Even if you have never read anything by the great German novelist Thomas Mann, you will almost certainly have come across Visconti’s film of his most famous novella, “Death in Venice”. Thomas Mann is the best known member of one of Germany’s most celebrated literary families. Several of his children also had literary careers, but it is Thomas Mann’s elder brother Heinrich, born in 1871, who is the focus of this week’s Czech Books. Also a novelist, he had close associations with Czechoslovakia. David Vaughan explores the Czech branch of the Mann
In this week’s Arts, my guest is Welsh writer James Stafford, the author of a wonderfully irreverent new webcomic The Sorrowful Putto of Prague. The comic tells the story of a 400-year-old putto (or cherub) named Xavier living in the city and it has captured the attention of both Czech and English-language readers. After looking up the site myself, I was curious to learn more about Xavier and his world. Luckily James Stafford – who is not usually based in Prague – was able to come to the studio to discuss the project.
For many lovers of classical music, the Czech Republic is the land of Dvořák and Smetana. Fans of more modern music may know Leoš Janáček or Bohuslav Martinů. It may seem, though, that for the past fifty or so years, creation of and even interest in orchestral music has all but died out in this country.
The 2013 One World festival of human rights documentaries kicks off in Prague on Monday. Over a week and a half, this year’s festival, the 15th, will present more than 100 films on subjects ranging from the international hackers group Anonymous to acid attacks on women in Pakistan to a homeless New Yorker who’s become friends with top film stars. The theme of this year’s One World is tolerance and intolerance; festival director Hana Kulhánková told me why.
In this new Radio Prague series, notable Prague residents take us to some places in the city to which they have a particular connection. Our first guide is Radim Špaček, who is perhaps best known as the director of the multi-award winning film Pouta, or Walking Too Fast. A former child actor, Radim also makes documentaries and co-organizes Prague’s Bollywood Film Festival. He was actually born on the other side of the country, in Ostrava, but came to the capital as a child.
The Semafor theatre, one of the oldest continuous traditions of modern Czech entertainment, is still putting out new performances after 53 years of existence. The latest concoction of multi-genre comedy theatre is ‘Kam se poděla Valerie?’, or ‘Where Did Valerie Go?’, which has four pre-premieres this week and next, before the real premiere in September.
2012 was another record-breaking year for the Czech art market, with collectors having auctioned some 881 million crowns – or over 46 million US dollars – worth of artefacts. That’s a 36-percent increase compared to the previous year. Interestingly, the market received a significant boost from Chinese collectors buying up pieces from their part of the world. I discussed the latest trends with Jan Skřivánek from the magazine Art and Antiques, one of the editors of the Art Plus yearbook which sums up developments on the Czech art market.
A new exhibit entitled Go and Don’t Shoot will open on Tuesday evening at the National Gallery’s Veletržní Palác. It presents multi-media works that the contemporary Czech artist Štěpánka Šimlová brought back from her visits in Kayin State in Burma. In this week’s In Focus, Masha Volynsky speaks to Ms. Šimlová about the exhibit, and her experiences in Burma, and later looks more closely at the situation in this war-torn country.