In Liptovský Mikuláš the book release event was held at the Museum of Janko Kráľ where it coincided with the opening of an exhibit on the Pálka family. It snowed heavily that evening but the room was packed. A local jazz octet played several songs composed by my uncle Dušan Pálka, one of Czechoslovakia’s favorite composers of popular music during the period of the 1930s through the 1970s. It was a good thing that we had a big supply of books!
In Bratislava the event was held at the Pálffy Palace, a small 17th century palace rescued from collapse by my cousin Karol Pavlů and now one of the city’s favorite arts venues. The splendid choir Cantus movingly performed religious and national songs, opening with a setting of the Lord’s Prayer, continuing with Slovak folks songs and American Negro spirituals, and closing with Aká si mi krásna, ty rodná zem moja (How Beautiful You Are, O land of My Birth). This is one of Slovakia’s best loved hymns; its text was written by my great-granduncle Peter Bella-Horal. Many people had tears in their eyes. The book sold out, and we had to provide extra copies from the family’s private supply.
In Prague the book release event was hosted by the Slovak Institute and co-sponsored by the Štefánik Society and the Slovak Historical Association. Prague sparkled in the freshly fallen snow, the room was filled, and once again my uncle Dušan’s songs delighted the audience. Every copy of the book sold and we wished we had had more!