One of the greatest composers of the latter half of the twentieth century, Krzysztof Penderecki, will bring this year’s Prague Spring Music Festival to a close with his monumental work Seven Gates of Jerusalem (Symphony No. 7) on Friday night. He will be conducting the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. The 72nd Prague Spring Music Festival, which offered music lovers over forty concerts in different Prague venues, was marked by the death this week of the world renowned Czech conductor Jiří Belohlávek.
British architectural historian Barbara Peacock who cofounded the Friends of Czech Heritage fund to help restore the Czech Republic’s architectural heritage told the ctk news agency she would appreciate more volunteers from the Czech Republic. The vast majority of volunteers are British nationals who travel to the Czech Republic to help with the restoration of Czech castles and chateaux, gardens and landmarks and it would be good to have more mixed groups and interaction with Czech enthusiasts, Mrs. Peacock said. She had devoted much of her time these last ten years to help restore the Czech Republic’s architectural heritage and was recently honoured with a Point of Light Award by Prime Minister Theresa May for her work.
Speed skater Martina Sábliková will receive a state award for her outstanding representation of the Czech Republic, President Miloš Zeman said in an interview for commercial TV Barrandov. The president rarely discloses the names of people he intends to honour with awards on occasion of the country’s state holiday on October 28 in advance. Sáblikova has five Olympics medals, including three gold, 17 world champion titles and 11 victories in the world cup.
Czech leaders have criticised President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris global climate accord. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Twitter that abandoning the climate deal simply because it would temporarily afford a more comfortable life was a mistake. Mr. Sobotka said President Trump’s decision was a bad blow to the Paris agreement, but would not destroy it. This sentiment was echoed by Environment Minister Richard Brabec, who said the US president’s decision was bad news for the international community and environmental protection efforts.
The threat of media abuse in the Czech Republic will persist until ANO leader Andrej Babiš sells the media (Mafra media group) which he acquired in 2013 and put in a trust fund in order to meet a strict conflict of interest law, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists in connection with the European Parliament debate on the issue. Mr. Sobotka noted that the fact that the matter had been debated on a pan-European platform could only damage the country’s reputation. The prime minister recently dismissed Andrej Babiš from the post of finance minister on suspicion of tax dodging and attempts to influence media coverage. The move caused a drawn-out government crisis.
The Czech Republic is ranked 6th on the Global Peace Index comprising 163 countries. The GPI is an attempt to measure the relative position of nations' and regions' peacefulness. The survey is conducted by the London-based Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. IEP achieves its goals by developing new conceptual frameworks to define peacefulness; providing metrics for measuring peace; and uncovering the relationships between business, peace and prosperity as well as promoting a better understanding of the cultural, economic and political factors that create peace. Countries are rated according to the degree of crime, access to weapons, size of their army and contributions to peace missions.
The European Parliament debated the risks of political abuse of the Czech media on Thursday. The plenary debate was held in reaction to a leaked audio recording, in which the leader of the coalition ANO party, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, spoke to a journalist about media coverage that would damage his political rivals. Most MEPs noted that while there did not appear to be any fundamental threat to press freedom in the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis’ potential victory in the elections could create a serious problem. MEP Jan Zahradil of the Civic Democratic Party said the problem concerned a single politician and the answer would be to beat him in the elections. There was no formal conclusion to the debate.
Former finance minister Andrej Babiš, whose ANO party is widely expected to win the autumn general elections, has said the Czech Republic should not join the Eurozone. In an interview for the ctk news agency, Babiš said that adopting the euro would only burden the country with foreign debts and strip it of the crown which is an effecting instrument in managing economic crises. Babiš also spoke out in favour of the Czech National Bank retaining its independence. If the country joins the Eurozone it will have fewer opportunities for independent decision-making, Babiš said.
The world-renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek has died at the age of 71. Bělohlávek was one of the bright lights on the Czech cultural scene and an ambassador for Czech classical music the world over. He raised the prestige of the Czech Philharmonic, of which he was currently Music Director and Artistic Director, taking the classic music ensemble to the world’s leading stages. Bělohlávek served as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He has collaborated with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, and the Vienna State Opera, among others. The head of the Prague Spring Music Festival Roman Beloř, said the news was a bad blow for the Czech music scene and would throw a damper on the festival which Bělohlávek traditionally opened. Czech politicians, cultural figures and members of the public are mourning the loss of a great musician. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Bělohlávek’s demise was a huge loss not just for Czech but for world culture.
Olga Lomová: Western misconceptions could let China export much of its system and ultimately contribute to our enslavement
Hitler no ‘gentleman’, but court rules Czech state need not apologize for president’s claim Ferdinand Peroutka said so
Bertha von Suttner – Prague-born peace campaigner whose ideas on cooperation and disarmament continue to have lasting effect
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Communist party official shocks nation ahead of freedom celebrations
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Cold War “king of Šumava” story brought to life in new film by Irish director