Leoš Janáček moved to Brno in 1865. His father wanted to provide a good musical education for his son, so he sent him to the music foundation run by the Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas in Staré Brno (Old Brno). Musically talented boys from poor families accepted into the foundation were called ‘modráčci’ (bluebirds) after the light blue suits they wore.
A number of prominent men were active in the Abbey at the time, including the composer Pavel Křížkovský and Gregor Johann Mendel, who established the fundamental laws of inheritance. Janáček later acted as a deputy music director in the basilica under Křížkovský. Janáček lived in Old Brno until 1910, when he was 56 years old. In Old Brno, he attended both elementary and grammar school and worked as a teacher, and after marrying Zdenka he lived in a block of flats in the middle of what is now Mendlovo náměstí (Mendel Square). His son Vladimír (1888–1890) was born and also died there at only two years old, and his beloved daughter Olga (1882–1903) died there at the age of 21.
Janáček’s stay at the abbey is commemorated by a memorial plaque by Jiří Marek located in a courtyard there (in Czech, rumpálové nádvoří). The plaque depicts organ pipes with a relief of the heads of four singing boys, under which is a text in black that reads: ‘Leoš Janáček grew up in the Old Brno Abbey from 1865.’