For this week's Czech Books I visited a very well known author, Tereza Brdečková, in her flat in Malá Strana, the oldest quarter in Prague. She's an author who seems to have a particular interest in the importance of not forgetting the past and in the ways individuals tell their stories. In short, how history is constructed. This is reflected in many of her works, most particularly in The History Teacher, a novel that tells the tale of a thirty-something male teacher who is utterly traumatised by the changes of 1989. My first question was to ask
This month’s Music Profile is dedicated to the prodigious Czech singing talent Waldemar Matuška. An excellent actor to boot, Matuška starred in, and sang on the soundtracks of, many Czechoslovak films throughout the 1970s. His career, which spans over 40 years, is still going strong today. In this edition of Music Profile, you can hear some of the highlights:
One of the most traditional elements of any Czech Christmas – hand in hand with Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass, golden mistletoe, winter scenes by Josef Lada, and carp and potato salad, are Czech fairytales on film, screened every holiday season on Czech TV. Kids in the West had Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but the Czechs have many, many classics of their own - not animated - but live-action fairy tales which have been loved for generations. In this Special, we look at why film fairytales
If any country in the world is home to the Christmas carol, it has to be the Czech Republic. The tradition of carolling goes back centuries, and Czech Christmas music is a wonderfully rich mixture of spiritual, secular, classical and folk traditions. So for this special programme, we take you on a journey into the world of Czech Christmas music. In order to enjoy this programme fully, you need to hear the music. Just click on the “listen” icon. But even if you are not able to listen, you can read a transcript of part of my interview with a person
Before moving to Prague from Dublin in 1993, I was in the habit of going to a lot of rock concerts, and the relative dearth of decent gigs here took some time getting used to. Still, the city wasn’t completely off the musical map by any means, and I seem to recall that Beck, Pavement, Tindersticks, the Cocteau Twins, Yo La Tengo and a number of others performed here in a relatively short period of time. Joe Strummer played a rare one-off gig and Nick Cave was here so often he ended up writing a song about what was for a bit my local, the Thirsty
For this week’s programme, we have something of a treat: a long forgotten interview from our archives with someone who is nothing less than a Czech legend. If you ask just about anyone in this country who is the best loved Czech actor of all time, you will almost certainly hear the name Jan Werich. Several generations of Czechs have grown up to love the larger-than-life roles he played, his distinctive and deep voice, and his wonderfully expressive and humorous face, immortalized in films that span a career of fifty years. Born in 1905, Werich first
This year, some historians contend, marks exactly 1,100 years since the birth of St. Wenceslas, the Czech king and chief patron of the Czech lands. To celebrate this important anniversary, the National Gallery together with the Prague Archbishopric, organised a special exhibition at St Agnes’ Convent in Prague entitled Svatý Václav – ochránce české země or King Wenceslas – the Patron of the Czech lands.