With only a couple of weeks remaining before the end of the 2008, anticipation is growing over the Czech Republic’s upcoming EU presidency: for six months the country will garner unprecedented attention and it is an unrivalled opportunity to present some of the most important facets of Czech arts and culture. In fact, the country’s Czech centres and other institutions have organised some 700 different events worldwide.
Marking five decades since the death of the great Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů in 1959, a major international project entitled Martinů Revisited was officially launched on Thursday night with a concert at Prague’s Rudolfinum. It features scores of events, both in the Czech Republic and further afield, and will run for exactly two years, until December 12, 2010.
Several Czech films made their New York debuts at The Brooklyn Academy of Music recently. The New York cultural institution's annual Czech film series is now it its ninth year - and is the longest running series at the Academy. This year's roster of films included Bohdan Sláma’s ‘The Country Teacher,’ Vladimir Michálek's 'Of Parents and Children', and Jan Svěrák's 'Empties'. Kate Barrette has this report from New York where she spoke with Czech directors and actors, as well as the co-curator of the series Irena Kovářová:
You are not very likely to wander into Svitavy by chance. Located on both the major road and railway line connecting Moravia and eastern Bohemia, for most people Svitavy is just a name on their itinerary. But if you do come and take a closer look, you’ll find a little town proud of its past and working for a better future. Once an important town for Moravia’s textile industry, re-populated after the expulsion of Svitavy’s German speaking inhabitants, it only recently showed its pride in perhaps its most famous native personality – Oskar
Artěl was a turn-of-the-century collective of young Prague-based designers sometimes referred to as the ‘Czech Bauhaus’. The movement is nowadays most famous for its cubist ceramics, which are still much sought after, and for its colourful wooden boxes and toys. In this, Artěl’s centenary year, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague has launched a major retrospective of the movement, whose impact is still felt on Czech design today. Museum director Helena Konigsmarková showed me around:
Today we disclose the identity of November’s mystery Czech and announce the names of the four listeners who will receive small prizes for their correct answers. Listeners quoted: Imo Obong Umana, Mogire Machuki, Prasanta Kumar Padmapati, Henk Poortvliet, Hans Verner Lollike, Jana Vaculik, K.Thiagarajan, Francesco Reda and Irena Knos, Krzysztof Borski, Constantin Liviu Viorel, Colin Law, Christine Takaguchi-Coates, Christopher Larkosh, Mark Schiefelbein, Charles Konecny.
The guest on Czech Books this week, Tomáš Zmeškal, stunned the Czech literary world and reading public this autumn with his debut novel, Milostný Dopis Klínovým Písmem or Love Letter in Cunieform Script. The book is an unusual kind of love story with a broad historical sweep, covering the post-war period to the 1990s, and has a very innovative stylistic approach. After almost unbelievably positive reviews it sold out immediately and went into a second edition - the sort of "overnight success" and "literary sensation" most writers must
Prague’s Divadlo na Zábradlí is best known for staging plays by the former Czech president Václav Havel, but recently, it has started producing English-language plays for the benefit of the Anglo-American community and foreign visitors. This Saturday will see the premiere of Edmond by American playwright David Mamet performed by the Black Snow theatrical company. Ruth Fraňková spoke to its director David Peimer.
Česká RAPublika is a new documentary following the lives of some of the best-known names in Czech rap. Over the last three years, director Pavel Abrahám has followed the movements of artists Hugo Toxx, Orion and James Cole, creating a portrait of the three rappers, and the Czech rap scene, as an end result. The film has been praised for its humour, which is not at the expense of its central characters. Director Pavel Abrahám says that following these rappers’ lives was in itself extremely enjoyable:
In last week’s From the Archives we featured Martin Luther King, interviewed by Czechoslovak Radio in 1963. But Dr King was not the first civil rights campaigner to address Czech and Slovak radio listeners. Four years earlier, in June 1959, Paul Robeson came to Prague, to take part in an international left-wing cultural congress. Robeson was a man of many talents – singer, actor, athlete, writer and civil rights activist. He never concealed his sympathies with the communist regimes of the Eastern Bloc, and his political views – combined with the