This week in Mailbox: The winner of Radio Prague's Annual Competition, Helmut Matt from Germany, visits Radio Prague with his wife Linda, while enjoying their weeklong stay in Prague - the first prize in the competition.
As every Sunday, it's Mailbox on Radio Prague - a programme in which we read from your letters, answer your questions and also run listeners' competitions. While we are on that topic, we had some very special visitors at Radio Prague this week...
"My name is Helmut Matt, I come from Germany, exactly from the southwest of Germany near Freiburg. My name is Linda Matt and I'm from the state of Wisconsin from the United States."
Regular listeners to our broadcasts will remember that Mr Matt was chosen as the winner of this year's big Radio Prague essay contest. As 2004 is officially Year of Czech Music, the competition question was: "What does Czech music mean to you?" Mr Matt won with his essay on the symphonic poem Vltava by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. (You can find the English translation of Mr Matt's essay on our website in the Mailbox section.)
The first prize was a week in Prague for two, sponsored by the Hotel Adria Praha and Czech Airlines. While in Prague, Helmut Matt and his wife Linda also came in to Radio Prague, and I took the opportunity to talk to them. I first asked Mr Matt when he had started listening to Radio Prague, or Radio Prag, to be more precise.
Helmut: "I have been listening to Radio Prague since 1974, to the German service, it was on medium wave then. I didn't listen during the 1980s and 1990s because of my studies. So I had to get back to my hobby a bit and I restarted listening to shortwave again at the end of the last century."
Did you always listen only to the German service of Radio Prague?
Helmut: "I usually listen to the German section but as the English service starts right after the German service on the CzechLink package satellite, I sometimes also listen to the English service."
Do you also listen to Radio Prague, [Linda]?
Linda: "Well, it is mostly Helmut's hobby but since he listens to the radio in our living room I'm always there as well, and depending on what the topic is I always listen, too."
What is reception like in Germany?
Helmut: "With the CzechLink package, it's very good, it's excellent, and on shortwave it depends on the frequency. In the last period, the afternoon programme of the German service was very good and the second at 18.30 CET was a bit of a problem."
In your competition entry you wrote about Vltava by Bedrich Smetana. Do you have any special relationship to that piece of music?
Helmut: "Yes, as I wrote in my little essay, I have known this music since I was a child. I love the music and I enjoy the beautiful melodic setting of the music."
How have you been enjoying your stay in Prague so far?
Helmut: "I just love it. It's my third time in Prague. The last time I was here was in 1984 and Prague has completely changed since then. It's a very, very lively city. Very many houses are restored and rebuilt and it's very beautiful."
Linda: "I was in Prague, too, with Helmut at that time in 1984. We were only there for about four days and it was the end of November, it was grey and it was rainy. It was the first time I'd ever been to - for me an Eastern country - because I came to Germany in 1984. It was an eye-opener but it was a bit depressing what everything looked like here. So my memories of Prague were partially negatively coloured and when we came this time I was just amazed how much has changed. We've spent a lot of time these couple of days walking around Prague, everywhere, almost just back and forth, looking at all the streets, and I could stand there in a street looking at a house front. It's just like I said, remarkable and amazing."
And have you had a chance to see a concert?
Helmut: "We had a folk concert yesterday evening, there are more concerts to go. On Wednesday we arranged to see The Magic Flute at the State Opera. We're invited to listen to Madam Butterfly on Thursday, by Radio Prague, thank you (laughs)."
Linda: "Since we are classical music fans, there is a lot that Prague has to offer and actually, we could probably go to a concert every day if we really had the time to do so."
Helmut: "There is so much cultural life here."
Linda: "The concert that we heard yesterday was typical Czech, Moravian and Bohemian music. We, both of us, very much like folk music. And it was a fun evening."
That was Linda Matt and her husband Helmut, Radio Prague's listener from Germany who came to Prague to pick up the first prize in Radio Prague's annual competition, which was a week's stay for two in Prague.
Apart from the annual competition, Radio Prague also runs monthly quizzes in which you can win CDs of Czech music. And here is the question for the month of November, the 11th in a row of questions about Czech music. "One of the most famous polkas, a big hit during the Second World War, which is to this day played and sung in many countries of the world under different names, was composed by a Czech. We'd like to know the name of the composer and the name of the famous polka in whichever language you prefer."
You have until the end of November to send your answers to Radio Prague, English Section, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic, or much quicker by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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