Today in Mailbox: The Czech singing duo Petr and Pavel and their song "Láska" - a mystery solved after ten years. We also reveal the answer to last month's listeners' quiz question, and there is a brand new mystery person for the coming four weeks. Listeners/readers quoted: Neil Critchley, Alan Blaikley, Ian Morrison, Hans Verner Lollike, Bob Boundy, Mary Lou Krenek.
South Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary Art is currently putting on a large-scale showcase of Czech modern art. The exhibit 'Memory of Landscape I have never seen’ is a result of three years of collaboration between Prague and Seoul and presents works of Czech painters from the Czech National Gallery, ranging from 1895 until 1943. I spoke to the National Gallery’s director Vladimir Rösel and asked him how the cooperation with the Korean museum developed.
At the start of The Invisible Men, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, a gay Palestinian named Louie describes how his father – on discovering his sexual orientation – brutally attacked him, slashing his face open with a knife. Louie has moved to Israel where he is relatively safe (and even wears a Star of David to blend in), but he faces great uncertainty every day. Prior to a screening, the film’s Israeli director Yariv Mozer outlined the predicament of such “invisible men”.
The award-winning film Sofia’s Last Ambulance, which is now screening at the One World festival of human rights documentaries, records the experiences of an ambulance crew in the Bulgarian capital over two years, capturing moments of high human drama against the backdrop of a barely functioning system. Travelling with the medics were two filmmakers, director Ilian Melev and soundman Tom Kirk. The latter, who is a guest at the festival, told me it had often been an intense experience.
Bravehearts, which opened the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague on Monday night, follows politically engaged Norwegian students preparing for student elections. However, midway through filming Norway suffered a terrible tragedy, when Anders Behring Breivik shot dead 69 people at a Labour Party youth camp after setting off a bomb in Oslo. One of the film’s protagonists was there.
In this week’s Sunday Music Show we listen to the dark yet emotional tunes of Mikoláš Růžička, who came out with his first solo album called Piano just a couple of months ago. The complexity of sound, as well as Mikoláš’s signature introspective voice that listeners may know from the bands Republic of Two or Ghostmother, has impressed critics. The album has been a long time coming for Růžička, who carefully crafted each song, combining instrumental, vocal and electronics sounds.
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.