One of Prague’s best known German-language authors was Egon Erwin Kisch, who was born in the Czech capital 125 years ago this Thursday. His excellent style and original choice of stories, together with his dramatic life, earned him a reputation of the ‘Raging Reporter’ that is still very much alive today.
Christopher Harwood is a lecturer in Czech at Columbia University in New York. When I met him at his office on Columbia’s Upper West Side campus, we discussed Czech literature, the difficulties of learning Czech, and how Professor Harwood himself had become good enough at the language to teach it at one of the world’s leading universities.
On this week’s Sunday Music Show we mark the birthday of Antonín Dvořák, who would have 170 candles on his birthday cake this year. Unfortunately he only lived to the age of 63, enjoying a career of about four decades, but he saw the kind of success in his day that few composers could dare to hope for. Today’s show is a personal tribute to one of the greatest masters of Western musical history.
This edition of Sunday Music show is dedicated to the poet and lyrics writer Pavel Vrba who died last week at the age of 73. In a career spanning over five decades, Mr Vrba authored lyrics to more than 2,000 songs. His prolificacy along with a wide range of singers, musicians and bands he worked with made his lyrics a phenomenon in the Czech pop culture.
It’s September, and all other anniversaries aside, that means the birthday season of the genius Antonín Dvořák. Had the Czech musical maestro lived to his deserved age he would be 170-years-old this month, and music-lovers and –ologists are marking the occasion with all due enthusiasm. Alongside the Dvořák festivals and radio tributes this month there is also the uniquely interesting, interactive Dvořák exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music (Karmelitská 2, Malá Strana), which is our destination in this week’s Spotlight.
A novel titled “Secret Book” has been flying off the shelves in Czech bookstores. In it, author Irena Obermannová describes her secret affair with a figure that she refers to as “the greatest Czech.” The author is known for her very open, often autobiographical style of writing – and since the book’s male protagonist shares many traits with former president Václav Havel, there is heated speculation over the veracity of her account. Culture and society journalist Jana Ciglerová talks about the juicy bestseller.
For Czechs, the 20th century was a turbulent time. Independent Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918 only to later fall victim to the two great tyrannies of modern history – Nazism and communism. Many Czechs fled their country during the 20th century so that they could live as free people, and often simply to save their lives. Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Egon Hostovský, one of the most distinctive and significant modern-day Czech writers, who fled his country twice, first to escape the Nazis, and later the Communists.