The first two names always given at the top of the pantheon of Czech classical music are Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana; the third is invariably Leoš Janáček. Probably the most innovative of the three, Janáček likely lags behind the famous duo only because even today, 80 years after his death, musicians, musicologists and music lovers are still reassessing those innovations, which took classical music into uncharted territory.
Petr Wagner is the front man of Czech Christian punk group Goro, a presenter on Český rozhlas station Radio Wave, and a Hussite preacher based in Čerčany, near Prague. Ahead of Monday’s national holiday in honour of Saint Wenceslas, I met Petr in a sunny Prague park to ask him what he thought the nation’s patron saint meant to Czechs a millennium after his death:
Divadlo Semafor is an inauspicious theatre in Prague’s Dejvice district, from which, over the past half-century, some of this country’s biggest pop hits have emerged. To honour the output of songwriting duo Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, and the theatre’s 50th birthday, nearly 20 young Czech bands have got together to make an album of cover versions of Semafor songs. Music critic Pavel Klusák is the man behind the project:
The jazz and classical music festival Struny podzimu, or Strings of Autumn, opens in Prague on Tuesday night with a special performance by the Czech avant garde musician Iva Bittová. She will be accompanied at the Estate’s Theatre by jazz musicians and – for the first time – the Prague Philharmonic.
Over 60,000 people attended an open-air concert by the Czech rock band Kabát in Prague’s Vypich district on Saturday night. According to the CTK news agency, it was the biggest concert ever played in the capital by a Czech group. The show marked the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Kabát, who in recent years have become one of the most popular musical acts in the country.
Moravian folk music has long and rich traditions, and many artists work with its motifs in creating their own musical style. One of them is the “Walachian Bard” Vlasta Redl. He started his career in the mid 1980s in a band that was very well received, but eventually looked ever closer to the traditional Moravian music for inspiration.
The “Rock na valníku” Festival began on Thursday in the town of Slaný, to the north-west of Prague. The festival, which is now in its 10th year, showcases a wide range of mainstream Czech musicians and is visited annually by roughly 4000 visitors. This summer’s line-up is set to include performers such as Tři sestry, Sto Zvírat, and Ivan Mládek.
Police in East Bohemia are investigating what turned out to be a hoax bomb threat at the site of the Hip Hop Kemp music festival in the city of Hradec Králové. Bomb experts searched the site, a local airfield, on Saturday after an anonymous bomb threat was called in to local police. According to the festival organisers, the phone call came from abroad. Some 15,000 visitors have arrived at the four-day festival this year which is scheduled to end on Saturday night.
The District Court of Plzeň has convicted 42-year-old opera tenor Robert Šícho to 10 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of a colleague. The court heard that on November 28 of 2008, under the pretext of a concert together, Mr Šícho had been driving his would-be victim, also an opera singer, to the western town of Mariánské Lázně, when he pulled the rented vehicle over and attempted to strangle him with a chord. The victim was able to release himself and telephone the police. Mr Šícho has maintained his innocence throughout, and intends to appeal the decision.
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