The launch has just taken place in Prague of the Czech version of a novel looking at the Munich Agreement of 1938, when the UK and France gave the Nazis free reign to annex parts of Czechoslovakia. Written by Georges-Marc Benamou, The Ghost of Munich tells the story of the Munich conference from the point of view of the then French prime minister. The book looks set to be made into a film, directed by Miloš Forman and written by Václav Havel.
The Maharal Institute, a new Jewish studies centre dedicated to the 16th century rabbi, philosopher and scholar Yehuda Loew, opened in Prague on Thursday. Founded by the Prague Chabad Centre, the Institute aims to spread the legacy and the teaching of the great rabbi Loew, a legendary figure in the history of the Czech capital.
Christopher Harwood is a lecturer in Czech at Columbia University in New York. When I met him at his office on Columbia’s Upper West Side campus, we discussed Czech literature, the difficulties of learning Czech, and how Professor Harwood himself had become good enough at the language to teach it at one of the world’s leading universities.
Disaster struck the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in the US state of Iowa in June, when extreme flooding submerged the museum building. The damage caused to the building and its contents is thought to run into millions of dollars, and is expected to take years to repair. But the work should be made that little bit easier by a million-crown contribution from the Czech government which has just been announced. The museum’s director Gail Naughton has been in the Czech Republic over the last week to discuss the terms of the gift. I caught
‘Kde domov můj’ or ‘Where is my home’ is a song familiar to every Czech, whether he lives at home or abroad. It is the Czech national anthem. However, this particular arrangement is not what Czechs are used to hearing when the flag is raised during official events. The well-known Czech conductor and composer Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer, whose work has featured in a number of films, decided to revamp the anthem and liven it up a little.
The English language and international premiere of Václav Havel’s latest play Leaving takes place in London this Friday. It is part of a season focused on the former president’s work which is being organised in conjunction with London’s Czech Centre. I discussed the Havel season, and other highlights of this autumn’s programme, with the centre’s director, Ladislav Pflimpfl.
In this edition of Spotlight we visit Veltrusy Chateau, a gorgeous summer estate found north of the Czech capital. Founded in the 1700s by Czech nobleman Václav Antonín Chotek, Veltrusy is far from an obvious destination, but is well-worth a day-trip. The castle grounds boast a 300 hectare park along the Vltava River, with numerous paths leading among ancient trees to pavilions, a bridge or two and various monuments. Then of course, there is the chateau itself, highly valued as a gem of Baroque architecture.
My guest for One on One this week is Karel Buriánek, the frontman of Czech indie rock band Sunshine. Karel, or Kay as he is known to his fans, has worked in graphic design and fashion in Los Angeles, that’s before settling back in the Czech Republic and focusing on music. Karel has a weekly new music show on Radio Wave, and has just finished a hectic summer’s touring with his band. When I met him on a sunny Prague café terrace, he told me how playing all of this summer’s Czech festivals had been:
Hello and welcome to Czech Books, which this week has a French accent. It would be hard to overstate the very important and longstanding relationship between the Czech and French cultures. Historically many writers and artists such as Alfons Mucha, Toyen and more recently, Milan Kundera, have found a home in France, and the tradition continues today with the translator and writer Patrik Ouředník, whose very powerful and remarkable book, Europeana, we'll be discussing today.
This weekend sees the 19th annual ‘Babí léto’ festival take place at Prague’s Bohnice psychiatric clinic. The festival comprises of both music and drama and, for the fifth year running, a special showcase of homeless people’s theatre. One of the acts involved in that section is ‘Bliss’ – a Czech musical theatre troupe made up of sex-workers. The group is run by the Czech charity ‘Rozkoš bez rizika’ (‘Bliss without Risk’), whose work also includes counseling, and testing sex-workers for AIDS. When I met charity head Hana Malinová, she seemed slightly