The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague – the Czech Republic’s largest arts school – was established by a presidential constitutive decree immediately after the end of World War II. During the seventy years of its existence, it has been responsible for training dozens of prominent personalities of world renown.
Following a demanding reconstruction, academic premises in the baroque “U Bílého jelena” house are made accessible. AMU also changes its visual style to a modern, dynamic design by the graphic studio Heyduk, Musil & Strnad.
AMU celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding. Several honorary doctorates are conferred during the festivities, as are AMU Gold Medals to screenwriter and director Vojtěch Jasný and to actor and pedagogue Ladislav Mrkvička.
The AMU Gallery (GAMU) launches its operations under the auspices of the school.
The FAMU Center for Audiovisual Studies (CAS) is created by merging the Department of Social Sciences and the Department of the History and Theory of Photography. In February 2002, the Academy establishes the AMU Publishing House (NAMU) as an information facility providing publishing and editorial services to all AMU faculties and constituent units.
The DISK Theatre, located in the Theatre Faculty building between Řetězová and Karlova Streets, launches its activities one year after the premises were approved for use. AMU becomes part of the ERASMUS student and staff mobility programme.
The Theatre Faculty organises the first Zlomvaz student theatre festival.
The seat of the Music and Dance Faculty becomes the newly reconstructed Liechtenstein Palace, and two years later is expanded to Hartigovský Palace, forming a connected complex. In this year, the Theatre Faculty must vacate the original premises of the DISK Theatre in Unitaria Palace, and the school theatre is temporarily located in Divadlo v Celetné.
Students become actively involved in the strike at DAMU and thus participate in the fall of Communism in then-Czechoslovakia. The period after the Velvet Revolution sees an upswing in international relations and in cooperation among university-level arts schools. After the fall of the Communist regime, prominent film professionals such as Jiří Menzel, Olga Sommerová, Věra Chytilová, Jan Němec and Jan Špáta become FAMU pedagogues. One year later, the Department of Animation is established at FAMU. In 1993, Music Theory becomes an independent academic field at HAMU, although it has been taught at the school since the early 1970s. At the Theatre Faculty, the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre is fully developed under the leadership of director Josef Krofta and other prominent artists.
The Theatre Faculty stagnated during Normalisation, and progress towards its original objectives could be resumed in a more systematic manner only from the mid-1980s onwards, when new pedagogues such as Jana Hlaváčová, Věra Galatíková, Boris Rösner, Eva Salzmannová, Svatopluk Skopal and other artists began to participate in defining a new direction and academic system. FAMU organises the FAMUFEST festival for the first time.
The Department of Artistic Photography is established at FAMU, becoming independent from the Department of Camerawork. There is a relaxing of the regime in the second half of the 1970s, and, under the leadership of then-Dean Ilja Bojanovský, students are able to participate in international meetings and to renew the faculty’s significance on the international stage.
Following the Soviet intervention, a range of prominent FAMU pedagogues (Evald Schorm, Karel Kachyňa, Břetislav Pojar, Milan Kundera and others) are forced to discontinue their pedagogical activities. Censorship is applied frequently and the school struggles with a range of restrictions.
The independent Department of Opinion Journalism (today the Department of Documentary Filmmaking) is established at FAMU. In 1963, the field of film and television editing is constituted, and film and television science becomes an independent field. During the 1960s, FAMU graduates two to three generations of artists, thanks to whom it would become world renown.
The FAMU departments and Dean’s Office move to Lažanský Palace, and the AMU Rector’s Office moves to the Smetanovo nábřeží waterfront as well. In the 1960s, HAMU expands its offering of fields (harpsichord, guitar), the dance fields are transferred from the Theatre Faculty, and the field of nonverbal theatre (originally pantomime) is established.
During these years, Otakar Vávra arrives at FAMU’s Department of Directing with a new conception of lectures and the admissions process. He personally selects applicants from among whom he trains the core of the so-called Czechoslovak New Wave (Věra Chytilová, Evald Schorm, Jiří Menzel, Jan Schmidt, Miloš Forman and many others).
FAMU becomes one of the founding members of the International Association of Film and Television Schools (CILECT). During the 1950s, new specialisations in documentary and popular-science film are established, as are the editing section and the Department of Film and Television Technology with its music and sound section.
FAMU’s original fields gradually become departments. One year later, the Department of Production is created and a film science specialisation is created as part of Dramaturgy. HAMU launches programmes in trumpet and trombone. Theory of Theatre and Dramaturgy are established as well, although unfortunately their development is affected by totalitarian ideology. Starting in 1960, instruction returns to the Philosophical Faculty at Charles University.
FAMU acquires premises in the so-called Vančura House in Klimentská Street No. 4, where instruction takes place until 1960. After just two years of operation, the Music Faculty is subjected to a wave of repressive inspections as a result of the 1948 Communist coup d'état, and certain renowned professors (Václav Talich, Bedřich Dobrodinský) are forced to leave. In this turbulent period, the Theatre Faculty stagnates as well, and even founders Miroslav Haller, Jiří Frejka and Jiří Plachý are forced to discontinue their teaching activities. Of the original pedagogues, only František Tröster remains, to whom credit is due for the unprecedented expansion of stage design in post-war Czechoslovakia.
As part of the school, a film division is opened in the second storey of the building in Havlíčkova Street No. 13 and offers the fields of directing, dramaturgy and the film image to students. It is the world’s fifth film school – after Moscow, Berlin, Rome and Paris. The following fields are established at HAMU: voice, piano, organ, the instruments of a string quartet, double bass, harp, and the instruments of a wind quintet. The Theatre Faculty is significantly shaped by the influence of Jiří Frejka, František Tröster, Josef Träger, František Salzer and Miroslav Haller, and the fields of directing, dramaturgy and stage design are opened; in 1948 the field of acting is added, and the DISK Theatre is established in Unitaria Palace in Karlova Street No. 8.
The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague is established by decree of President Edvard Beneš on 27 October 1945 as a new university of a hitherto uncommon type that would provide university-level education in artistic disciplines that had not previously been offered in the Czech lands.