Anton Fabian Collection
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Name of collection
- Anton Fabian Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
As a Catholic priest, Anton Fabian used to collect samizdat books and brochures on religious and spiritual topics. He used to lend these to the young people whom he, as their spiritual father, had been shaping since 1973. In creating gospel albums, he collaborated with priest Július Chalupa. In 1983, they managed to purchase a top-notch Japanese reel-to-reel tape recorder with a speed of 19 cm/s from private funds. However, their first recordings were of very poor quality. In early 1984, along with his brother, electrical engineer Ing. Jaroslav Fabian, Anton Fabian carried out four projects on tapes with prayers by well-known world authors in the form of speech – prayers with classical music in the background, recorded on LPs. These were audio recordings of novels from world literature God Resisteth the Proud; Poetry as Prayer – a selection from the works of world authors, with poems on spiritual subjects. The tapes were distributed illegally as a spiritual service to the ill. In late 1984, they recorded a tape called The Miracle of Redemption, which contained classic pieces of new hymns – gospel songs and, subsequently, tapes like New People, The World Dreams, It’s Time. The tapes contained recordings of pieces from the illegally published hymnal Praise Lord Jesus and several new songs.
Some of the songs were authored by another Catholic priest, Marcel Šiškovič. The authors of some other songs, e.g. of Fifty Pearls, The Miracle of Redemption, In One Voice, There in Front of Your Countenance, wanted to remain anonymous. This time, they used a Japanese 8-track Fostex studio tape recorder for recording. For this tape recorder, Bishop ThDr. Dominik Kaľata (1925) and Dr. Anton Hlinka (1926 – 2011), Slovak priest, activist, active in exile in Germany, donated a mixer, electronic reverb units and other tape recorders. A mobile studio came into being in the attic of the Hýľov parish, which could be packed up and unpacked when necessary. They produced about a hundred copies of the tape, distributed them to reliable priests, and their further distribution was taken care of by the youth. Musicians from Košice, known as the “Južania” [“Southerners”], made musical arrangements of several prominent authors and performers of gospel music.
Anton Fabian’s activities started at the time of his studies at the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology of Cyril and Methodius, Comenius University in Bratislava in 1968. At the time of the consolidation process, nobody could be sure which students were spies deployed by the National Security and which students were normal ones. From 1868 to 1973, the recordings of the performances from Bratislava and Prague, and the production of song books, were only a secondary activity of the young people and of the theology students. They focused more on organizing meetings and performances of music. Besides a choir, the first gospel band in the seminary was Loving Teenagers (1969) founded by Vlado Koronthály. Its members were Vlado Koronthály, Anton Fabian (Tony), Marian Zajíček (Maroš) and Marcel Šiškovič. They played mostly in St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, in the hall of the university, and in the chapel of the seminary. Side by side with the Loving Teenagers band, a community called Tatran (1970) also existed in the seminary, where the members of the Loving Teenagers and other students used to meet for prayers and discussions. Later, they changed their name to Four in Black. They borrowed the equipment from the Association of the University Students of Slovakia but, when it was banned in the period of normalization, they had to return it and stop their activities in Bratislava. Due to these activities, all the four students – members of the band – were expelled from the seminary (1971).
The external relaxation of the situation due to the birth of the federal republics (Constitutional Act on Czecho-Slovak Federation No. 143/1968 Coll.) came in useful for the underground movement in the Christian and also in the world of arts. They shifted their activities from Bratislava to Prague (1971 – 1972) where they were active in the Church of the Holy Cross and in the Castle District, in Saint John’s Church. In Prague, they presented themselves as the Tatran formation, consisting of Marian Zajíček (keyboard), Marcel Šiškovič (guitar), Martina Kaplanová (flute), Anton Fabian (bass guitar) and Vlado Koronthály (percussion). They had several concerts outside Prague, too, in smaller towns and villages like Sušice, Soběsuky, Roztoky u Prahy and in the seminary in Litoměřice. From the Easter of 1972, the Tatran performed in a new lineup: Vlado Koronthály (bass guitar), Marian Hošek (guitar, both of them originally from the Church Mice band in Bratislava), Martina Kaplanová (flute) and Marcel Šiškovič (guitar).
At this time, they again recorded several songs from the works of Marcel Šiškovič. When they broke up after their ordination, they continued to spread the new songs and genre of Christian music among children and young people. Since Marcel Šiškovič did not receive the approval of the state to work as a priest after his ordination (1974), he worked as an organist in a church in Hlohovec. The activities of the Tatran came to an end in 1976 when Marcel Šiškovič became a chaplain in Zázrivá in the region of Orava.
The existence of their activities, of their studio and their albums became widely known after 1989. However, they were not archived officially. Young people continued in the original, “samizdat” type of distribution of photocopied songs and of editions circulated on separate offprints until 2005.
In that year, the University Pastoral Center of St. Joseph Freinademetz in Bratislava published an anthology of 1,371 songs with lyrics and chords under the title Spievatko: Over 1,200 Songs for the Youth with Chords (UPC, Bratislava 2005). Pavol Kalata (born in 1983), a young Salesian, began to collect and publish these songs also on the Internet (http://www.spievatko.sk). He started a project www.spevnik.saleziani.sk in 2014, collecting the lyrics, chords, notations, and the history of these songs, without any historical limit, in the form of free contributions by anyone and with the support of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia.
Since 1998, selected notation transcriptions of these songs, with a complete piano or organ accompaniment, have been appearing also in the supplement of the Adoramus Te periodical.
All the recordings are now digitalized in MP3 format thanks to the owner of the collection, lyricist and organizer Anton Fabian.
Description of content
- The collection contains recordings and various documents with notes connected to the writing of these hymns, i.e. of gospel music, in Slovakia. The driving force behind all this was Anton Fabian, the author of the songs, who distributed these works in the underground church in Slovakia.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- music recordings: 0-9
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Košice Rooseveltova 14, Slovakia
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Creator(s) of content
- visits by appointments
- Kajanová, Yvetta. Gospel music na Slovensku. Bratislava: Katedra hudobnej vedy Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Komenského, 2009.
Author(s) of this page
- Kajanová, Yvetta
Fabian, Anton , interview by Kajanová, Yvetta , May 12, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection