Tramping is a phenomenon that influenced the lives of tens of thousands of Czechs. Young people who dreamed of the freedom of the Wild West, spent time outdoors, engaging in sporting activities, building log cabins and settlements. The birth of tramping is in fact linked to the tramp settlement Lost Hope near Svatojánské proudy (one of the most picturesque stretches of the Vltava River) in 1918.
The legendary Czech folk singer Wabi Daněk died last week at the age of 70. In the course of a career spanning close to half a century he composed over 100 songs, recorded over a dozen CDs and performed at thousands of concerts and festivals. His biggest hit Rosa na kolejích (Dew on the Tracks) recorded in 1970 became a staple around Czech campfires and a radio evergreen.
The Czech Republic's biggest festival of country and folk music, Porta, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Established in 1967 by a group of music enthusiasts, the festival gradually evolved into one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, attracting some 30,000 visitors in its heydey. Many of the country’s respected musicians and bands, including Spirituál kvintet, Wabi Daněk or the Nedvěd brothers, started their careers there. Last week, Porta launched the first of a series of concerts marking its special anniversary.
Ever since the publication of the first Czech translation of Longfellow’s Hiawatha in the 1860s, Czechs have had a special affection for the American West. This was always more than just a fantasy about the space and freedom of the open plains; for many Czechs, after centuries under Austrian rule, there was also a somewhat romanticized sense of identity with the fate of Native Americans at the hands of white settlers. So it is not surprising that when scouting gained popularity at the time of the First Czechoslovak Republic, it took on many symbols
This summer, hundreds of thousands of Czechs have spent regular weekends and longer vacations at their chata (cabin) or chalupa (cottage) in the country. Such second homes are a deeply embedded aspect of Czech life. But what are the roots of the tradition? And how has Czechs’ relationship to their country house changed since the fall of communism? I discussed these questions and more with a leading expert in the field, Dr. Jiří Vágner of the Geography of Leisure Research Centre at the Faculty of Science at Prague’s Charles University.
A new Czech documentary called Amerika, which has recently premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Festival, explores the unique Czech pastime known as tramping, inspired in part by the vision of the American Wild West. But instead of providing a detailed description of the movement, the film takes its viewers on a journey through the Czech countryside, giving them an opportunity to experience the emotions one feels when wandering through the landscape. We have more in this week’s edition of In Focus.
In today’s music programme, we’ll be looking back at the life and times of folksinger and writer Josef Peterka, better known under the name of Bob Hurikán. Born in Prague in 1907 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hurikán became one of the main proponents of the ‘tramping’ movement in Bohemia (or trempink as it is also known) – more than a pastime but even a way of life combining a love of scouting, woodcraft and the American Wild West.
Last week the Czech National Museum launched a new exhibition called New Czech Fables (or New Czech Myths) at the Kinský summer palace, located at the edge of Prague’s Petřín Hill. The show examines urban legends, sayings, social rituals and counter-culture movements in the former Czechoslovakia as well as present-day Czech Republic. In this week’s Arts, Radio Prague takes a closer look.