The horrible death of Jan Palach shook the Czechoslovak nation. In the ten days between Palach’s self-immolation and his massive funeral, the country saw a number of rallies and protests, as people expressed their opposition to both the Soviet occupiers and the home-grown communist elite that was beginning to collaborate with them. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Jan Palach’s death, a new exhibition has just opened in Prague featuring rarely seen photos of those events.
The world of Czech culture is in mourning following the death of the renowned architect Jan Kaplický, who passed away on Wednesday evening. The loss is not just a major one for the Czech Republic, but a deep personal one for his family – Mr Kaplický died just three hours after his wife gave birth to a daughter in Prague.
Nothing better symbolizes the political thaw in 1960s Czechoslovakia than the boom in jazz, which many saw as embodying the very idea of individual expression and freedom from constraint. It is not hard to imagine the excitement when Louis Armstrong came to Prague in March 1965. Many people felt that Czechoslovakia had at last come in from the cold, and his concert at Prague’s Lucerna Ballroom was a cultural milestone. It ended with Satchmo thanking his audience, commenting that the Czech passion for jazz had come as quite a surprise to him.
Václav Havel is known as the first president of the Czech Republic, an anti-communist dissident, and a playwright. A new exhibition, which opened in Prague on Tuesday, presents Mr Havel in yet another role – as inspiration for poets from the unofficial Czech culture of the 1970s and ‘80s. Entitled “We had the Underground, Now we Have F-All”, the exhibition features texts by underground Czech poets about Václav Havel.
One of the most exciting bands to emerge on the Czech music scene over the last 12 months is the funky and progressive pop group known as Toxique. Headed by singer Klara Vytisková (who some have described as a Czech Gwen Stefani) the band released its debut last year – and soon shot up in the charts. The single Two Sides is now widely well-known, while an appearance in last year’s Eurosong (the national round of the Eurovision contest) only added to Toxique’s popularity. The band is the focus of today’s Arts.
My guest today is Nancy Bishop, an American-born woman who works as a casting director in Prague. Apart from this, she also teaches potential actors how to become more “castable,” has written a book on casting and also found the time to make a feature-length low-budget film called “Rex-patriates” about why expats find it so difficult to leave Prague. Nancy Bishop was born in New England and studied acting and theatre in Michigan before working in Chicago. She now resides in the Czech Republic. I began the interview by asking Nancy how she came to
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