In Memoriam PhDr. Michaela Freemanová, Ph.D.

       21. 11. 1946 – 15. 6. 2017

michaela freemanov fotoI met Michaela – or "Míša" as she preferred to be called – Freemanová, then Kopecká, for the first time some fifty years ago, and remained since then, until her last days, in more or less regular professional and personal contact. In my brief recollection, I can therefore use a somewhat more personal tone than would be suitable for an official 'In memoriam' text.

We met for the first time at the beginning of October 1967, when we commenced, together with several other colleagues, our musicology studies at the Department of music history of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, which was located these days in the ground floor of the Faculty of nuclear physics of the Czech Technical University in Břehová street No. 7.  By coincidence, it was only me and Míša, who were successful to pass all exams and to finish the study in the regular term of five years, so we also met at the beginning of July 1972 at the graduation ceremony at the Carolinum (the main Prague university building).

During her study of musicology, Míša visited, together with me, the seminar of professor (then, "only" the assistent professor) Ivan Vojtěch, devoted to music in Bohemia in the first half of the 19th century. The seminar focused on the problem of the musical setting of the Czech language and the so-called "correct Czech declamation" in the vocal music of that period and, at the same time, on the situation in which, at the turn of the 1840s and 1850s, the young Bedřich Smetana started his career.  Míša's successfully defended her master theses, with the title "Relationship between the word and music in lyrical parts of František Škroup's stage works and cabaret songs", which was developed in this seminar.

After 1972, Míša worked in the publishing house Supraphon for some time and after that in later at the Czech Music Museum in Prague. She soon turned her research interest to the area of "early music" and its authentic historical interpretation, which was in Czechoslovakia at just the very onset. She was supported in her interest by her husband David Freeman, with whom Míša developed an almost ideal partnership and professional relationship, and to whom she later devotedly and faithfully stood during his long serious illness.

After 1989, Míša worked briefly as organiser of music activities at the Prague Castle and then, for many years, as organiser and program director of Haydn music festivities in the Plzeň region and of the Music summer at the Castle Kuks in East Bohemia. From 2002 until the end of May 2017, she was member of the research team at the Department of music history (branch of the Ethnological Institute) of the Czech Academy of Sciences (originally Institut of musicology of the Czech Academy of Sciences). During these last years, she decided to complete her professional qualification and enrolled to the doctoral program at the Faculty of Arts at the Charles University, where she graduated 2013 with her doctoral theses Fratrum misericordiae artis musicae collectiones in Bohemia et Moravia reservatae that was published in the same year by the National library of the Czech Republic.  It was, again by coincidence, myself, who took during her study the role – of course only formally – of her supervisor.

Our personal contact developed particularly during her last years. She helped me immensely in 2014, drove with me several times to my parental home in Jaroměř, that had to be cleared, to bring some books and valuables to my Prague home. We use the opportunity and undertook during these beautiful summer days several happy trips to East Bohemia and the nearby Kladsko (Glatz) region, promising to each other that we return back some day. Alas, this day will no more come ...

Jarmila Gabrielová

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