Karel Kryl, perhaps the greatest Czech protest singer ever, was born on this day 75 years ago. Kryl’s spare and highly poetic songs such as Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Close the Gate, Little Brother), composed in the wake of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, reflected the frustrations of many Czechoslovaks and remain popular to this day. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the folk artist’s premature death at the age of 49.
Twin sisters Jitka and Květa Válová, named “Dames of Czech Culture” in memorandum this week, were once described by a Communist zealot as an “ulcer on the red face of Kladno”, the industrial Bohemian city of their birth. They rejected the dominant Socialist Realism aesthetic of the 1950s, preferring more abstract and expressive work, long sealing their pariah status. They responded by turning their shared home and atelier into a salon for free thinkers.
After a break of nearly 50 years, the Czech Republic will be participating in the Milan Triennial, a prestigious international showcase for contemporary artists and designers. The Czech Republic will be represented by two works of art, Out of Power Tower by Krištof Kintera and Lithopy by Denisa Kera, which explore the theme of energy wastage and mocks the current craze for cryptocurrencies.
Ondřej Pivec plays organ with one of the biggest stars in world jazz, singer Gregory Porter. This makes Pivec, who is in his mid-30s, perhaps the most successful non-classical Czech musician of his generation. When we met at a café in his Brooklyn neighbourhood, the conversation took in his struggles to establish himself in New York, the specific nature of performing in churches and his live baptism of fire with Porter. But first Ondřej Pivec explained how a stay of several months in the Big Apple 10 years ago turned into a long-term move that tranformed
The roots of Czechoslovak punk stretch 40 years back, to a concert of an alternative band called Extempore. The gig took place on February 23, 1979 in a Prague pub U Zábranských, and featured several cover versions of well-known punk hits. How has the Czech punk scene developed since then? And does punk music still resonate with today’s audiences? Find out more in this edition of Sunday Music Show.
A free global network for poets and poetry lovers, developed in the Czech Republic, has recently been launched in the United States. Called Poetizer, it allows its users to publish and share their poems and aims to serve as an alternative to the existing social platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. The site was originally founded in 2017 as a mobile app and currently covers some 120 countries with over 65,000 poems written by its users.
More than sixty years after its premiere, a unique Czech documentary from Tibet, made in the early 1950s, returns to Czech cinemas on Tuesday. Called Cesta vede do Tibetu or the Road leads to Tibet, the film had won several awards before being banned by the Communist authorities. Today it brings a unique testimony of places that have long been destroyed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Václav Hudeček got his first violin at the age of five and at 15 he performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The exceptionally talented young man studied at the Prague Music Conservatory and was one of David Oistrakh’s last students. In a career spanning more than half a century Hudeček has performed the world over, playing in the most prestigious venues and appearing at festivals in Europe, Japan, and Australia. Hudeček has also presented master classes in Canada, Germany, and Japan, and runs an annual academy for promising young Czech
Czech pop-singer Václav Neckář is perhaps best-known for his role of Jiří Hrma in the Oscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains by Jiří Menzel. He enjoyed his biggest popularity as a singer in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Golden Kids trio. Despite recently turning 75, Neckář continues to perform and sell out concert halls all around the country.