For the first time since 2005, there has been a fall in the number of books published in the Czech Republic. A regular survey by the Czech National library shows that the number of books published in 2009 was about a thousand lower than the previous year. However, despite the decrease Czechs still rank among the most avid readers in Europe and overall sales of books remain pretty much on the same level.
The Czech Centre in the Dutch capital The Hague has been promoting all things Czech since 1994. Last year, more than 60,000 thousand people approached the centre or took part in one of their events. But the economic crisis has put the centre in a difficult situation, as the Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to cut around one third of its budget. Radio Prague spoke to the head of Czech Centre in The Hague Petra Prinsová and asked her how they are coping with the current situation.
Vratislav Brabenec is a member of the band The Plastic People of the Universe, a thorn in the side of Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. But Mr Brabenec is also the author of a book of stories for children, called The Centre of the World is Everywhere, which is now also available in an English translation.
Say the word ‘carnival’ and people usually think of the colourful extravaganzas of Brazil or Venice, but the period leading up to the beginning of lent is celebrated across the world, including the Czech Republic. Here it’s known as “masopust”, which means pretty much the same thing as the Italian “carnevale” – i.e. to refrain from eating meat. Masopust is mostly celebrated in Moravia, but a husband and wife team is trying to resurrect the lavish Prague carnival that was the social event of the year in centuries gone by.
Kawasakiho Růže or Kawasaki’s Rose is the newest film by the successful Czech director-screenwriter duo Jan Hřebejk and Petr Jarchovský. In Kawasaki’s Rose, Hřebejk, considered one of the leading directors of his generation, explores a story about family tensions, but as the conflict between the characters escalates, the film becomes deeply political.
Eva Pilarová, one of the country’s best known jazz singers, is currently celebrating a remarkable 50 years on the stage. Pilarová, whose career is closely linked to the legendary Semafor Theatre, will mark the anniversary with a series of concerts across the Czech Republic, accompanied by a number of younger musicians.
The village of Husinec, in south Bohemia, wants to open a new centre commemorating its most famous son, the 15th century religious reformer Jan Hus. While the municipality hopes the new visitor and research centre will open in time for the 600th anniversary of his death in five years’ time, critics say the project is over the top.
The music of Vladimir 518 has been a staple of the Czech hip hop scene since it started in the 1990s. Now he has taken his music to a unique performance called Spam that uses cutting-edge video arts to honour architect Karel Prager. Prager was the mind behind some of the most marvelled at and most despised structures in Prague, including the National Theatre’s New Scene building, where the show was held. At the beginning of a wide-ranging interview I asked him why he had chosen the controversial designer as the theme for this latest production.
Anyone familiar with the Czech electronic and dance music scene will have come across the work of Jitka Charvátová, also known as Ji, the charismatic and talented former singer for cutting edge groups like Skyline and the late Milan Hlavsa’s 1990s band Fiction. Now Jitka has reset her career with a recently released but already highly-lauded new solo album called Feed My Lion, featuring 8-bit, electro pop and elements of hip hop.