The Czech Republic and Hungary are countries of similar size with plenty of history in common, whether we look back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the common experience of invasion in more recent decades: in 1956 for Hungary and 1968 for Czechoslovakia. And you don’t have to look far to find parallels in the literature of the two countries. In Czech Books, David Vaughan looks at some of these Czech-Hungarian literary links from the point of view of a Czech who is steeped in contemporary Hungarian writing.
The large-scale regional exhibition taking place in two South Bohemian and two Upper Austrian cities hit the first snag within days of the grand opening. Part of the exhibit in the small town of Vyšší Brod, which is dedicated to the houses of worship in the region, sparked intense criticism for displaying works dating back to darker days in history.
My guest in today’s Arts is violinist Josef Špaček, who has emerged as one of the Czech Republic’s most talented virtuosos. Špaček – a graduate from the Juilliard School – is a concertmaster with the Czech Philharmonic and in less than a fortnight he will be performing at the Prague Spring International Music Festival. He has also just released his debut CD with recordings of Prokofiev, Janáček and Smetana.
The exhibition Ivan Lendl: Alfons Mucha has been drawing big crowds since it opened its doors earlier this month. On Monday the Czech-born tennis legend himself visited the Prague show, which comprises his priceless collection of posters by the Art Nouveau master. Lendl also unveiled another valuable object: the Davis Cup.
My guest today is Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz, a professor emerita at the University of British Columbia. Born in 1927 in the Czech town of Liberec, Marketa left Czechoslovakia following the communist putsch in 1948. She established herself in Canada as a professor of comparative literature, author and essayist, focusing in particular on publishing samizdat literature, and also writing about the work of Czech playwrights such as Pavel Kohout, Josef Topol, Ivan Klíma, and her friend the former president Václav Havel.
The Prague-based rock band Schodiště, formerly known as Nahoru po schodišti dolů band, this year marks 30 years on stage. Founded at the height of the new wave, the band with its original sound and melancholic lyrics, somewhat undermined by their irony and sarcasm, has evolved into a steady fixture of the Czech rock scene.
The Czech Photo Gallery at Prague’s Újezd this week launched the first in a series of “Best of” exhibitions beginning with the Nude. Curators for the opening show chose work by five well-known photographers, the late Taras Kuščynskyj, Jan Saudek, Robert Vano, Pavel Brunclík and Antonín Tesař. The nudes range from lyrical and romantic, to erotic and homoerotic, and relatively brutal and decadent.
An exhibition spanning two south Bohemian and two Austrian towns is just about to get underway, with various religious and industrial venues hosting works that point to the shared roots on both sides of the border. As part of the extensive project, a number of historical buildings have been painstakingly renovated and will be open to the public for the first time.