Frantíšek Purkrábek was one of the first Czech tenors on record; he made almost 100
solo recordings between 1901 and 1911, many of them in Germany under the name "Franz Burkraf". There is some confusion about
both his Czech name (Czech references call him "Pulkrábek, sometimes also written Purkrábek") and his German
alias: on Historical Tenors, he used to figure as otherwise unheard-of "Paul Burkrat", since the below 78rpm transfer from Trovatore
had been circulating among collectors for so many years that at some point, the name that had been on the original disc's label
must have been spoiled. By comparison with the Purkrábek/Burkraf recording of Di quella pira on the elusive
Globos label that is in the fantastic collection of the SLUB Dresden library, it's definitely the same singer (he uses a unique
version of the aria, composed of half of the first verse, followed by the complete second verse) – but a different
recording, so it must be one of the two versions that he made for equally elusive labels, either Star/Triumphon or Neophone.
There is no evidence that Purkrábek ever sang on stage; it seems that he was a record tenor, and appeared in public only
as a member of the German "Meistersänger-Quartett", a male quartet founded by Robert Biberti sr. (the operatic bass, not
his son Robert jr. who was the bass of the legendary "Comedian Harmonists"), with which Purkábek made another 75 German
Reference 1: SLUB Dresden; reference 2: Gabriel
Gössel/Filip Šir, Recorded sound in Czech lands 1900–1946, Brno 2016; reference 3; reference 4: Gabriel Gössel, The Czech Republic's national anthem
down the ages, Praha 2008
I wish to thank Georges Cardol for the recording.
I wish to thank Anton Bieber for the recordings and label scans (Prodaná nevěsta, Jenom ty mně).