The minimalist composer and conductor Petr Kotík has led the S.E.M Ensemble since soon after he arrived in the United States at the very end of the 1960s. In this, the second of two editions of the Arts dedicated to the Prague-born musician, he explains why he considers his hometown a musical “garbage heap” and lauds Ostrava, the city where he established an institute and festival dedicated to new music.
This song might sound like something out of a Western, but it is every bit as Czech as Dvořák or Smetana. 'Sbohem kapitáne můj' is one of the hundreds of melodies to form part of the Czech tramping songbook. Such songs have, for the last 90 years, been providing the soundtrack to a particularly Czech pastime – tramping. To an untrained eye, tramping consists of weekends spent living rough in the forest, and weekdays meeting with kindred spirits and singing in the pub. But to those initiated, tramping means much more – it's a way of life. At a fortnightly
The Czech national beverage is unquestionably beer but, more and more Czechs are taking a fancy to quite a different liquid – tea. Not only does the Czech Republic have the highest number of tea rooms per person in Europe; Czechs have recently become the first Europeans to join the prestigious World Tea Union, an association joining tea experts from all over the world.
The activities of Czechoslovak armed units on the side of the Allied powers during World War I helped Czechs and Slovaks win consent to form their own state when the conflict ended in 1918. The legions that had been fighting in Russia, however, became embroiled in that country’s civil war, and didn’t get home until two years later. Their fascinating story is the subject of a new exhibition in Prague.
“I’m now going to write down some of the things which have happened over the last few days. I’ve got such a short memory, I’m afraid, and this is a way of making sure that I don’t forget.” These are the opening lines of a diary that was written in 1945 by a young woman as she gradually emerged from the hell of the concentration camps, hoping, against the odds, to see her husband again. The woman’s name was Hana Pravda, and she died in London on May 22 this year at the age of 92. Hana spent much of the second half of her life in Britain, where she
The Irish singer Glen Hansard and Czech musician Markéta Irglová, who won an Oscar this year for best original song with their composition Falling Slowly will make an appearance in The Simpsons. Twelve women from a small Czech town find inspiration in the movie Calendar Girls. And, the Napoleonic Society plans to pay tribute to the horses that were killed in Battle of Austerlitz. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
All this week Prague has been playing host to the sixth annual Bollywood festival of Indian film. The festival has grown from an informal gathering of film students into a major cultural event, echoing the transition of Bollywood itself into a mainstream art form with mass appeal across the globe. And, as Rob Cameron reports, the special guest at this year’s festival is a cult figure for a generation of Czechs.
Petr Kotík is a Prague-born composer and conductor based in New York. He is the founder and artistic director of the S.E.M. Ensemble, a group that performs modern classical music, both by Kotík himself and others including John Cage and La Monte Young. In 1999 he established the Ostrava Centre for New Music, which runs the biennial Ostrava Days institute and festival in the north Moravian city.