Beatlemania back in Prague as new exhibition opens at Museum of Music

03-06-2010

Good news for Beatles fans – a new exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music opens on Thursday evening featuring the music and the men – the museum’s even borrowed George Harrison’s banjo, one of John Lennon’s shoes, and lots more Beatles memorabilia. The exhibition’s highly interactive however - there’s even a little recording studio where you can try belting out Beatles songs. Earlier we spoke to the exhibition’s curator, Dagmar Fialová.

The BeatlesThe Beatles “The first idea came from the general director of the National Museum [of which the Museum of Music is a part] Michal Lukeš, who thought that it would be nice for the Czech Museum of Music to show that it is not only doing exhibitions and collecting items from the field of classical music, but also popular music as well. So it’s some kind of little revolution for our museum.”

That’s appropriate – the Beatles were popular everywhere of course, but I suppose they mean something special to the people of what was the former communist bloc.

“Yes, basically they were the symbol of the western world behind the Iron Curtain. Young people here in the 1960s were fascinated by the west, and what was happening behind the curtain, and basically the Beatles were the main symbol of it.”

I’ve heard the Beatles were one of the few groups that were actually allowed on the radio and in the shops in communist Czechoslovakia – is that correct?

“Yeah, let’s say more or less, but if you talk about the shops – there were no Beatles recordings available in the shops, it wasn’t possible to buy things from abroad. The first licensed gramophone disc – The Beatles Collection of Oldies But Goldies – wasn’t released in Czechoslovakia until 1969. Up until that point young people had to listen to foreign radio stations like Radio Luxembourg and write down the songs by listening to them, or play them from tapes or magnetophone recordings made from gramophone records brought by somebody from abroad. Until 1969 that was the only possibility how to get hold of Beatles music.”

You’ve been asking people to come forward with any Beatles memorabilia they have at home – what was the response like?

“Quite good, we didn’t expect so much. Basically the exhibition is based on many of these items that people brought to the museum.”

So people have been coming forward with records and Beatles wigs and things like that?

“Yes, and mainly hand-made things which were made during the sixties. When there was nothing available in the shops they made things themselves.”

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03-06-2010