The Besední dům is one of the most important buildings in Brno’s historic center. This cultural shrine was, among other things, the workplace of extraordinary composer and conductor Leoš Janáček. The Janáček name draws to Brno admirers of his music from around the world.
The Besední dům: history
The Besední dům (roughly translatable as Community Hall) was constructed according to a design by Theophil von Hansen in 1871 – 1873. It became part of the town’s history as a social and cultural center for Czech urban society. The building was first used as a multi-purpose center for social gatherings, music, theater, education, political events, and physical fitness, and at one time or another housed schools, publishers, a savings bank, reading clubs, and a fine restaurant.
Over the course of time it became a center for music, thanks to the Beseda brněnská choir and its music school. The building’s lovely main hall served mainly for chamber concerts: for a brief time after the Second World War some of the top names in world music passed through its doors. The 1950s brought great changes. The traditional municipal associations were broken up, and music ensembles were forced to seek other venues. The year 1953 was the dark age in the history of the Besední dům, when it was given to the military and became the District Army Center. After the wave of militarism faded, in 1957 the Philharmonic moved back in, along with the secretariat of the artistic unions, the publisher Host do domu, and the Regional Concert Agency. The Brno Philharmonic had to move out one more time, in 1989, when the stability of the building was threatened by shifting foundations.
The new reconstruction of the Besední dům returned to it much of its historic charm, and today provides previously-unsurpassed surroundings for the Brno Philharmonic, which moved back in 1995.