Magazine

17-04-2004

The violin that's different from all others but still makes sweet music. Record breakers on the Old Town Square and the man who fell asleep at a rail crossing waiting for the train to pass.Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Miroslav Helebrant drinks raw eggs, photo: CTKMiroslav Helebrant drinks raw eggs, photo: CTK We begin with a quick look back at what happened on the Old Town Square over the Easter weekend. All those who joined the egg drinking competition will not want to see an egg for a long time. How many raw eggs could you consume -in one go? The winner of this years contest was a young man - Miroslav Helebrant - who downed 30 eggs in just 38 seconds. Have you ever heard the old Czech saying that "Every Czech is a musician at heart"? If not you should have been on the Old Town Square this weekend. You would have seen a 15 year old Czech boy who can play 28 different musical instruments - and whose father can play 3,000 compositions by heart on the piano. And finally visitors to the square could admire a wooden Easter egg made of matchsticks and different colour matchstick heads. How many would you need? Simple: 4877 matchsticks and 9988 matchstick heads. Oh, and 674 hours to spare. By the way there was plenty more to be seen - as there is each year - and it may interest you to know that unless these records are edible - they do not disappear. You will find them at the Pelhrimov Museum of Curiosities.

 

Marble violin, photo: CTKMarble violin, photo: CTK The Prague Museum boasts a most unusual exhibit - a marble violin which is perfectly capable of making sweet music. The marble violin was a gift from Czech sculptor Jan Rericha who produced this unique musical instrument within the space of a fortnight. The man who brought the three and a half kilo violin to life was none other than Czech violin virtuoso Jaroslav Sveceny. And of course I realize you have to hear this to believe it -so here's what the famous marble violin sounds like : Violin.....

And what does playing a marble violin feel like?

"It's a very special feeling. I am still getting the feel of the instrument, because it is quite a new experience. I even have to be careful how I stand because if I were to lean forward I might well topple over. One learns all the time. I hope that one day I will be able to invite you to a marble violin concert and that someone will compose some fine music for this beauty. I would readily accept the challenge because a marble violin has its own characteristic sound which is different from that of a wooden instrument. This violin won't bring the house down or shatter glass but it brings me much delight to play it - it is an instrument you want to be left alone to play just for your own pleasure. "

The violin, which has made the Guinness Book of Records is made of green and white marble, with regular strings and wooden pegs. In some parts the marble is three millimetres thin -which is what makes the sound so good. Jaroslav Sveceny again :

"I have played a glass violin as well as a plastic one. I mean you can take an old shoe put in a few strings and when it's amplified you are ready to go. But what I love about this is that this doesn't need any amplification -this has its own quality sound and that's what makes it so special. When I see a plastic instrument and people say - hey what do you make of it - I tell them let me hear it without a mike. This plays all on its own - and it plays beautifully. "

And how does the sculptor of this unique piece -Jan Rericha -feel about it all?

"Quite frankly, when I look around this museum it warms my heart to see my marble violin here. There you see Adriaen de Vries' Hercules, Manes' Orloj and Langweil's model of Prague - well I'd say I am in good company aren't I?"

 

Statistics suggest that Czechs are Europe's third biggest tea drinkers after Ireland and Turkey. Last year tea consumption in the Czech Republic rose by 12.6 percent and the average Czech consumed 260 cups of tea - the most popular choices being black tea or fruit tea. There are some 120 tea rooms in the Czech Republic offering a wide variety of tees from around the world so finding "your cup of tea" is really not a problem. And there's another factor responsible for the increasing popularity of this drink - every spring Czech women literally buy up all the slimming teas on the market - and then they go to one of the country's cukrarny - sweetshop -and binge on the country's famous cream cakes. Thank God for tea!

 

The Prague town hall has had a brainwave! After months of racking their brains how to prevent the frequent theft of park benches from Prague's parks the authorities have finally hit on a solution. In addition to having the benches firmly entrenched in the ground - they have them made with a big warning etched into the metal. The warning reads "This bench was stolen from ...." And the name of the given park. Well, if thieves have a conscience - even a tiny one - it is bound to work. Let's just hope the benches don't become a collectors' item....

 

The lower house of Parliament and the Senate are at loggerheads about whether Czech radio and TV broadcasters should be made to speak grammatically and stylistically correct Czech. The "language law" as it has been dubbed was approved by the Lower House some time ago and stipulated that broadcasters should speak good Czech so as to preserve the country's lingual heritage. This week the Senate swept the bill off the table saying that it smacked of the old days of censorship.

 

The police cracked down on bad drivers again this week. The fourth nation wide operation code named Krystof is said to have scared many drivers into leaving their cars at home and taking the bus. However the traffic police had their hands full as usual. Some drivers weren't even in a state to pay their fine. A certain driver and his friend had a few drinks too many before setting off - indeed they were so fatigued by the drinking binge that they fell asleep waiting for the train to go by at a rail crossing. Drivers behind them honked their horns loud enough o wake the dead - but the two men slept on -until a couple of officers came and woke them up.

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