When I was in middle school, I started playing in the school band. I had been a rockstar on recorder in elementary school (as much a "rockstar" as anyone can be on recorder), and I wanted to continue my musical pursuits into sixth grade.
My first choice for an instrument was violin. I had been fascinated by it for as long as I could remember. The first music class I remember was in kindergarten, and we learned all of the instruments' names and sounds. Of course, being a "Disney" kid, I had already known most of them thanks to the movie "Fantasia," but that didn't matter. I had decided the violin was my favorite.
Well, we didn't have a strings program (yet) at my school, so violin wasn't an option. I went with my second favorite instead. I decided to learn flute.
|My sixth grade school photo. We were supposed to bring something that was |
important to us to have in our photo with us. I brought my flute, and I dressed in my concert band shirt.
Personal Collection of Brittany Jenkins
That was it. That was all she said. She didn't say who. She didn't say what kind of music. She didn't say what instrument. Just "virtuoso." It was several years before I found out who he was.
|A pamphlet or brochure about Josef|
Found in the University of Iowa Digital Archives
While I'm unsure when Josef first started playing the violin, it is clear that he studied with Bohemian instructors. Otakar Sevcik, who was a professor at the Vienna Imperial Conservatory, is the man most associated with being Josef's tutor. This leads me to believe he started learning violin before he immigrated to America.
|Clipping from Perry NY Herald, issue dated 3 December 1913|
Sometime before the 1930 census, he married his pianist, Mary A. Tris. They stayed in Illinois through the 1940 census. I'm not sure what really happened to them after WWII (though I do see them in a couple of city directories in Illinois up until 1950), but I find Josef listed in the California Death Index in 1976.
I don't think Josef and Mary had any children, but I am still investigating their lives as a married couple, so it is still possible.
|Taken from Josef's 1920 passport renewal application|
- 1900 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
- 1930 Maywood, Cook County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
- 1940 Creve Coeur, Tazewell County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
- "Baraca Enterainment Course: Josef Konecny & Company," 3 December 1913, Perry NY Herald, Perry, New York (accessed on Chronicling America)
- Josef Konecny brochure (accessed at Iowa Digital Library)
- "Josef Konecny: The Bohemian Violin Virtuoso," 29 September 1920, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Wisconsin (accessed on Chronicling America)
- Passport applications and renewal applications (accessed on Ancestry)