Petr Novák's unmistakeable, delicate tenor voice is synonymous with Czechoslovak society of the late 1960s. This talented musician shot to fame in this country at the time of the Prague Spring, when his gentle love songs influenced by Western pop groups like The Beatles were hugely popular among young Czechs. His success during this era, however, proved to be short-lived and his career subsequently stagnated under the influence of communist repression and his own problems with alcohol.
Hradišťan is one of the country’s most respected interprets of folk music. The band started as a folk music ensemble in the south Moravian town of Uherské Hradiště – hence the name – in the 1950s but its rise to popularity and critical acclaim began when Jiří Pavlica became the band’s leader, or primáš, in the 1970s.
In last week’s From the Archives we featured Martin Luther King, interviewed by Czechoslovak Radio in 1963. But Dr King was not the first civil rights campaigner to address Czech and Slovak radio listeners. Four years earlier, in June 1959, Paul Robeson came to Prague, to take part in an international left-wing cultural congress. Robeson was a man of many talents – singer, actor, athlete, writer and civil rights activist. He never concealed his sympathies with the communist regimes of the Eastern Bloc, and his political views – combined with the
Anyone familiar with the Czech electronic and dance music scene will have come across the work of Jitka Charvátová, also known as Ji, the charismatic and talented former singer for cutting edge groups like Skyline and the late Milan Hlavsa’s 1990s band Fiction. Now Jitka has reset her career with a recently released but already highly-lauded new solo album called Feed My Lion, featuring 8-bit, electro pop and elements of hip hop.
Writer and youth movement activist Jaroslav Foglar left a deep trace in Czech popular culture. Besides more than 25 novels for children, Jaroslav Foglar is also the father of Rychlé šípy, or “Rapid Arrows”, a legendary comics that has earned a following with generations of Czech readers. Persecuted by the Nazis and the communists, the writer also single-handedly founded his own youth organization which, in its heyday, had tens of thousands of members across the country.
Martin Dušek, who often works with co-director Ondřej Provazník, is a two-time winner of the main prize at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, the Czech Republic’s most prestigious documentary award. His films “A Town Called Hermitage” and “Coal in the Soul” were both shot in the former Sudetenland in North Bohemia, a border region whose Sudeten German inhabitants were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war. Martin Dušek ’s latest film deals with his own Sudeten German heritage – in a humorous and provocative way. I caught up
In today’s programme we feature music by the hard rock and thrashmetal group Kabát, who have left a Godzilla-sized footprint on the Czech music scene. To date, the band headed by charismatic frontman Pepa Vojtek, has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and remains a major draw for fans of heavier music.
It seems very strange to be talking about the Czech writer Hana Andronikova in the past tense. When she died of cancer on December 20th last year, she was only 44, and until the last months of her life had been at the height of her creative powers. Author of two successful novels, several plays and numerous short stories, she was one of the most versatile younger Czech writers, and will be hugely missed. David Vaughan looks at her life and work.
In today’s Arts I talk to artist and editor Carrie Paterson about the first English-language edition of a rare and fascinating book originally published in 1936. Written by the third wife of modernist architect Adolf Loos, Claire Beck Loos (Klára Becková-Loosová of Plzeň) it was previously available only in German; the new edition, published by Doppelhouse Press, is called Adolf Loos – A Private Portrait.