Czech pop composer and former rock star Karel Svoboda, who scored dozens of films and musicals over four decades, was found dead at his home in Jevany, Czech Republic, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Jan. 28. He was 68.
Best known to his countrymen as the composer of hits for Czech pop star Karel Gott, Svoboda penned the score for the children’s film “Three Nuts for Cinderella” and for the popular 1975 animated series “Maya the Bee.”
Before teaming with Gott in 1968, Svoboda starred in the rock group Mefisto.
In the mid-1990s, he was honored by the label Supraphon for hitting the 10 million sales mark — no mean feat in a country of 10.2 million.
The news of the death of Svoboda, who had four children, including a young daughter, Klara, he lost to leukemia in 2000, has shocked Czech fans. Gott said of his longtime collaborator, “It’s impossible to say anything because it is such a great shock.”
Svoboda had studied dentistry as a young man before catching the rock and pop bug, for which he proved particularly well-suited, winning kudos at fests from Tokyo to Cannes.
After the Velvet Revolution rang in Czech democracy in 1989, Svoboda turned to musicals. More than 1.5 million people saw his hit “Dracula” whose soundtrack sold 250,000 copies. Svoboda’s last major work was the musical “Golem,” which premiered in the Czech capital last year.
He is survived by wife Vendula, a daughter and two sons.