My ears pricked up recently when a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs selected as one of the songs he’d like to be stranded with a track by Louis Armstrong – recorded live in Prague. The LP Louis Armstrong in Prague: Lucerna 1965 was extremely familiar from the racks of the city’s secondhand shops. But I had never picked up a copy.
Tereza Porybná took over as director of the Czech Centre in London earlier this month. Her professional and academic experience have been quite varied – for many years she worked on humanitarian and development projects in Ethiopia, ran the biggest documentary film festival in the Czech Republic and had completed a doctorate in visual anthropology, receiving a Fulbright grant to do research in the United States.
The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down has surprised the world. Here in the Czech Republic, church leaders have praised his courage and recalled his visit to the country in 2009. However, Pope Benedict’s retirement for health reasons raises questions over whether his successor will attend a huge Catholic celebration in Velehrad planned for later this year.
Traditional carnival celebrations preceding the beginning of lent are taking place all over the Czech capital, with many neighborhoods organizing their own celebrations. Prague’s Žižkov district holds the claim to the longest running post-communist tradition of Masopust festivities, as they are called in Czech. This year, Žižkov celebrates the twentieth Masopust in the neighborhood.
Karolína Milerová, who is 23, found herself running an international business following the death in 2011 of her grandfather, Zdeněk Miler. He was the creator of the hugely popular Czech children’s character Krtek, or Mole, which for over half a century appeared in a series of cartoons and countless books.
The Matadors, one of the greatest Czech beat groups of the 1960s, only released one LP, their eponymous 1968 debut. Like many Prague bands of their era, they had a fluid membership, though the classic lineup is regarded as Radim Hladík on guitar, Viktor Sodoma on vocals, Jan “Farmer” Obermayer on electric organ, Otto Bezloja on bass and Tony Black (Miroslav Schwarz) on drums.
Tim Smisek is an American singer and songwriter living in Prague. He regularly performs at Restaurant Anna and various other venues in the Czech capital. For this week’s edition of the Arts Tim visited Radio Prague’s studio to talk about his music, plans for the future and work on a new album. Lorna Stephen began by asking him how he came to live in Prague.
A new photography exhibition that gets underway in Prague on Thursday takes a novel approach to one of the thornier subjects in modern Czech history: the massacres that took place during the expulsion of millions Germans at the end of WWII. Photographer Lukáš Houdek has reconstructed some of those actual events – using Barbie and Ken dolls. Ahead of the opening of The Art of Killing, Houdek told me about how he prepared for the unusual project.