Festival at Antonin Dvorak's birthplace part of 100th anniversary celebrations


Regular listeners will know this is the Year of Czech Music. One of the highlights of the year will be celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of perhaps the most famous Czech composer of all, Antonin Dvorak. The anniversary falls on May 1, though events are already taking place, among them the Dvorak Nelahozeves Festival, which got underway recently. David Vaughan spoke to Jakub Puchalsky from Unilever, one of the sponsors of the festival, and asked him why it was being held in the small town of Nelahozeves, just north of Prague.

"Because Nelahozeves is a place where young Antonin Dvorak spent many years as a kid. He was raised there and many moments from his childhood are connected with this particular place."

The house he was born in actually still stand in Nelahozeves, doesn't it?

"Yes it does, it's still available for visitors and I think one of the events of the festival will be guiding people around all the places connected with Antonin Dvorak; this house will be part of that trip."

Nelahozeves is just a little village but it's also got a castle. Will the concerts be going on in the castle, and in the village?

The house where Dvorak was bornThe house where Dvorak was born "Absolutely, I think the majority of concerts, of events, will be running there. Other events will be running in Prague. So we're combining the traditional place of Nelahozeves and the centre of music, which is Prague, in this festival."

Looking at the programme I can see that many of the performers, the orchestras, the ensembles, aren't necessarily professional performers - some of them are very young, so it isn't a question of getting together the greatest, the best known orchestras, is it?

"Absolutely, there are some amateurs but playing at a very high level, performing at a very high level. It's another difference from other festivals, that we are putting together people who are unlikely to meet events of such a kind."

If you'd like to know more about the Dvorak festival, which runs until October, you can go to the website www.bdiscovery.org