Writers from all over the world gathered in Prague this week to recall the strange days of 1968. The Prague Writers’ Festival, which was originally set up to promote Central European writing abroad, attracted a larger-than-ever number of authors to the Czech capital – here to recall the Prague Spring of 1968, as well as what they themselves were up to, the year that shook the world.
Martin Rajniš is a renowned Czech architect, who along with Johnny Eisler and Miroslav Masák, authored the famous Máj building (now Tesco) in the centre of Prague. Designed in the high tech style Máj was one of Czechoslovakia’s first department stores and is now a cultural heritage site. But that is only one of the architect’s achievements: in the 1990s after the fall of Communism, he was involved in the extensive redesigning of the area around Anděl in Prague’s Smíchov district. Since, the architect has also concentrated more and more on designs
Amadeus, Mission: Impossible and Casino Royale are just a few of more than 70 international films shot in and around Prague since the 1980s. Visitors to the Czech capital now can follow in the steps of their favourite stars – with a newly published map that will show them where all the action took place.
Many fans of classical music in the Czech capital have been closely following the Prague Spring Festival drawing to a close this week. But how many knew that some of these classical musicians also play football? On Sunday members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra faced the Czech Radio Symphony in a 5-aside football friendly in Prague’s Hanspaulka district.
The Khamoro Festival is an international Romany Festival held in Prague each year. This year saw the 10th anniversary of the event, which features Romany performers and musicians from around the world, celebrating their rich cultural heritage with a packed programme of performances. One of the highlights is a vibrant procession of dancing and music which winds its colourful way from Mustek to Old Town Square. Jamie Brindley followed the procession yesterday.
The New York-based company Tamizdat brings music from central and eastern Europe to an American audience. They also act as an agency helping musicians get work visas to perform in the US, and handle the applications of virtually every Czech musician who plays in America. For that reason, Tamizdat owner Matthew Covey has an extensive knowledge of Czech artists and the US – which groups visit the States, where they play, and who they play to.
A major new exhibition entitled “Biedermeier Art and Culture in the Czech Lands, 1818 to 1848” has just got underway at Prague Castle. Indeed, organisers are saying it could well be the Castle’s biggest show of the year. The term Biedermeier takes in literature, painting and even life-style, though it is most closely identified with elegant furniture which was made for central Europe’s emerging middle classes in the first half of the 19th century. Kateřina Horníčková of Prague Castle’s culture section told me a bit about the phenomenon of Biedemeier,
Anyone familiar with Czech photography in recent years will have come across the name of Adolf Zika – highly respected in the world of fashion for his commercial and artistic photographs. At 36, Zika has represented the Leica Gallery in France, has shot campaigns for major brand-name clients and done shoots for glossy magazines including Playboy.
This Tuesday sees the opening of a new exhibition at Prague’s Jaroslav Fragner gallery featuring the work of renowned Czech architect Martin Rajniš. He is one of the co-authors of the famous Máj building, now Tesco, on Prague’s Narodní Street as well as the architect who designed a famous wood and glass post office, on the Czech Republic’s Sněžka Mountain. Increasingly, the architect has focused on the incorporation of natural materials. The aim of exhibition, in many ways, is to show visitors they don’t have to accept the status quo.
Hundreds gathered outside Prague’s National Theatre on Sunday to witness an eight-hour-long protest against the way the arts are funded in the Czech capital. The event - comprising of performances, speeches and concerts staged by Czech stars - marked the opening of the ‘Dny neklidu’ (‘Days of Unrest’). The festival, which calls on Prague City Hall to change the way it deals out its culture budget, has been largely masterminded by actors and producers at the capital’s Švandovo Divadlo. I paid this Smíchov theatre a visit to talk to event organiser