The 2006 James Bond remake Casino Royale is becoming an endangered species. The film was mainly shot at Prague’s famous Barrandov studios and used Prague and Karlovy Vary as a backdrop for many scenes. But Casino Royale is one of a dwindling number of blockbusters which have recently come to the Czech Republic. Revenues from foreign films have tumbled in recent years. That has put the spotlight on whether the government should fall into line with other countries and provide incentives for bringing them back.
Jan’s guest in One on One is the world-famous conductor and composer Carl Davis. Mr Davis, who has composed hundreds of scores for TV and film, recently appeared in Prague to conduct the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Jan caught up with the conductor at Prague’s Obecní Dům to discuss his remarkable career as well as Czech connections: writing the scores for films like the French Lieutenant’s Woman and series like The World at War. The first thing he asked Carl Davis about was whether he knew early on that film and television would play such
Clever. Just when you thought you’d seen everything, someone else comes up with a new neat trick. What am I talking about? How three Czech fans got on stage not long ago with the Irish rock group U2. In the front rows of a packed stadium in Berlin, they held up signs saying they knew how to play one of U2’s songs. And it worked: the trio got invited up. But the real trick wasn’t getting on stage, as unlikely as that was. That was the easy part! No, it was the performing that must have really been tough.
There is a very long and rich Czech tradition of children’s book illustration – from Mikoláš Aleš in the 19th century to Zdeněk Miler (of Mole fame) and Jiří Trnka in the twentieth century. In fact, the first picture book for children in Europe was produced by the Czech educator Comenius in the 17th century. An important part of this tradition is the illustrator Štěpán Zavřel (b.1932), a charismatic and influential artist who escaped to Italy from communist Czechoslovakia in 1959 and established the biggest centre for children’s book illustration
The new director of the Czech Philharmonic is Vladimír Darjanin. Already within his first month in the post, Mr Darjanin is ringing some considerable changes. Upon taking over on July 1, the straight-talking Mr Darjanin said he believed the reputation of a world-class orchestra lay in tatters, and that he was the man to fix it. When I met him recently in his office in Prague’s Rudolfinum concert hall, he outlined his plans:
This Wednesday sees the Prague Proms Music festival continue in the Czech capital at the Obecní Dům - a very special evening with world-famous conductor and composer Carl Davis. Mr Davis, who has composed hundreds of scores for TV and film, including the series Pride & Prejudice and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, will be conducting the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, performing scores from the James Bond films – from Casino Royale to Live and Let Die.
The band Lesní zvěř has been around for some eight years, touring clubs and festival in the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, and beyond. In June, the Brno-based group released their debut album. Their live acts are famous for high energy levels and a powerful sound; on the eponymous album, the mixture of jazz, psychedelia and drum’n’bass gets yet another twist with a guest Moravian folk band
It wasn’t a very auspicious start, and it didn’t end very well either – Czech Television, the country’s national broadcaster, has confirmed that it’s withdrawing from the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest due to lack of public interest. The Czech Republic only made its debut in the competition in 2007, but its first three attempts have been disastrous – the most recent gaining the dreaded “nul points”.
Imagine being invited - as a member of a stadium audience – to perform on stage with one of the world’s greatest bands. It could never happen, right? But that’s exactly how it was for a trio of Czech musicians at a U2 concert in Berlin last weekend. Incredibly, U2 singer Bono invited the Czechs – all strangers to him – to come up for the song Angel of Harlem.