In Tomášek’s Bohemia, two ethnic groups—Germans and Czechs—lived side by side, with Germans generally of higher social rank than Czechs. Tomášek, whatever the importance of his Austrian and German affiliations, was an ardent Czech patriot, and specifically Czech themes, texts and historical events peer out on occasion from his songs. Even before meeting Tomášek in person, Goethe was interested in him because of his Six Bohemian songs
, settings of poetry taken from a literary hoax organized by one Václav Hanka, a philologist who founded a society for the cultivation of the Czech language. In 1817, Hanka claimed to have discovered manuscripts of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Bohemian poetry in the town of Königinhof an der Elbe and, later, still more at Castle Grünberg near Nepomuk. These ‘medieval’ Czech poems were almost certainly written by the novelist and poet Josef Linda (1789–1834) and the translator and linguist Josef Jungmann (1773–1847), the latter a leading figure in the Czech National Revival. Despite heated polemics about the authenticity of the manuscripts almost from the start, the forgery was not fully exposed until 1886; some two centuries on, it is hard to see how anyone could have thought these texts to be products of the Middle Ages.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2015