Every year, the Czech Foreign Ministry presents Gratias Agit awards to those who have helped promote the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Recipients include individuals and institutions from all over the world; this year, the list of laureates ranges from Marius Sczygiel, a Polish journalist, who published a best-selling book about the Czech Republic, to Pontifical College Nepomucenum, an educational institution for Czech clergy in the Vatican.
This month's Music Profile will prove a treat for polyglots in particular. In this edition, we're taking a look at the back-catalogue of singer-songwriter, translator par excellence, and head of the Czech PEN club, Jiří Dědeček. For songs about postmodern romance, moneychangers, military secretaries, and the Czech town of Žatec, tune in to Music Profile.
At the tender age of 14, Iva Fruehlingová moved to France, on her own, to pursue a successful career as a model. In recent years, she has returned to the Czech Republic, where she is now a successful pop singer. On top of that, she has just brought out her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Příběhy modelek [Models’ Stories]. I spoke to Fruehlingová at the launch of the book, and began by asking her what had inspired it.
Jaromír Honzák is one of the most important figures in the Czech jazz world. The double bass player recently turned 50, marking that milestone with the release of a new Jaromír Honzák Quintet CD entitled Little Things. As well as gigging regularly in the Czech Republic and further afield, he is the head of the Czech Republic’s first dedicated jazz school. I spoke to Honzák before a show at the Prague venue Jazz Dock the other night.
The first two names always given at the top of the pantheon of Czech classical music are Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana; the third is invariably Leoš Janáček. Probably the most innovative of the three, Janáček likely lags behind the famous duo only because even today, 80 years after his death, musicians, musicologists and music lovers are still reassessing those innovations, which took classical music into uncharted territory.
Divadlo Semafor is an inauspicious theatre in Prague’s Dejvice district, from which, over the past half-century, some of this country’s biggest pop hits have emerged. To honour the output of songwriting duo Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, and the theatre’s 50th birthday, nearly 20 young Czech bands have got together to make an album of cover versions of Semafor songs. Music critic Pavel Klusák is the man behind the project:
The jazz and classical music festival Struny podzimu, or Strings of Autumn, opens in Prague on Tuesday night with a special performance by the Czech avant garde musician Iva Bittová. She will be accompanied at the Estate’s Theatre by jazz musicians and – for the first time – the Prague Philharmonic.
Karel Čapek is one of the few Czech writers whose work has transcended borders. Although he died prematurely, aged 48, during the dire year of 1938, in the course of his short lifetime he wrote over 20 prosaic works as well as several plays and travel books. Many of these have been translated into English – and our guest in this edition of One on One is Norma Comrada, an American who translated several of Čapek’s collections of short stories, and his 1938 play The Mother. I met Ms Comrada at a most appropriate venue – Karel Čapek’s study on the
The prestigious World Press Photo 2008 has opened at its traditional venue, Charles University’s Carolinum in the Prague city centre, with winning photos highlighting major events from last year – from the election of US President Barack Obama to scenes of conflict such as the war between Russia and Georgia. This year the jury choose some 60 winners from 96,000 entries.