The Czech Philharmonic kicks off its 2008-2009 season on Friday night with a recital of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 2. It will be conducted at Prague’s Rudolfinum by one of a host of guest conductors filling in while the orchestra waits for the renowned Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal, who takes over in a year’s time. But the philharmonic’s director, Václav Riedlbauch, doesn’t seem too worried about the current lack of a permanent lead. I met him before the grand performance and asked firstly why he’d chosen Mahler for the opening concert:
This week, an exhibition has opened in the town of Cheb of a series of nude photographs of the singer Madonna taken in 1979 before she was famous. The pictures were taken by Czech-born photographer Martin Schreiber, who moved along with his family to New York in the 1950s to avoid communist persecution. When he discovered that he had nude photographs of one of the world’s most famous singers, Martin Schreiber earned limited fame and fortune for himself, selling the pictures to Playboy in the early 1980s. Dominik Jun spoke to him during his visit
Images of the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská Street have been on display all over Prague in recent weeks, in memory of the key role that the building played during the Soviet-led invasion in 1968. But for nearly the last year, the historic site itself has been covered in scaffolding, as the building undergoes a complete refit inside and out. It will take nearly another year to restore the building to its former glory, but to check out how the work is getting on, I donned a hard hat and took a tour:
The Canadian Embassy in Prague is busy making plans for a possible visit by the country’s governor general. Michaëlle Jean is due to visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia in early November, although officials stress the trip has yet to be confirmed. One stop on her proposed Czech itinerary is the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, incidentally at a time when increasing numbers of Romanies are once again applying for asylum in Canada. Radio Prague spoke to Canadian Ambassador Michael Calcott:
Antonín Kratochvíl is one of the greatest contemporary Czech photographers. Known for both his celebrity portraits and photojournalism, he is said to have won World Press Photo awards in more categories than anybody else. Much of his work is informed by his own tough experiences, starting with the Communists’ persecution of his family, who owned a photography studio. At his apartment in New York, where he has been living for three decades, I asked Antonín Kratochvíl when he had first begun to feel his family was being treated harshly.
Before he ever picked up a camera, the internationally renowned Czech photographer Antonín Kratochvíl led a colourful life to say the least. After escaping from Czechoslovakia in 1967, he spent time in an Austrian refugee camp, was imprisoned in Sweden and joined the French Foreign Legion, with whom he fought in a war before later deserting. In the second part of an interview conducted at his long-term home in New York, Antonín Kratochvíl discusses, among other things, how his own experiences have shaped his approach to photography.
Prague is the city of hundred spires and countless historic sights, but what does it look like when you close your eyes? A new project called Favourite Sounds of Prague attempts to draw attention to the “soundscape” of the Czech capital, exploring how local people perceive the sounds that surround them. One of the fruits of the project will be an archive of sounds, something like an acoustic portrait of the city. The man behind the idea is British artist Peter Cusack, who has carried out similar projects in several cities across the world. The
Last week saw the premiere of ‘Máj’ (or ‘May’), a film version of an iconic romantic poem written by one of the greatest Czech poets, Karel Hynek Mácha. The film director, František A. Brabec, already has experience of adapting poetry to screen: his previous film ‘Kytice’ was an adaptation of another 19th century literary classic, an anthology of ballads by Karel Jaromír Erben. So, how did the filmmaker succeed in transforming a lyrical epic of love and death into a movie? Ruth Fraňková has more.