This is one of those instances where I have almost literally been waiting a year to celebrate these two Valinka-related anniversaries, the first of which goes nearly back to the beginning of Valinka’s recording career in 1969 and the second of which is now exactly on a whole decade, going four thereof into the past. It is also a case – in the instance of the latter – of it being decidedly fitting that I should have chosen to mark these anniversaries in Valinka’s native Hungarian.
Taking the former anniversary, on 31st December 1969 Valinka recorded her second single…and last in the embryonic stage of her career on the Panton label, before her move to the wider horizons of Supraphon, ‘Když mě chceš’ (‘When You Want Me’) and ‘Proč se ti zdá’ (‘Why Does It Appear To You’). For details of the composition and recording credits and to play the songs, please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page.
Both songs demonstrate that the young (seventeen-year-old) Valinka was taking a huge load of Jazz and Swing and a commensurately huge load of Soul, stirring them together and making pure musical magic. The yelp of unbridled youthful pleasure that Valinka lets out during ‘Proč se ti zdá’ is one of the moments in her whole recording career and shows that, despite the increasingly difficult times that Czechoslovakia was beginning to endure politically in the aftermath of the collapse of the Prague Spring and with the clamp-down of ‘Normalizace’ (‘Normalisation’) just around the corner, on a personal level life was about as good as it gets and Valinka must have not been able to wait for the 1970s to get under way – the decade during which, I think, in terms of the female Pop Singers of that era in that country, she would go on to be the pre-eminent, all-conquering ‘Voice’.
Taking the latter, fortieth, anniversary here is an opportunity to sing the praises of one of the masters of television in Czechoslovakia – Ján Roháč, who was the creative genius behind the gathering, on 31st December 1977, of stars of all branches of the entertainment business in the Czechoslovakia of the time, ‘Silvestr na přání aneb Čí jsou hory Kavčí?’ (‘New Year’s Eve On Request Or Whose Are The Kavčí Hory?’) – the ‘Kavčí Hory’ in question being the HQ of the TV of the Czech portion of Czechoslovakia. This was TV which was widescreen in scope and was clearly the equal of what equivalent might have been on British TV at the time. The Master Of Ceremonies for this televisual masterpiece was the celebrated actor (mostly, but not exclusively, in roles of a comedic nature) Vladimír Menšík, well-known, so it would appear, to have quite a soft spot for Valinka, so it was his great pleasure to introduce Valinka for her rendition – dressed in a striking outfit complete with silver platform boots – of ‘Rock and roller’ – originally by the Hungarian star, Kati Kovács – before which Valinka had explained the Hungarian lyrics to Vladimír, to much comic effect!
I often wonder how well-known it was amongst the general public of Czechoslovakia at the time that Valinka’s first language was neither Czech nor Slovak, but Hungarian. Certainly, her first-class singing in Czech for her records would not have given the game away. If it was not well-known this must have been quite a ‘coming out’ moment – ‘coming out’ as Hungarian-speaking, that is.
Valinka – loud, proud, Hungarian!