Singer and songwriter Zuzana Michnová is one of the most distinct vocalists of the Czech folk rock scene. For many years, she was part of the legendary band Marsyas, and has also released an acclaimed solo album. After a long break, the band recently made a comeback, and can again be seen – and heard – in clubs across the country.
Musician Tomáš Kelar’s career began as drummer with the Welsh band Mountaineers, who rubbed shoulders with some big names when they signed to Mute Records. Now living back home in the Czech Republic, Kelar is a member of the highly regarded electronic group Midi Lidi and also produces the female rappers Čokovoko.
The leading US guitar player Gary Lucas may be best known for his work with the cult musician and artist Captain Beefheart (real name Don Van Vliet). His biggest commercial impact may have been as co-writer of tracks on the debut LP by the much loved Jeff Buckley. But – Lucas told me on a recent visit to Prague – very early in his career he also got the opportunity to work under one of the true greats of 20th century music, Leonard Bernstein.
This week’s Sunday Music show profiles a respected name on the Czech music scene -Dagmar Andrtova Vonkova. A self-taught guitarist, singer and song writer Vonkova seeks inspiration in folk music and draws on her own experiences, for a truly unique style that has captivated audiences at home and abroad.
The work of the novelist Marek Toman is diverse. It takes us from Jewish Prague in the 16th century all the way to the drama of the Velvet Revolution four hundred years later. He has even written one novel in which radio becomes a central character. His latest book, due to be published next year, again takes us back in time. It focuses on a notorious 17th century court case, but is far from being a mere costume drama. In the author’s work the past is always nearer to the present than you might expect. David Vaughan met the novelist.
Writer and youth movement activist Jaroslav Foglar left a deep trace in Czech popular culture. Besides more than 25 novels for children, Jaroslav Foglar is also the father of Rychlé šípy, or “Rapid Arrows”, a legendary comics that has earned a following with generations of Czech readers. Persecuted by the Nazis and the communists, the writer also single-handedly founded his own youth organization which, in its heyday, had tens of thousands of members across the country.
The hit BBC series The Office has been remade in many countries including the US, France Germany and even Chile. Last year, the first ever stage version of the comedy was produced in Prague, and now, Czechs can look forward to their very own TV version of The Office after Czech TV said it would air the fist six episodes next spring. I spoke to David Ondrůj, a co-author of the Czech version called Kancl.