It’s nearly midday and Prague’s Old Town Square is heaving with people taking photos of the astrological clock, tour groups which you can probably hear behind me, and pizzerias and Czech pubs selling lunchtime fare. But in the midst of all of this hubbub, there is one thing missing, and I’m joined here by Eva Skalická of Prague Town Council, who is here to tell me exactly what that thing is.
Hundreds of people used the opportunity on Tuesday to browse the collections of the Czech National Museum for free. The country’s biggest museum has opened its doors to the public to celebrate its 190th anniversary, which falls on the 15th of April. It’s also holding a series of other events to mark its birthday. But most of all it is getting ready for a major renovation project, that will get under way in three years’ time.
The One World (Jeden Svět) festival of human rights documentaries has established itself as one of the most interesting events on the Czech Republic’s cultural calendar, and the biggest festival of its kind in Europe. This year, to mark its 10th anniversary, One World (run by the NGO People in Need) is organising mini festivals in 10 cities around the world – including New York. At the opening at the city’s (under renovation) Bohemian National Hall on Monday night, I spoke to organiser Tereza Porybná.
Alphonse Mucha’s Art Nouveau paintings are among the most instantly recognisable works in Czech art. He himself considered the Slav Epic, a series of huge paintings depicting the history of the Slav peoples, his greatest achievement, though it has not had the happiest of fates. Mucha donated it to Prague in 1928, on condition that the city build it a dedicated home. Eighty years later, his grandson John Mucha says he is at a loss as to why the artist’s wish has still not been fulfilled.
In this edition of Czech Books we look at the work of Richard Weiner, a Czech writer of the first half of the twentieth century, who was immensely influential on his own and later generations of writers and yet today is little read and little known outside the Czech Republic. Even within the country, among the writers of the period of the First Republic, he is far from being a household name. This neglect is very much undeserved, and one person who has been trying to draw attention to Richard Weiner and his legacy is the translator and literary
Coming up in this week’s Arts – a new opera that’s just premiered in Prague based on Communist Czechoslovakia's most notorious show trial. On June 27th, 1950 Milada Horáková - a democratic MP and campaigner for women's rights - was hanged on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage, despite appeals for clemency from world figures including Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. This is the first attempt to bring one of the darkest periods of Czechoslovakia’s past to the stage.
Rehearsals for Václav Havel’s new play Leaving kicked off at Prague’s Archa Theatre last week, with the world premiere slated for May 22. The work is Mr Havel’s play in 18 years after an amazing career in politics, so it’s not surprising it is being greeted with excitement. Now it has also been announced that the Orange Tree Theatre in London will stage the English-language premiere of Leaving this autumn.
Dudy is the Czech word for the bagpipes and Call of Dudy is the title of a documentary film focused on the Bohemian piping tradition. Featuring lots of great music and interesting interviews, it takes viewers to the instrument’s traditional strongholds in south and west Bohemia, and over the border into Bavaria.
It’s not everyday you are given a budget of 10 million crowns (624,000 USD) and told to spend it all. But that’s exactly what a group of Czech art experts were ordered to do by the government on Tuesday, in a bid to bring home some of the Czech Republic’s lost art treasures. Christie’s auction house in Amsterdam was putting more than 400 items from the Liechtenstein family’s art collection under the hammer. Many of these items had once hung on the walls of Czech chateaux. And following the sale, that’s where many of them will be finding themselves
This sort of music may not make for the easiest of listening, and the title of the song ‘pal vodsud’ hajzle’ (something like ‘piss off, jerk’), might not sound the most welcoming upon first read. But, it is a good example of Czech new wave rock of the 1980s. The band? Jasná Páka – one of the best known proponents of the new wave in this country, and one of the communist regime’s biggest thorns in the side. Jasná Páka reunited this week for a one-off concert to open a new exhibition at Prague’s Pop Museum called ‘Nová vlna se starým obsahem’ (‘New Wave