Hello and welcome to Czech Books, which this week has a French accent. It would be hard to overstate the very important and longstanding relationship between the Czech and French cultures. Historically many writers and artists such as Alfons Mucha, Toyen and more recently, Milan Kundera, have found a home in France, and the tradition continues today with the translator and writer Patrik Ouředník, whose very powerful and remarkable book, Europeana, we'll be discussing today.
This weekend sees the 19th annual ‘Babí léto’ festival take place at Prague’s Bohnice psychiatric clinic. The festival comprises of both music and drama and, for the fifth year running, a special showcase of homeless people’s theatre. One of the acts involved in that section is ‘Bliss’ – a Czech musical theatre troupe made up of sex-workers. The group is run by the Czech charity ‘Rozkoš bez rizika’ (‘Bliss without Risk’), whose work also includes counseling, and testing sex-workers for AIDS. When I met charity head Hana Malinová, she seemed slightly
In the past when Czechs thought about comics, classic children’s publications like Čtyřlístek (Fourleaf Clover), about four animal characters, or Fast Arrows – adventure stories for kids - came to mind. But after 1989, conceptions of comics gradually changed as comics not seen here before gradually entered the market. Soon, many grew instantly recognizable to most teenagers: classic superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman and others; on the other, newer genres also began to come in, edgier so-called new wave productions, of which Art Speiglman’s classic
Hello and welcome to another edition of Music Profile which, this month, centres upon the Prague-based rock group ‘Psí Vojáci’ (or ‘Dog Soldiers’), led by the charismatic songwriter, singer and pianist Filip Topol. Psí Vojáci started as an underground band during the Communist regime, but enjoyed probably their biggest success after its fall in 1989. From the very beginning their sound was dominated by Filip Topol’s piano as well as dark, expressive lyrics. We begin with a song called ‘Černý sedlo’ or ‘Black Saddle’.
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
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:
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.