Toxique, one of the most vibrant and closely-watched Czech pop bands, recently released Outlet People, their much-awaited second album. With the CD, the band takes on a new look and goes further creatively – with electronic sound, a children’s choir and a slew of new ideas – than ever before. Klára Vytisková is the band’s charismatic lead singer; she dropped by Czech Radio recently to discuss how the new album (which has been getting rave reviews) came together.
One of the most prominent guests at the Forum 2000 conference in Prague earlier this month was the conservative English philosopher and writer Roger Scruton. In the Czech Republic he is well known not just for his extensive writings on the history of modern philosophy, but also for close links he forged with Czechoslovakia in the years before the fall of communism. In this week’s Czech Books, Roger Scruton talks to David Vaughan about how his special relationship to this country has developed over the years.
A few days ago Radio Prague and the Czech Literature Portal, this country’s foremost website promoting Czech literature abroad, got together to hold the first of a series of public literary discussions. David Vaughan’s guests were two of the Czech Republic’s best known literary figures, the novelist Petra Hůlová and the critic and translator Martin Machovec. They were joined by an international audience at one of Prague’s most atmospheric literary dens, the Shakespeare and Sons bookshop, tucked away in one of the ancient houses in Prague’s Lesser
It was twenty years ago this week that the first privately-owned radio station went on the air in Czechoslovakia just after the Velvet Revolution. “Radio Stalin” began as a pirate broadcast from atop the hill of Letná, underneath the structure that had once held up an enormous statue of the Soviet tyrant. The tongue-in-cheek name didn’t last for very long, but the broadcast has continued until today with the same focus on alternative rock under the name Radio 1.
Wednesday evening saw the highly-anticipated premiere of the new Czech film Občanský průkaz about youth & rebellion during the Normalisation period in Communist Czechoslovakia. Directed by Ondřej Trojan of Želary fame, Občanský průkaz (which means identity card or simply I.D.) is being distributed by Falcon films. Radio Prague spoke to the head of Falcon, Jan Bradáč, and asked him how the opening went.
The name of Sylvie Bodorová has been closely connected with modern classical music in the Czech Republic for about the last 30 years, in which time her compositions have been performed on every continent, including Antarctica. She is one of few female composers whose work is a staple of classical musical festivals the world over and is featured on more than two dozen albums. The first in that long list of compositions was a piano piece written when she was seven years old - she performed it in her public debut a year later. When we met in the studio
The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra will soon be under new management: specifically that of David Mareček, who the Ministry of Culture appointed to lead the orchestra on Monday. It is hoped that the youthful director of the Brno Philharmonic will bring new vigour to the post and especially an end to years of disputes between the orchestra and its management. Christian Falvey has the story.
In the summer of the 2002, Prague was hit by one of the worst floods in the city’s history. The swollen Vltava inundated parts of the historic centre, including the Jewish quarter, which had to be evacuated. This dramatic scene is the setting for the new Czech novel Sidra Noach by David Jan Novotný. The name comes from the weekly readings from the scripture. As it happened, the story of Noah was read in the synagogue just as the waters began to recede.
Decadence Now! at Prague’s Rudolfinum gallery has become one of the most talked about exhibitions of the year in the Czech Republic. An extremely ambitious show by local standards, it brings together over 140 pieces by leading contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gilbert and George, and Cindy Sherman. Sections with titles like Sex, Pain and Death feature many works that are unusually graphic, some might say shocking. Indeed, under 15s are not allowed to enter unaccompanied.
Prague’s Villa Bílek, an intriguing piece of modern architecture, has opened to the public after two years of renovation. Designed by the Czech Art Nouveau artist František Bílek as his studio and family home, it stands out as one of the more unusual architectural landmarks of the capital, reflecting Bílek’s vision of a “stronghold of a higher realm”.