What did famous Czech actors, aristocrats, politicians and scholars write in their books? Who did they dedicate their books to and what were the fates of their libraries after their deaths? An exhibition at the Museum of Music called 'Who Could It Have Belonged to?' throws light on these questions and takes visitors to a world that is slowly disappearing. One of the organizers of the exhibition, Richard Šípek, took me around and started by explaining the idea behind the endeavor, which was preceded by four years of painstaking research.
Illustrator Petr Horáček was born in Prague, but he is much better known in England, where he settled with his British wife and where he started to produce books for children. To this day, Petr Horáček has released over two dozen books for the prestigious Walker Books publishing house, winning a number of awards.
Jantar Publishing is a London-based press that brings translated titles from Central and Eastern Europe to a broader international audience. So far all of its releases have been Czech, ranging from Karel Jaromir Erben’s classic 19th century poem Kytice (The Bouquet) to a novel by Michal Viewegh that was a huge hit in the original. The man behind Jantar Publishing is Michael Tate, an Englishman who has in the past lived in Prague. When we met at the British Library last month, I asked Tate what had led him to launch the company five or six years
Music is an essential part of the unique Christmas atmosphere. Along with the scent of frankincense and spices, fried carp on the Christmas Eve table, the candles, baubles and mistletoe – traditional music is what makes Czech Christmas complete. Besides Advent and Christmas church music, including the “Czech Christmas Mass” by Jakub Jan Ryba, the local Christmas musical heritage also abounds in folk songs and carols.
Every year, dozens of students in the Czech Republic graduate from art schools, but only a few of them actually succeed in establishing themselves on the art market. Two years ago, Jana Laštovka, herself a graduate of the Prague Fine Arts Academy, established a unique online gallery that specializes in selling works of young artists, helping them gain recognition. Since it was founded, the young Real Art gallery has sold hundreds of artworks.
The UK's Second Run DVD recently celebrated 10 years of existence and 100 releases. About a quarter of the reissue company’s titles have been Czechoslovak films, ranging from the relatively famous Intimate Lighting by Ivan Passer to Adelheid, a lesser known work by František Vláčil, director of the classic Marketa Lazarová. When I met the company’s founder Mehelli Modi at a busy London café I wanted to know how he selects the Czechoslovak movies he released. As he explained, it all springs from his own passion for film.