Carp and Carols on Christmas Eve

24-12-2006

One Christmas carol that doesn't hail from the Czech Republic is the one about Good King Wenceslas, although he is this country's patron Saint and ruled here in the 10th century, until he was disposed of by the fratricidal Boleslav. The snow hasn't exactly been "deep and crisp and even" either so far this winter, but there is plenty of Christmas spirit about. Christmas Eve is the big day for Czech children, when "Jezisek" - the Infant Jesus - brings the presents, after the family has enjoyed a meal of fried carp and potato salad. And there is also a long tradition of sitting round the tree singing carols. In this programme, we'll be enjoying some traditional music from the Czech countryside - finding out what the Virgin Mary had for breakfast in the old Czech legend, and what words of warning Saint Elizabeth has for her sister in a Moravian carol. We'll also be exploring different ways of performing one of the best loved pieces of Czech Christmas music - the 18th century Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba, and finding out just how different it sounds when played on original Baroque instruments, as I talk to musician and carp-lover, Jana Semeradova.

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