Simon Broughton is a successful British television director whose work includes a number of documentaries on music from around the world, shot in locations ranging from Portugal to Afghanistan. He is also editor of Songlines magazine, a leading British periodical devoted to world music as well as co-editor of the acclaimed Rough Guide to World Music.
Few people over the last half century have made an impact on Czech classical music that comes anywhere close to that of the composer Viktor Kalabis, who died on 28th September at the age of 83. His work emerges from a great musical tradition that includes Stravinsky and Martinu, and his compositions are typically characterized by a sense of drama combined with a strong feel for inner musical logic. Viktor Kalabis was also a brilliant organizer. The legacy of his twenty years as Music Director at Czechoslovak Radio that ended in 1972 is felt to
In the Arts this week we look at Prague's annual Music on Film - Film on Music festival or MOFFOM as it's known, which was held for the third time last week. This year's festival was bigger and better than ever, and brought dozens of films about music to the Czech capital. These ranged from classic full-length features like Julien Temple's The Great Rock 'n'Roll Swindle starring The Sex Pistols to documentaries, experimental movies and promotional videos.
Hedy Fromings was born Hedvika Honigenova in 1926. In the late 1940s she left Czechoslovakia, moving to the UK - where she had spent the war years - with her English husband. To maintain ties with her home country she became an active member of the British Czech Friendship League and a spin-off organisation, the Beskydy Dancers music and dance group; she eventually became the leader of the latter almost three decades ago.
A number of years ago the Czech band Krystof - led by frontman Richard Krajco - broke onto the Czech pop scene with their first album "Magneticke Pole" (Magnetic Fields), their single "Lolita" bringing them overnight success. Since then, the band has released four more albums, including the critically acclaimed "Mikrokosmos". But, none was perhaps more anticipated than its latest "Rubikon", which some Czech critics are already calling one of Krystof's best. The lead single has climbed to third spot on the charts (in popular TV music programme Eso)
On Tuesday the first ever festival of comic art in Prague - KomiksFEST2006 - officially opened at the Svetozor art theater, just a stone's throw from Wenceslas Square. Twelve locations around the city will host KomiksFEST events, which run the gamut from exhibitions of graphic art to movies and plays. The festival highlights the work of Czech artists like Jiri Grus and Karel Jerie, and is designed to attract comics lovers as well as the general public.
It's been nine years since Czech readers have had a chance to buy a new novel by Milan Kundera, but at last the most eagerly anticipated release will hit bookstore shelves this week. The novel that made Milan Kundera an international success, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," has been published in Czech by Brno-based Atlantis Publishing.
Natasa Newton is one of the founders of the Anglo-Czechoslovak Trust, an organisation established not long after the fall of communism, in 1990. Its main aim was to foster ties between young Czech and Slovak music students and their counterparts in the UK - in all over 900 students have so far taken part in the programme. Natasa Newton told me all about the Trust when we met at her London home last week, though I first asked her about her own background.
Six years ago Czech film director David Ondricek scored a huge hit in the Czech Republic with the film "Samotari" - or "Loners" - a hip and funny comedy depicting the quirky and wayward lives of twentysomethings in the Czech capital. Ever since, audiences have come to expect a lot from the director -more so following the disappointment that was his third film "One Hand Can't Clap". Now, the director is back with "Grand Hotel" (Grandhotel in Czech) - just released in the cinemas. What's the film about? In today's Arts you'll find out.