One of the staples of the Czech Christmas’, along with fried carp, Christmas cookies and fairy tales, is Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass. The mass composed by a small-town teacher in 1796 has become the most popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written. It is performed in churches, concert halls and resounds in millions of Czech homes at this time of year. So on Christmas Eve, we would like to share this musical experience with you and have selected a 1998 recording that has been hailed as the best recording of the Czech Xmas mass ever made.
This edition of Sunday Music Show is dedicated to the songs of the legendary protest singer Karel Kryl, interpreted by some of the best known Czech musicians, such as Markéta Irglová, Aneta Langerová or Tomáš Klus. The album Karel Kryl 70 is a live recording of a concert which took place in Prague’s Lucerna Music Hall this April to mark two important anniversaries related to the legendary protest singer - 70 years since his birth and 20 years since his death.
Earlier this year, Jakub Hadrava, a third-year student of sculpture at the University of West Bohemia, made international headlines with an unusual installation at St. George’s church, a dominant but dilapidated site located in Lukova in the picturesque Plzeň countryside. Consisting of more than a dozen life-sized ghostly figures – which the artist seated in the church’s pews – the installation began attracting attention earlier this year, becoming a focal point for tourists from as close by as Germany and far off as Brazil.
Among the many Christmas events underway in Prague at this time of year is an exhibition of nativity scenes and bells at Bethlehem Chapel in the city centre. Hidden deep in the bowels of the chapel, the exhibition is light years away from the bright lights and bustling city life above. Everything on display is hand made –from wood carved nativity scenes to Christmas decorations made of lace – and it transports visitors to the Christmases of days-gone-by. My guide around the exhibition Hanka Drahošová says this is the place to come for the real Christmas
After eight years of existence, the Trafačka art gallery in Prague is closing down, making way for a new housing development. Over the years, Trafačka, which is situated in a former transmission station in the Vysočany district, has become a respected centre for young artists and featured dozens of exhibitions and other events. I met with one of its founders, street and graffiti artist Jan Kaláb, to look back at the history of this unique space:
Led by singer-guitarist Ondřej Krochmalný, the Český Těšín-based band Planety received the Best New Act gong at the 2012 Vinyl awards for their debut LP Peklo, peklo, ráj. This year the indie outfit – influenced by the likes of Pixies, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine – returned with the positively received Nekonečná hudba města zapomeneš.
Leader of local indie pioneers The Ecstasy of St. Theresa and a successful composer of film scores, Jan P. Muchow is one of the most respected musicians and producers in the Czech Republic. He calls the now-hip Vršovice district home but works in the nearby Vinohrady. And we begin our tour of “Jan Muchow’s Prague” on the latter’s Jiřího z Poděbrad square, just around the corner from his relatively new studio.
The annual DesignSupermarket gets underway in Prague on Thursday. Now in its eighth year, the event – which organizers call a selling exhibition – is an alternative to commercial shopping in crowded malls, offering a selection of hundreds of designer items. The event was originally established for young local designers who didn’t have an outlet for their products. I asked Darina Zavadilová, the head of DesignSupermarket, if this was still the case:
Rachael Weiss is an Australian author with Czech roots, who has just published her second book about Prague, based on her own experience of living in the Czech capital. The memoir, called The Thing about Prague, is chock-full of entertaining stories about how she went about looking for a job, finding an apartment and trying to blend in with Czechs. On the occasion of the book launch, I asked Rachael Weiss what made her write yet another book dedicated to Prague: