31-03-2002

Today's Mailbox includes: Topics: Radio Prague's new broadcasting schedule. The Antonin Dvorak Museum. Prague's Vysehrad castle. The city of Usti nad Labem. Quotes from: Stuart Paterson, Alastair Pamphilon, Alice Novak, Danny Jameson, Kazuho Kudo

Yes, another week is over, and it's time for yet another edition of Mailbox. There are so many letters to be answered, it's hard to keep up and it makes you realise how fast time flies.

It certainly does, April starts tomorrow and with it our new broadcasting schedule. The summer season will see some changes in our program, most of which we have already talked about, but to sum up, here is the head of our English service, Vladimir Tax.

There are actually some big changes in the schedule, we have rearranged the programme a little bit and, what is more important, we have introduced several new features.

As of now, you will hear One on One, our interview show, every Monday. On Tuesdays, Talking Point will alternate with Central Europe Today. Now, on Wednesday, we have two new features - every week, you can hear ABC of Czech in which we unravel the mysteries of the Czech language. It'll be followed alternatively by Czechs in History and Profile, which is also a new feature, looking at the lives of contemporary Czechs. There is no change on Thursday, your weekly Economics Report as usual, Friday's Magazine remains in place, too. If you wondered what has become of Monday's Spotlight, as of now, it will be on every Saturday, followed alternatively by our music shows and readings from Czech literature. Sunday remains unchanged, with the arts programme, a Letter From Prague, and of course, Mailbox.

Thank you, Vladimir, you did mention a lot of programs there, and just in case any of our listeners didn't catch all of them, I'd just like to add that they can find our program schedule on Radio Prague's web-site, that's www.radio.cz, or we'll gladly send it to them in print, if they write for it at our postal address - Radio Prague, 120 99 Prague 2, Czech Republic.

But there's no need to ask for our schedule if we have your address on our mailing list, all regular listeners have either already received the new schedule, or will receive it in a day or two.

So, once more, if you are on our mailing list, there's no need to ask for our summer schedule, we always send our new schedules to all regular listeners.

As for the program, I don't know whether we'll satisfy everybody, as we keep stressing, there's just so much that you can include in a 30 minute program, and I do hope we won't disappoint Stuart Paterson from Shardlon in the United Kingdom who writes

"I hope your new features in the Summer time table will include more about the studio staff, if possible - their hobbies, holidays, favourite parts of the world, likes and dislikes..."

Well, we do introduce all new members of the staff when they first join our station. And, of course, you can see photos of staff members in our schedules. I'm afraid that's all we have time for, but I do think you can tell something about us by our programs, which are most important, I'd say.

So, let's look at the next letter. Alastair Pamphilon, from Chislehurst, Kent, England asks

"Is there a museum dedicated to the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak in Prague and could you please tell me, where he is buried?"

Yes, there is a Dvorak Museum in Prague. It was founded in 1932 and from the very beginning it has been situated in a lovely baroque country villa which has kept its medieval charm even though nowadays, with Prague expanding, it's actually in the centre of town and no longer in what used to be its outskirts.

It's a perfect setting for the museum's activities, concerts are held there, as well as various lectures and special exhibitions.

But the museum's permanent exhibits are really lovely, too, with many documents about Dvorak's life and work. They include the composer's library, many photographs and much of his own work, 80 percent of the scores written by Dvorak himself that have been preserved, are to be found in the museum and experts from all over the world come to study them.

The museum also has close contacts with various Dvorak institutions throughout the world, including the British Dvorak Society, to name just one.

The Dvorak Museum is a part of the Czech National Museum, its Music Department, which also looks after the building in Nelahozeves, where Dvorak was born. His father was a butcher and inn keeper in Nelahozeves and wanted his son to take over the business. As a very young man Antonin Dvorak actually worked as a butcher there for two years. Anyway, that building is still preserved and is a part of the Dvorak Museum.

Which reminds me- we haven't answered Alastair Pamphilon's second question - where is Dvorak buried. The answer is: in the Vysehrad cemetery in Prague, where many well known Czech composers, writers, and artists are buried. More than 600 famous persons are buried there.

The cemetery is just a small part of the Vysehrad complex, which is situated high above the Vltava River, on the other side from the Prague castle. Which brings me to a question from Alice Novak in Melbourne, Australia:

"My grandmother, who came to Australia from what was then Czechoslovakia says that the historic castle, which is the official residence of President Havel, is not the oldest castle in Prague. Is that correct?"

Well, Alice, it is and it isn't. Hradcany Castle, the seat of the Czech Head of State is the oldest standing castle in Prague. It overlooks the left bank of the Vltava River. But the castle first built here was on a hill on the river's right bank and that's Vysehrad. It was the seat of the first king of Bohemia, Vratislav 2nd in the 11th century. The only Vysehrad building dating back to that time and still standing is a small circular church - the St.Martin Rotunda, the oldest Romanesque historic monument in Prague.

The rest of the Vysehrad castle was razed in various battles and nowadays you can only see the foundations of some of the buildings of the old castle.

What you can see there today, was built much, much later. The neo-gothic Church of St Peter and Paul on the Vysehrad rock, for example, which is one of Prague's dominant features, was only built in the 19th Century.

But enough about Prague, let's turn to other parts of the country, and answer a question sent by Danny Jameson from Runcorn, in Cheshire, England

"Looking through Runcorn's local paper recently I found an article which told me that the borough of Hallton, of which Runcorn is a part, was twinned with a place in the Czech Republic called Usti nad Labem. Could you give me any information about it?"

Usti nad Labem is an important industrial centre in North Bohemia. It's on the Elbe River, not far from the border with Germany, Saxony, to be exact, and it's location tells you much about its significance - past and present. As far as the past is concerned, Usti nad Labem dates back to the 11th Century and throughout the centuries it was an important river port, and above all, an important Czech fortification against Saxonian influences. In one of those battles, in 1426 it was completely burned down.

But soon after it was built up again and as we've said, it is an important industrial and trade centre, with a huge chemical industry, glass and textile industries, etc.

It also has a university and it's an important cultural centre. As for the twinning with Hallton, England, this is the first we've heard about it. So maybe we'll have a look into that in one of our future programs.

When we have the time - as we said in the beginning of today's Mailbox, we cannot possibly cover all the interesting topics we would like. But judging from many listeners' letters, it seems we are giving a good over-all picture about life in the Czech Republic. Kazuho Kudo from Tokyo, Japan is one of those who seem to think so:

"My birthday is March 15th, so by the time you read this letter I will be 37 years old. I listened to Radio Prague for the first time when I was 14, so I have been a fan of Radio Prague for 23 years. I have learned many things about the Czech Republic through Radio Prague and I feel as if it was our neighbour."

Thank you, Kazuho - you've summed up what short wave radio is all about and what we are trying to achieve.

And that's a nice note on which to end today's Mailbox. This is Dita Asiedu and Olga Szantova looking forward to hearing from you, and, since we talked about the Dvorak Museum in today's Mailbox, how about ending it with one of his Serenades.

31-03-2002