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
In the past when Czechs thought about comics, classic children’s publications like Čtyřlístek (Fourleaf Clover), about four animal characters, or Fast Arrows – adventure stories for kids - came to mind. But after 1989, conceptions of comics gradually changed as comics not seen here before gradually entered the market. Soon, many grew instantly recognizable to most teenagers: classic superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman and others; on the other, newer genres also began to come in, edgier so-called new wave productions, of which Art Speiglman’s classic
Hello and welcome to another edition of Music Profile which, this month, centres upon the Prague-based rock group ‘Psí Vojáci’ (or ‘Dog Soldiers’), led by the charismatic songwriter, singer and pianist Filip Topol. Psí Vojáci started as an underground band during the Communist regime, but enjoyed probably their biggest success after its fall in 1989. From the very beginning their sound was dominated by Filip Topol’s piano as well as dark, expressive lyrics. We begin with a song called ‘Černý sedlo’ or ‘Black Saddle’.