For many lovers of classical music, the Czech Republic is the land of Dvořák and Smetana. Fans of more modern music may know Leoš Janáček or Bohuslav Martinů. It may seem, though, that for the past fifty or so years, creation of and even interest in orchestral music has all but died out in this country.
“Texas-Czech, Bohemian-Moravian Bands: Historic Recordings, 1929-1959” is a wonderful compilation featuring groups such as the Joe Patek Orchestra, Bacova’s Ceska Kapela and Adolph Pavlas and His Bohemians. One of Tom Waits’s favourite 20 LPs, the album offers a fascinating take on the dechovka (brass band) music that the Lone Star State’s huge Czech community brought with them from the old country.
Singer and songwriter Zuzana Michnová is one of the most distinct vocalists of the Czech folk rock scene. For many years, she was part of the legendary band Marsyas, and has also released an acclaimed solo album. After a long break, the band recently made a comeback, and can again be seen – and heard – in clubs across the country.
The director of a controversial television broadcast featuring the electronic music band Vanessa on Czech TV has told Lidové noviny he quit over the group's behavior, which he said had intended to 'disgust'.The band was recently featured on the show Tečka páteční noci on ČT Art, broadcast live from Czech TV's Brno studio. The group's singer, Samir Hauser, stunned some viewers as well as allegedly some on the production team, when he tried to do a line of cocaine off of a bible or later forced himself to vomit by sticking a finger in his throat. The host of the show downplayed the incident, saying that the drug was fake. He has stood by the broadcast, suggesting the group's behavior was not surprising given its image and that things could have gone 'worse'.
Musician Tomáš Kelar’s career began as drummer with the Welsh band Mountaineers, who rubbed shoulders with some big names when they signed to Mute Records. Now living back home in the Czech Republic, Kelar is a member of the highly regarded electronic group Midi Lidi and also produces the female rappers Čokovoko.
The leading US guitar player Gary Lucas may be best known for his work with the cult musician and artist Captain Beefheart (real name Don Van Vliet). His biggest commercial impact may have been as co-writer of tracks on the debut LP by the much loved Jeff Buckley. But – Lucas told me on a recent visit to Prague – very early in his career he also got the opportunity to work under one of the true greats of 20th century music, Leonard Bernstein.
This week’s Sunday Music show profiles a respected name on the Czech music scene -Dagmar Andrtova Vonkova. A self-taught guitarist, singer and song writer Vonkova seeks inspiration in folk music and draws on her own experiences, for a truly unique style that has captivated audiences at home and abroad.
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
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Rare Terezín concentration camp artefacts found in attic of private home
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott