Sylva Šimsová was 18 when her father, a Social Democrat politician, told her the family had to escape from Czechoslovakia. It was 1949, a year after the Communists had taken power. The young Sylva insisted that her fiancé, whom she had met through her beloved scouts only six months earlier, come with them. Remarkably, almost 70 years later she and her husband – a composer and broadcaster who goes by the name Karel Janovický – are still together.
Every year in October the Czech Republic honours those who have contributed significantly to promoting the country’s good name abroad. This year, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg bestowed the annual Gratias Agit awards on thirteen personalities from around the world to thank them for their work. On occasion of the country’s national holiday we bring you the thoughts and experiences of three Czechs who live abroad, but who never severed ties with their homeland and are proud of their Czech roots and national heritage.
Leos Janacek's Glagolitic Mass was composed in 1926. One of the great choral works of the 20th century, it is sung on special occasions and is a big challenge even for a Czech choir. However the Manchester Halle choir passed the test with flying colours on Sunday, after weeks of gruelling work and coaching from Karel Janovicky, a well known Czech composer residing in London. We asked Mr. Janovicky what difficulties the choir faced in the process of tackling this choral masterpiece.