Jan Žďánský, cello graduate, Music and Dance faculty

The trajectories of our life and career journeys can be straightforward, or they can be convoluted, with many sharp turns, nooks and crannies, and detours along the way. The changes and challenges that life has in store for us can be great. What matters most is that they eventually lead to a happy and fulfilled life – and not just in career terms. The following stories of personalities from among AMU graduates illustrate this statement.

Sometimes, all it takes is completing the initial page of your credit book in meticulous handwriting – and it can get you a cool side job as a calligrapher, so that you may end up actually hand-writing your own graduation diploma. Jan Žďánský wrote his own diploma as he was completing his cello studies at HAMU. A member of the Dvořák Piano Quartet and the Recreation Orchestra in Graz, Austria, he has yet another passion besides music. He collects vintage postcards. “Ever since an early age, my handwriting has always been really neat, and I loved mimicking things. I loved forging my parents’ signatures in my school book,” he laughs. The officials at HAMU’s Registrar’s Office noticed his meticulously completed credit book. Later on, when they were seeking a substitute who the person who usually calligraphs names into bachelor’s and master’s diplomas (yes, it was back in the times of handwriting!), they approached Jan. “Being a student, I was really happy for this lovely side job. It’s not easy, though. You really need to give it your attention and care,” he says, adding that no one really teaches calligraphy anymore. “Sometimes, I get asked to handwrite an honorary diploma for someone. For example, I calligraphed the Antonín Dvořák Society diplomas for Sir Charles Mackerras and Jiří Bělohlávek,” he adds. Calligraphy is just a step away from taking interest in old things. This is how Jan got into collecting stamps and vintage postcards. “Vintage postcards are really intriguing collector’s items. What’s more, collecting them doesn’t require as profound a knowledge as philately does,” says Jan who has also collected stamps since childhood. For his postcard collection, he prefers local images. “Old postcards are often the only evidence of what a place or a town looked like a hundred years ago,” he discusses the charm of vintage postcards. What does collecting have in common with music? Both activities can be a lonely pursuit at times. “You spend hours upon hours alone, practicing your instrument. It’s the same as sitting back home and organising your collection,” he says, adding that he knows no other musician who would share his passion for vintage postcards. Matters are different with post stamps. “Composer Miroslav Kabeláč was a huge philatelist, for example. He actually bequeathed his stamp collection to the Postal Museum in Prague. Check it out,” Jan Žďánský advises in conclusion. 

30. August 2023