The annual international book fair and literary festival Book World Prague got underway on Thursday at the city’s Výstaviště grounds, featuring over 400 exhibitors from 22 countries. I spoke to Radovan Auer, the head of Book World Prague and asked him to tell me more about this year’s main topics, comics and the revolutionary 20th century.
The Czech Republic is known for its skilled glassmakers, getting commissions for lighting installations and glass artworks from palaces, luxury hotels and residences the world over. However this year the studio of Czech glassmaker Zdeněk Lhotský concluded work on a truly unique project – a four-tonne glass case that will serve as a sarcophagus for Denmark’s Queen Margarethe II.
Final preparations are underway for the Prague Spring music festival, which begins on Saturday evening with the traditional rendition of Smetana’s My Country at the Municipal House. As always, it will showcase a plethora of major names in classical music. But this year there will also be a special focus on the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. Pavel Trojan, the festival’s spokesperson, told me more.
The Czech Republic’s Mikolas Josef has advanced to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest with his offering Lie to Me. The 22-year-old singer, who performed despite sustaining an injury during rehearsals, is one of nine participants to make it out of the first semi-final and only the second Czech in history to reach the finals.
How did Karel Gott become the only artist from a communist state to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest? What was Czechoslovakia’s role in the Eastern Bloc’s parallel Intervision? And why were rockers Kabát such a bad fit for the Eurovision? Ahead of next weekend’s final of the pan-European extravaganza these were some of the subjects I discussed with Vienna-based historian Dean Vuletic, author of Postwar Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest.
Iva Bittová is a phenomenal Czech avant-garde violinist, singer and composer who has developed a music style of her own. She moved to upstate New York over ten years ago where she continues performing and teaching both children and adults. We talked after one of her workshops in Prague about her career, her future projects and her passion for helping underprivileged youth to realize their full musical potential.
The legendary Czech experimental theatre revolution, Laterna Magika, is marking its 60th anniversary. Combining black light theatre, film and dance, the revolutionary concept premiered at the Expo 1968 exhibition in Brussels has since performed all around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Summer Olympics in Athens.
Burning witches on April 30-May 1 is an ancient pagan tradition which developed in various European countries including the Czech Republic. People believed witches were especially active on that night and that they flew above people’s heads and later trampled all the crops sown in the fields. That’s the reason why fires were lit with the express aim of burning the witches.
The legendary comics Rychlé Šípy, or Rapid Arrows, by Jaroslav Foglar are making a comeback. Albatros is set re-publish all of the major works by the late writer and youth movement activist, including some previously unreleased texts. The edition is being prepared in cooperation with the Scout Foundation of Jaroslav Foglar.