Did the outnumbered Hussites defeat the crusaders at the Battle of Domažlice by singing? Modern-day historians are sceptical. But for František Palacký, Alois Jirásek and other Czech historians and writers of the Czech National Revival movement, the answer was clear. Their argument was Ktož jsú boží bojovníci, the choral Hussite fighting anthem (which translates from Old Czech as “Ye Who Are Warriors of God”), featured in this edition of the Best of Czech Classical Music.
Czech classical music is not only a part of national culture and history, but also of the nation’s soul. This year we have prepared a series on the renowned hits of Czech classical music. You will be familiar with many of them, as they are widely known and regularly performed in concert halls all over the world. The background to their creation and how they were recorded will all be covered by this series in the coming weeks.
As Czechs marked the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the return of freedom to the country, streets and squares resounded with the iconic protest songs linked to the Prague Spring and 1989. Songs reflecting people’s hopes in 1968 and the frustration of Czechs following the crushing of the Prague Spring became underground cult hits, going from hand to hand, recorded on the old cassette recorders and played in the privacy of people’s homes. Among them are Karel Kryl’s famous Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Keep the Gate Closed, Little Brother)composed
An exhibition mapping the famous foreign productions of The Bartered Bride, perhaps the most popular Czech opera, gets underway at the Bedřich Smetana Museum in Prague this week. It traces the opera’s journey from its first production abroad, in St Petersburg, across leading opera houses all over the world.
The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted by
the secret police in the 1970s, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a
concert at Prague’s Akropolis Palace on December 1.
Unable to perform openly, the band was forced underground and became a focal and rallying point for dissidents, most famously Václav Havel.
It was partly in protest over the Plastics’ prosecution that then playwright Havel and others formed the Charter 77 human rights initiative.
The 1968 protest song Prayer for Marta, by Jindřich Brabec a Petr Rada,
made famous by singer Marta Kubišová, has won Czech Radio’s Hit of the
The winner was announced at a concert on Old Town Square marking the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia at which Czech and Slovaks pop singers and bands performed the most popular songs of the past century.
Česká písnička by Karel Hašler placed second and Škoda lásky, the famous beer barrel polka by Jaromír Vejvoda, came third.
The biggest public event marking the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia was a concert that filled Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Tuesday evening. The culmination of the free show came with Marta Kubišová’s rendition of A Prayer for Marta, a song that came to symbolise the 1968 invasion.
An annual international opera festival celebrating the works of Bedřich Smetana – perhaps the most famous Czech composers of all time – kicks off on Thursday in the eastern Bohemian town of his birth. Now in its 60th year, the "Smetana’s Litomyšl" festival is a paradise for classical music lovers but also features everything from jazz to folk.