03-04-2005

In this week's programme we have reactions to "Czechs in Toronto" series, we talk about Czech composer Julius Fucik and announce the winner of our March competition. We quote from letters sent to us by: Chris Kearns, US; Peter Rohel, Canada; Karl Strauss, UK.

Welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's listeners' feedback programme. Today we will be announcing the winner of our March listeners' competition but first of all let's hear some of the reactions to Radio Prague's series on Czechs in Canada compiled by Jan Velinger.

Chris Kearns from the US wrote in response to a programme on the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto:

"I heard one of your programmes about people who escaped Czechoslovakia and emigrated to Canada, settling in the Toronto area. Sonja Bata was one of the people you featured. It was fascinating to hear of a museum devoted to Bata shoes, and how shoes could be used as an artefact in understanding a people's culture."

Peter Rohel, a Canadian of Czech descent wrote:

"Thank you for doing the Toronto series. If you don't mention father Libor Svorcik of St. Wenceslaus Church, you will not do justice to the Czech community in Toronto. He is one of the best things that happened in our community for many years. Czech and Slovak families, especially the children, love his pleasant demeanour and guidance. It would be nice if you could list the number of Czechs living in Toronto, Ontario or Canada (I have no idea)."

Jan recorded the interviews during his stay in Canada and he's now back in Prague. I'm sure there are dozens and dozens of Czechs in Toronto who have interesting stories to tell and who work for the local Czech community. Perhaps some time in the future when someone from Radio Prague gets a chance to travel to Canada again, we will bring you interviews with some of those Czechs who Jan did not meet during his trip.

On a different topic, Karl Strauss from Surrey in the United Kingdom has sent us this question:

"I would like to know more about the Czech composer and conductor Julius Fucik. I understand he was born in Prague in 1872 the son of a well-sinker."

I delved into the Czech Radio document archives but hard as I tried, I did not find a word about Julius Fucik's parents. Maybe it's because in the last fifty years Julius Fucik was always somewhat overshadowed by his nephew of the same name, a hero of communist anti-Nazi resistance during WW2 - Julius Fucik, the author of the world-known Report from the Gallows also known as Notes from the Gallows. But back to his uncle, the composer.

Julius Fucik was born in 1872. As a child, he learnt to play the bassoon and later studied composition under Antonin Dvorak. Dvorak predicted that he would be a good military orchestra conductor, which indeed came true. Fucik first played the bassoon in a military orchestra in Krems and Vienna and in the Zagreb opera orchestra. There he finished with active playing and became the conductor of the military orchestras in the town of Sisak (in today's Croatia) and Sarajevo (today's Bosnia and Herzegovina). In 1900 Fucik became the conductor of Budapest's military orchestra, and there he promoted Czech music and also composed his own. A decade later in Berlin, he decided to quit conducting and established a music publishing house. His work remained unfinished as he died suddenly at the age of 44. Perhaps the most famous pieces by Julius Fucik are his marches "The Entry of the Gladiators", "Florentine" and "Hercegovac".

 

Moving on now - as every year, Radio Prague runs a special competition for all its listeners.

To enter, just send us a few sentences on the following subject:

"What Czech beer means to me."

The winner will receive a week's stay for two in the Czech Republic, while runners-up will receive other attractive prizes.

The winning entry will be read on all six Radio Prague's different language broadcasts.

The winner and a friend will be accommodated in family style in the heart of Prague, at the Hotel Falkensteiner Maria Prag, while your flight will be courtesy of Czech Airlines - your travel partner to the Czech Republic.

Please send your entries to the following address before June 15th:

Radio Prague, Vinohradska 12, 12099, Prague 2, Czech Republic or you can use our e-mail address cr@radio.cz

That's for our annual essay competition but we also run small, monthly contests in which this year we ask about famous people of Czech descent. Each month the winner receives a CD of Czech music.

In March we asked you to tell us the name of the man who was President of Brazil in the latter half of the 1950s and launched an immense public works programme, including construction of roads, hydroelectric projects and also the new capital city, Brasília.

This time we received an unusual number of wrong answers. Our man was not Antonio Carlos Jobim, the legend of Brazilian Bossa Nova dance, nor Eduardo Gomes, nor Fernando Henrique Cardoso who was Brazil's president from 1995-2003, nor General Eurico Gasper Dutra and not even architect Lucio Costa who's sometimes called the Father of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

The mystery man, of course, is Joscelino Kubitschek.

And this month the lucky winner is Erik Koie from Denmark.

Congratulations, and your prize is in the post!

We only have a bit of time left to announce the question for the month of April.

"The Battle of Prague was once a very popular piece of battle music. It was composed in 1788 in London and published in the same year in Dublin. The descriptive piece quickly gained enormous popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. The author of the piece was born in 1730 in Prague and died in 1791 in London. What is the name of the composer?"

Please make sure your answers reach us by the end of April at the usual address: Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz.

03-04-2005