Despite being in his early 30s, Martin Mucha is already a successful Czech businessman in New York. Many locals may know Igluu, the real estate website he co-founded which claims to be the largest source of verified home listings in the Big Apple. Apart from looking into ways of expanding and innovating the company, Mr. Mucha also plays an active role among America’s Czech community. I recently had the chance to catch up with him and began by asking when he first decided to be an entrepreneur.
One of the most accomplished Czech Jazz guitarists, Rudy Linka, first gained fame abroad after moving to Sweden in 1980 and later learning from jazz titans such as John Scofield and John Abercrombie in the USA. Today he lives mainly in New York, but has also become a popular music personality in his native Czech Republic, founding one of Europe’s biggest summer jazz festivals and hosting his own shows on Czech Television and Radio. We caught up with him in Prague, while he was preparing this year’s Bohemia Jazz Festival.
Bohemia JazzFest, one of the largest summer music festivals in Europe, gets
underway on Monday evening in Prague.
Headlining on Monday at the Old Town Square is the Stefano Bollani Quartet from Italy. Also on the programme is Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and his quartet and the Lorenz Kellhuber Piano Trio from Germany.
Bohemia JazzFest was launched in 2006 by acclaimed jazz guitarist Rudy Linka. It now draws nearly 100,000 jazz fans to historic town squares throughout the Czech Republic.
All the concerts are open-air, free of charge, and feature headline performers playing in medieval settings.
Dr. Miloš Krajný is one of a number of people who have just received the Gratias Agit, the Czech Foreign Ministry’s award for those who have promoted the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. A highly successful expert on allergies and immunity in his professional life, he has also devoted a lot of energy to advancing Czech music in Canada, the country he has called home since 1968. Dr. Krajný was born in 1941 and when we spoke I first asked what, if any, were his recollections of the war.
Thomas Zaruba, author of the best-selling jazz album Slow Down, is a pianist of Australian-Canadian-Czech origin living in France. Although he was born into a cosmopolitan family of musicians and started playing the piano at the age of two, he opted for a career in advertising and it was a tragic incident that made him turn his life around and devote himself exclusively to music. When Thomas visited Radio Prague this week I asked him what had prompted him to drop everything and pursue his life’s passion.
A century ago the Czech community in New York was centred around the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Indeed, an estimated 40,000 Czechs lived in the area known as Yorkville. Ed Chlanda’s family were members of that community and the 80-year-old kindly gave me a tour of the neighbourhood, taking in a former Czech bank, the street where he grew up, the Jan Hus church and the Bohemian National Hall. But we started at the New York Sokol on East 71st St., where Chlanda is an active member. Surrounded by photos, medals and other memorabilia in the Sokol
Joseph Balaz is president of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, which brings together the leading Czech organisations in New York. But Balaz’s main activity is running a successful construction firm that brings him into contact with global celebrities and the cream of Manhattan society. Not bad for a student from Prague’s Žižkov who escaped from communist Czechoslovakia with little more than the clothes on his back. The man born Josef Baláž spoke to me at the splendid Bohemian National Hall, the completion of whose renovation he personally
In 2017 director Marie Dvořáková followed the likes of Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis and her compatriot Jan Svěrák in winning the Student Academy Award for her film Who’s Who in Mycology. When we spoke in New York, the filmmaker told me the short had a long gestation – and that she was currently working on not one but three new projects. But I first asked Marie Dvořáková what had drawn her to film in the first place.