A documentary is now screening in Czech cinemas on the life of the actress Lída Baarová, sometimes described as the first Czech international movie star. For its tragic twists and roller coaster ride, Baarová’s own life story, including a tempestuous love affair with the Nazi propaganda boss Joseph Goebbels, surpassed any of her film roles. The young star ended her life in exile, a controversial, if not despised personality in her homeland.
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.