Michael Kocáb has been active in politics (he oversaw the withdrawal of Russian troops from Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s) and business. However, he is best known as the leader of the rock group Pražský výběr, who were banned by the Communists in the 1980s before becoming a major live draw the following decade. Kocáb was the band’s singer and songwriter and, following the departure of the other founding members, now heads Pražský výběr II. He turned 65 on Sunday.
This week one of the country’s most famous annual music festivals, Colours of Ostrava, took place in the largest city of Czech Silesia. This year the festival boasted some truly major artists, including the legendary rock band The Cure, as well as Florence + The Machine, Rag’n’Bone Man and Mogwai. While the festival’s international line-up made it attractive to wide audiences, many of the country’s leading musicians also performed at the event. In this week’s Sunday Music Show we introduce you to some of their most famous tracks.
Prague is hosting a major traditional culture fest this week - the Prague Folklore Days. Around 50 amateur folklore ensembles from Europe, Asia and Africa have gathered in the Czech capital to show off their musical and dancing skills to the public in various parts of the city. The event launched on Thursday and will continue until Saturday evening.
The international multi-genre music festival Colours of Ostrava gets underway on Wednesday on the outskirts of the industrial Moravian city. The annual event has expanded exponentially since it launched in 2002 and now boasts 21 stages, and a wide range of discussions under the Meltingpot banner, plus film screenings and workshops. Radio Prague asked festival spokesman Jiří Sedlák about how it has changed and what visitors can look forward to.
Linguists from countries including China, Japan and France have gathered in Prague to attend the annual Susanna Roth Award, which gives young translators interested in Czech the opportunity to network and learn more about contemporary Czech literature. This year contestants were given the task of translating a selected text from the recent book I Wake Up in Shibuya written by critically acclaimed author Anna Cima.
Karel Gott, the undisputed king of Czech pop music, is celebrating his 80th birthday this Sunday. Over the course of his career, spanning over six decades, he sold over 50 million albums and collected over 40 Golden Nightingale Awards as the country’s most popular singer. Gott, who is also popular in abroad, especially in Germany and Russia, has recently successfully overcome cancer to return to the stage. On the occasion of this landmark birthday, he has recorded a new, symphonic version of his 1978 song called Jdi za štěstím, or Follow your happiness,
An exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution has just got underway at Prague’s Municipal House. Called Nezlomní, or The Steadfast, it showcases the work, but also personal diaries and correspondence, of 30 artists, active between the years 1919 and 1989, including Jindřich Štyrský, Toyen and Karel Nepraš. It also highlights their joint inspiration by the writings of Franz Kafka.
Animator Gene Deitch settled in Prague almost 60 years ago and directed Tom and Jerry and Popeye cartoons behind the Iron Curtain for the US market. The small number of other Americans who moved here in the communist period were one subject we discussed in the second half of an extensive interview. But I began by asking Deitch about the time the great folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger, a good friend of his, visited Czechoslovakia in 1964.
Gene Deitch, who turns 95 next month, is by some distance the US citizen longest resident in Prague. Deitch had run a successful animation studio in New York prior to the fateful meeting in 1959 with his future wife Zdenka that led him to settle in Prague soon after. From behind the Iron Curtain, he produced an Oscar-winning animated short, as well as directing Tom and Jerry and Popeye cartoons for the American market.