This week the heads of Czech cultural centers from around the world met in Prague to exchange ideas and discuss joint projects. The head of the Czech centre in London Tereza Porybná visited Radio Prague’s studio to talk about the centre’s past achievements and future projects. I began by asking her about this year’s cultural highlights.
Originally from Bratislava, architect Barbara Bencová found a home in Prague quite a few years ago. But in the 30 years of her life, she has also had a chance to study in work in the major European centers of design and architecture. Having tried out remodeling flats, luxury interior design, student housing, Barbara has gained international success this year with a design of a kindergarten in Milan.
The month of August was nothing if not turbulent for the Czech National Theatre, which saw its new director recalled from his position on day one by the government, before uproar led to his hasty reinstatement. His return – and the guarantee the theatre will retain its independence – means most actors who quit in protest came back for the new season.
The rock and blues singer and song writer Michal Prokop has been part of the Czech music scene for over 50 years. With their clever lyrics, his songs have always appealed to sophisticated audiences but he has also scored a series of major hits. While strictly apolitical during the communist era, Michal Prokop went into politics in the 1990s but quit, and recorded his latest album which came out in 2012.
Anyone interested in the history of athletics will have heard of Emil Zátopek, the greatest Czech long-distance runner of all time. His life story is the subject of a short novel by the Prix Goncourt winning French writer, Jean Echenoz, called simply “Running” – “Courir” in the original French. The book is an account of the life of an athlete whose quiet, determined attitude towards his sport contrasted with the complex political dramas going on around him in mid-20th century Europe. David Vaughan looks at the book and at the life of Emil
This week the 45th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia was commemorated in this country. What some may not realize is that many of the iconic images from the tumultuous August of 1968 appearing in the media belong to one person – Josef Koudelka. A world renowned photographer whose career spans almost six decades and across all of Europe, Mr. Koudelka decided six years ago that he wants his life’s work to have a home in the Czech Republic.
Aleš Brichta is one of the big names on the Czech hard rock scene. He first climbed on stage in the early 80s and inspired by Western idols he brought heavy metal behind the Iron Curtain, captivating generations of young Czechs and antagonizing the communist authorities. Today, at 54 he is still going strong and is as much of a rebel as ever.
Adam Gebrian is a young architect and journalist who has a regular column in the newspaper Lidové noviny, so naturally a tour of “his Prague” included stops at a couple of the city’s most interesting contemporary buildings. But let’s start today’s show at what he considers the most vibrant spot in the Czech capital right now: the Náplavka riverside walkway beneath the embankment Rašínovo nábřeží. Over a beer at (A)void, a rusty old boat converted into a “floating gallery” with a great view, I put it to Adam that Náplavka can at times be
The cemetery in the small South Bohemian town of Volyně hides an unusual secret – a contemporary art gallery called Na shledanou, or Goodbye. Actually, the secret is not that well kept, since for the past three years the gallery’s curator Jan Freiberg has been inviting well-known and up-and-coming Czech artists to use the funeral home’s walls and beautifully lit space to create site-specific works. Visitors from the surrounding region and from far beyond come to experience the unusually located gallery. On a recent visit to Prague, Jan Freiberg
This week half a dozen pianos have appeared at squares, train stations and other locations in Prague. Some passers-by have been taking the opportunity to tinkle the ivories themselves, while their random, impromptu performances have been bringing smiles to the faces of many more. And the organisers of the latest attempt to liven up Prague’s public spaces are already planning to expand the project.