A Czech architectural landmark has provided the backdrop, and indeed central theme, for a book which has been creating a stir in the literary world. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer tells the story of a modernist villa in a Czech town, from conception to construction, eventually to seizure by the state. The Glass Room has been receiving a great deal of publicity ever since it was nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Over the phone from his home in Italy, author Simon Mawer voiced his bewilderment as to why his book was proving so popular
The famous Italian composer Ennio Morricone – the author of more than 400 film scores including classics like Once Upon a Time in the West – was in the Czech Republic this week to cooperate on a new CD. He spent a day in the studio with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra recording some of his most famous work.
All this week, events are taking place around the capital to celebrate contemporary Czech design, as part of Prague’s Designblok festival. On Tuesday night, ‘The Small House’ - an exhibition of modern, compact, living spaces - opened at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. I went along to find out if less really was more, and meet the architects behind the project:
2009 marks several important anniversaries for the Czech Republic; one we have not heard so much about is the 100th anniversary of the cinema house. The place in question is Prague’s Lucerna Palace, which screened its first film on December 3rd, 1909, and is still today the most popular single-screen cinema in the country.
A new exhibition entitled Čerstvé! or Fresh! has just got underway at Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts. It showcases recent acquisitions of the Museum, including glass, china, fashion, jewelry, furniture and graphic collections by prominent Czech designers and manufacturers. The exhibition is part of a larger event annual Designblok festival, which also starts today.
Every year, the Czech Foreign Ministry presents Gratias Agit awards to those who have helped promote the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Recipients include individuals and institutions from all over the world; this year, the list of laureates ranges from Marius Sczygiel, a Polish journalist, who published a best-selling book about the Czech Republic, to Pontifical College Nepomucenum, an educational institution for Czech clergy in the Vatican.
This month's Music Profile will prove a treat for polyglots in particular. In this edition, we're taking a look at the back-catalogue of singer-songwriter, translator par excellence, and head of the Czech PEN club, Jiří Dědeček. For songs about postmodern romance, moneychangers, military secretaries, and the Czech town of Žatec, tune in to Music Profile.
At the tender age of 14, Iva Fruehlingová moved to France, on her own, to pursue a successful career as a model. In recent years, she has returned to the Czech Republic, where she is now a successful pop singer. On top of that, she has just brought out her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Příběhy modelek [Models’ Stories]. I spoke to Fruehlingová at the launch of the book, and began by asking her what had inspired it.
Jaromír Honzák is one of the most important figures in the Czech jazz world. The double bass player recently turned 50, marking that milestone with the release of a new Jaromír Honzák Quintet CD entitled Little Things. As well as gigging regularly in the Czech Republic and further afield, he is the head of the Czech Republic’s first dedicated jazz school. I spoke to Honzák before a show at the Prague venue Jazz Dock the other night.
The first two names always given at the top of the pantheon of Czech classical music are Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana; the third is invariably Leoš Janáček. Probably the most innovative of the three, Janáček likely lags behind the famous duo only because even today, 80 years after his death, musicians, musicologists and music lovers are still reassessing those innovations, which took classical music into uncharted territory.