Hundreds of people packed Prague’s main railway station on Monday for the
traditional performance of Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass, the most
popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written which resounds in
millions of households during the festive season.
The tradition, launched 19 years ago by conductor Lukáš Prchal, involves musicians and professional singers, but anyone who has a musical instrument or a passion for music can come and join in the performance or simply enjoy the music.
One of the staples of 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 during the Christmas season. 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 Christmas Mass
The Czech Christmas Mass was performed for the 17th year in succession at
Prague’s busy Main Train Station on Saturday afternoon. Musicians and
choir members were joined by scores of members of the public in a rendition
of the pastoral mass by composer Jan Jakub Ryba.
Dozens of choristers were conducted by the organiser of the pre-Christmas event, Lukáš Prchal. The composition, known colloquially as “Rybovka”, was also performed with public participation on Kampa, beneath Prague’s Charles Bridge.
Jakub Jan Ryba’s Czech Christmas Mass is undoubtedly one of the symbols of Czech Christmas, along with fried carp and Christmas cookies. Composed by a small-town teacher in 1796, the pastoral mass has become the most popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written. At this time of the year it resounds in churches and concert halls across the country, but also beyond its borders. Recently, the Czech Christmas Mass premiered in Tokyo.
Forty cinemas around the country will offer the public a live transmission of a Czech Christmas staple – Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass- performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague’s prestigious Rudlfinum Concert Hall. The concert will take place on December 20th and is completely sold out. A number of cameras backstage will also give cinemagoers a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes. A similar live transmission from the Rudolfinum in October of Antonin Dvořák’s From the New World symphony was a huge success.
Czech legislators from across the political spectrum will be joining with colleagues from the British Houses of Parliament to sing the Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba in Saint Vitus Cathedral Saturday evening. The event is now in its third year and was first conceived by a 90-member choir of English parliamentarians and parliament employees who gathered to sing the Czech mass in 2007.
One Christmas carol that doesn't hail from the Czech Republic is the one about Good King Wenceslas, although he is this country's patron Saint and ruled here in the 10th century, until he was disposed of by the fratricidal Boleslav. The snow hasn't exactly been "deep and crisp and even" either so far this winter, but there is plenty of Christmas spirit about. Christmas Eve is the big day for Czech children, when "Jezisek" - the Infant Jesus - brings the presents, after the family has enjoyed a meal of fried carp and potato salad. And there is also