An exhibition mapping the famous foreign productions of The Bartered Bride, perhaps the most popular Czech opera, gets underway at the Bedřich Smetana Museum in Prague this week. It traces the opera’s journey from its first production abroad, in St Petersburg, across leading opera houses all over the world.
Karel Kryl, perhaps the greatest Czech protest singer ever, was born on this day 75 years ago. Kryl’s spare and highly poetic songs such as Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Close the Gate, Little Brother), composed in the wake of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, reflected the frustrations of many Czechoslovaks and remain popular to this day. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the folk artist’s premature death at the age of 49.
The album Stínítko by Čáry života, a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Jan Boroš, has won the Apollo Critics’ Choice Award for Best LP of 2017. The award was presented at a ceremony in Prague’s Meetfactory on Wednesday evening. The debut album, mixing lo-fi electronics and acoustic instruments, was released on label Bumbum Satori and was also nominated for this year’s Vinyla Award. Among other contenders for the Apollo award were Floex & Tom Hodge, Manon Meurt or Povodí Ohře.
Ondřej Pivec plays organ with one of the biggest stars in world jazz, singer Gregory Porter. This makes Pivec, who is in his mid-30s, perhaps the most successful non-classical Czech musician of his generation. When we met at a café in his Brooklyn neighbourhood, the conversation took in his struggles to establish himself in New York, the specific nature of performing in churches and his live baptism of fire with Porter. But first Ondřej Pivec explained how a stay of several months in the Big Apple 10 years ago turned into a long-term move that tranformed
The roots of Czechoslovak punk stretch 40 years back, to a concert of an alternative band called Extempore. The gig took place on February 23, 1979 in a Prague pub U Zábranských, and featured several cover versions of well-known punk hits. How has the Czech punk scene developed since then? And does punk music still resonate with today’s audiences? Find out more in this edition of Sunday Music Show.
Václav Hudeček got his first violin at the age of five and at 15 he performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The exceptionally talented young man studied at the Prague Music Conservatory and was one of David Oistrakh’s last students. In a career spanning more than half a century Hudeček has performed the world over, playing in the most prestigious venues and appearing at festivals in Europe, Japan, and Australia. Hudeček has also presented master classes in Canada, Germany, and Japan, and runs an annual academy for promising young Czech
Czech pop-singer Václav Neckář is perhaps best-known for his role of Jiří Hrma in the Oscar-winning film Closely Watched Trains by Jiří Menzel. He enjoyed his biggest popularity as a singer in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Golden Kids trio. Despite recently turning 75, Neckář continues to perform and sell out concert halls all around the country.
Czech folk-rock band Divokej Bill recently celebrated 20 years of existence with 18,000 fans cheering in a sold-out O2 arena. The band, which hails from the town of Úvaly near Prague, was founded by singer and guitarist Václav Bláha. Since 1998 it has released 13 studio records as well as a number of singles and music videos.
The band Lake Malawi will represent the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Tel Aviv in May. The indie-pop band, formed in 2013 by the singer and guitarist Albert Černý, garnered the most votes in the Czech national round, leaving behind seven other finalists. I spoke to Lake Malawi’s frontman about their success and I started by asking why they decided to take part in the Eurovision contest:
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