The Art Nouveau Hotel Slavia was opened in 1899 by the patriot Karel Moravec, and this Czech enterprise quickly became the celebrated centre of Czech cultural life. In the National Café on the first floor, visitors had access to a great number of Czech publications, important Czech figures met here, as well as the members of various Czech societies, for example, National Unity, the Society of Czech Travelling Salesmen and the Skiers' Association (whose chairman was the writer Jiří Mahen). Leoš Janáček also visited the Hotel Slavia for the meetings of the Russian Circle, of which he was co-founder and an enthusiastic member. Other active society members included Janáček's daughter, Olga, and the bookseller Josef Barvič. Janáček found inspiration for his numerous works in Russian literature, such as the orchestral rhapsody Taras Bulba or the operas Katya Kabanova and From the House of the Dead.
Some Russian - a magician approached me yesterday and pleaded for a recommendation. He's doing badly. Please be so kind as to write a recommendation saying that he has performed for the Russian Circle and the whole group was greatly entertained. For the signature of the recommendation just write "The Russian Circle in Brno".
From a letter from Leoš Janáček to Vladimír Zach, director of the postal service in Brno who was on the committee of the Russian Circle (no date)