Some of the best Czech films of the 1960s and 70s, such as Markéta Lazarová, Shop on Main Street, and The Cremator, have one thing in common, besides the country of origin: the author of the score, Zdeněk Liška. Only a few recordings of his music came out independently; most recently, the British label Finders Keepers published his soundtrack of The Little Mermaid. In this edition of Panorama, we look the life and work of this prolific composer, and one of the most versatile artists in the field.
Kdyby tisíc klarinetů, or If a Thousand Clarinets, is a charming 1964 Czech musical film featuring a host of stars of the day, including singers Waldemar Matuška, Karel Gott, Eva Pilarová and Hana Hegerová, the great songwriters and musicians Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, and actors such as Jana Brejchová, Vlastimil Brodský and (not wearing his director’s cap) Jiří Menzel.
The 13th edition of the annual international music festival Colours of Ostrava kicks off in the eastern city of Ostrava on Thursday. One of the biggest such events in central Europe, the festival’s line-up this year features more than a hundred bands and artists including the singer Robert Plant, the US bands The National and MGMT and as well as a number of Czech performers. The festival, which is held in a former mining and industrial complex in Dolní Vítkovíce, runs until Sunday; some 35,000 people are expected to attend.
The 12th annual Masters of Rock festival, which wrapped up on Sunday in the Zlín region, saw 25,000 visitors this year – over 3,000 more than last, according to organisers. Over four days fans turned up to see bands including Dream Theater, Sabaton, Anthrax and Helloween. Also popular was a project entitled Rocksymphony performed by the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra together with Czech rock star Marta Jandová.
The Prague Proms International Music Festival is well underway and this Friday offers something special: a concert by up-and-coming Czech singer Patricie and British musician Robin Banerjee (former guitarist for the late soul, rhythm and blues and jazz great Amy Winehouse). They, along with additional musicians, have collaborated on a project called Moods. One recording, 1929, is already getting a lot of attention.
Vladimíra Krčková recently performed at Life Fashion Café in Prague. She sang songs like “Once I had a secret love”, originally written for Doris Day in the 1950s. Standards like this one form the core of Krčková’s repertoire. Most pieces she performs are English-language tunes, but the singer also throws in the occasional French chanson and Spanish classics.
One of the more interesting bands performing around the Czech Republic this summer are Kon Sira, who play traditional songs of the Sephardic Jews as well as Balkan music. The group’s Kateřina Garcia herself has an unusually interesting background: Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha was her great-grandfather, while one of her grandfathers was a Spanish Civil War veteran who fled to Russia. Kateřina has lived in Spain and here in the Czech Republic but is now based in Dublin, where she teaches at Trinity College. When we met, I first asked where her
Dol Dauber was the central figure in one of the leading Czech dance or jazz band groups of the interwar years. Between Europe wide appearances, Dauber often headed the bill during the summer season at Mariánské Lázně’s plush hotels with the spa providing inspiration for many of his compositions. Dauber’s band also featured in several Czech film hits.
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