The world famous mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková, in collaboration with Czech composer and conductor Jaroslav Krček and his ensemble Musica Bohemica, has released her debut Christmas album. Called Nativitas, Christmas Songs of Old Europe, it is made up of Czech and Moravian carols, Christmas songs from seventeenth-century Bohemian Baroque hymnbooks as well as old carols of other European nations.
For centuries, Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, a symbol of Czech statehood, lacked a suitable pipe organ whose sound would fill its monumental space. Now, nearly 700 years after construction began, the cathedral is set to get a huge new organ. More than 74 million crowns have already been raised in a public collection to build the instrument.
Rychlé šípy or The Rapid Arrows, a legendary Czech comic series by Jaroslav Foglar about the adventures of five boys in the city, marks its 80th anniversary this week. The first strip was published on December 17, 1948 on the back-page of the New Herald children’s magazine. Since then the comics have enjoyed a cult following, despite being banned several times first by the Nazis and then by the Communists.
Martin Chodúr, a Czech singer and the winner of the 2009 Czech Pop Idol, has released his first Christmas album called Hallelujah. It contains cover-versions of some of the best-known Christmas songs, such as Oh, Holy Night or I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, as well as a couple of traditional Czech carols. Martin Chodúr is accompanied by the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra headed by Marek Prášil.
The Czech Film Fund will spend CZK 64 million on supporting eight upcoming feature films. The largest amount, some CZK 14.5 million, will help fund an upcoming biographical film about Václav Havel. According to the fund’s director Helena Bezděk Fraňková, the films cover a wide range of genres including historical pictures, those covering present day issues and a film for children.
US-based Czech photographer Marie Tomanová is known for her striking portrait work and often nude images of her own body interacting with nature. Right now Tomanová’s career is on the up and up. She made a splash in New York with a solo show this year, has her first monograph coming out soon and is also set to be the subject of a documentary. When we met, I asked the Moravian-born artist what had led her to the US almost eight years ago.
The Prague funk group Monkey Business, known for their highly entertaining live shows, have just launched their ninth LP, Bad Time for Gentlemen. Fronted by singer and keyboardist Roman Holý and showman vocalist Matěj Ruppert, the band have been around for almost two decades and released their debut LP in 2000. The titles on their newest album – including Worst Lover Ever, Too Fat to Work and Sweet Years of Procrastination – show that Monkey Business still possess the sense of fun that won them fans around the country in the first place.
When the novel The Glass Room by the British writer Simon Mawer was published in 2009 it was an instant hit, and it was no surprise when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The book was widely discussed in the Czech Republic as it revolves around the story of one this country’s most remarkable twentieth century buildings, the Villa Tugendhat in Brno. This was not Simon Mawer’s first novel set in the city. Over a decade earlier he wrote Mendel’s Dwarf, which took its inspiration from Gregor Mendel, one of the fathers of genetics and the
When I visited New York in September I heard nothing but praise for the work of the city’s Czech Center in recent years. Much of the credit for this belongs to Barbara Karpetová, its tireless director, whose tenure is now coming to a close. The Czech Center is located in the magnificent Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When we spoke at its well-stocked, stylish library, I asked Karpetová who the institution’s visitors tended to be.
Karel Gott is unquestionably one of the most successful figures in the history of Czech show business. Over the course of his career, spanning over six decades, he collected more than 40 Golden Nightingales Awards as the country’s most popular singer and recorded over 100 albums. At the age of 79, Karel Gott is still going strong. He has successfully overcome cancer to return on stage and release a new album.