13-08-2006

In early July we announced the winner of Radio Prague's annual competition in which we asked you to identify three sounds connected to Prague. This year, the winner of a trip to Prague is Dimitriy Balykin from Russia. The English translation of his entry can be viewed on our website. Instead of our usual Mailbox programme today, you have a chance to hear the full entries by the two finalists chosen by the English Section.

They are Mr Alon Raab from the United States and Mr Brian Kendall from the United Kingdom. So let's first hear "The sounds of Prague" by Alon Raab.

Announcing the next Metro stop, a declaration of freedom, the movement of time (and life and death as well) - three sounds of the city of Prague.

Stations: Traveling under the city's streets, burrowing through the belly of the earth, stations zoom by. The next Prague Metro stop is announced and we are getting ready to embark. The facts and numbers are plain- First proposed in 1898 by Ladislav Rott and opened (several wars and revolutions later in 1974, the system is over 54 kilometers long with new tunnels built under the Vltava waters. But facts never tell the whole story. The colors of the lines are green, yellow, and red, colors of trees, sun, and blood, colors of life. Laid out as triangle, the system mirrors the Greek philosopher Pythagoras' favorite symbol, one reflecting perfect harmony. Criss-crossing the metropolis the transfer stations of Mustek, Muzeum, and Florenc move us from one line to another, opening to new possibilities. "Ukoncete prosim vystup a nastup, dvere se zaviraji" (Please finish exiting and boarding the train, the doors are closing) and "pristi stanice" (Next station) are heard. The doors for the train of life are always opening and closing, closing and opening, and at least for a while we are offered a chance to start again, as we emerge from darkness to light.

Freedom: "Rise to Arms" is a cry heard in many lands and eras. On the morning of May 5th 1945, this ancient call was broadcast across the Radio Prague airwaves. With antecedents stretching back to 1919, the station bearing the city's name, has always reflected, as well as shaped, the city and nation's times. That May morning was one of the station's most important moments as the Prague uprising against the Nazi invaders began. Heeding the call, many rushed to the station, to defend it, and many were killed. 33 years later, in August 1968, radio Prague again was a focal point. Rallying the people to defend the newly gained freedoms of the Prague Spring. Regimes collapse and new freedoms have been gained, but freedom - from want, hunger, fear - and for justice and equality is still worth fighting for.

Time: The Astronomical Clock in Prague's old Town Hall Tower chimes every hour. The creation of clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan and Prague University Rector Jan Sindel, like all clocks, this 14th century masterpiece tells the time. It does however do much more as it reminds us of several other important thins, often forgotten in the bustle of our lives. It pays homage to the heavens (with the Zodiac symbols) and reminds us hourly how brief this dance of life is. As Christ and his apostles, the skeleton of Death, and the representations of avarice and Vanity all make their appearances, we are forced to think beyond the momentary. Last, it is the turn of the he cock to emerge, its flapping of its wings another call to start each moment as if it were your first breath.

That was "The Sounds of Prague" by Alon Raab. The other finalist in English was Brian Kendall from England and this is his entry.

Memories are Made of This

These recordings all have memories for me and for different reasons. The first recording. This is of the Prague Metro. How useful this modern underground was for us when we stayed in Prague in August, 1992. I recall that our nearest station was Vltavska and that from there we were soon transported to Prague's famous sights. I still have one of the two day tickets we bought for the public transport system: Turisticka Sitova Jizdenka, price 40 crowns. As well as taking us to Prague's historic past, I remember that we went on the metro for our evening of Czech folk music at the Mestska knihovna Theatre. This was a delight to me because I had listened to such music over Radio Prague during the Communist era with very little expectation of hearing it in Prague itself. Memories are made of this.

The second recording. This of the Czech Radio broadcasting in May 1945 during the Prague Rising. The broadcasts went out in English and Russian as well as in Czech. They were full of drama with appeals such as: "Czech radio calling for help... Hold out... Prague is in great danger..." This time the memory is quite different. In 1965, when I was still in my teens, Radio Prague sent me a record which included several snatches from World War II broadcasts made in the Czech lands. Amongst them is the sound of the Czech radio making those calls for help against the Nazis.

Memories are made of this, too.

The third recording. Here I am on less secure ground but I think it is of the Astronomical Clock on Prague's Town Hall. We certainly saw (and probably heard) the famous clock during that trip to Prague in 1992. This time the memory is sending my father a postcard of the clock. He was a watch and clock repairer by trade so a card inscribed "Staromestsky Orloj" seemed very appropriate for him. He kept it for the rest of his life and now I have it. Part of it reads: "I thought you would like this card of Prague's astronomical clock. It dates back to 1410. The upper disk shows the course of the sun and moon through the sky whilst the lower part indicates the months in pictures - or so the books say." Memories are certainly made of this.

 

The entries by the English section's two finalists there, read at the request of some of our listeners. And now it's time to repeat our monthly competition question for August.

"We would like you to tell us the name of the Czech-born tennis, soccer and ice hockey player who was born in 1895 and was this year inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame."

Please send us your answers by the end of the month to the usual address, English@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099, Prague.

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