An exhibition of photographs of the internationally renowned author Bohumil Hrabal is currently on show at Lucerna Café in Prague. The collection of photos was taken by the Czech-born documentary filmmaker and photographer Jan Kaplan, based in London, who became friends with Hrabal in the 1990s, after giving him a tour of London. I spoke to him on the phone to London to find out more about how had come to befriend and photograph a man who valued his privacy and who rarely allowed strangers into his chosen circle of friends.
The 12th Prague Short Film Festival gets underway on January 18th. For the next four days visitors to Prague’s Světozor will be able to view some of the very best short films from around the world. Jan Velinger spoke to the festival’s program director Karel Spěšný, about some of the films being screened as well as the festival’s main aims.
In today’s edition of Sunday Music Show we mark the 90th birthday of Zuzana Růžičková, one of the world’s leading harpsichordists. Despite enduring three concentration camps as well as Communist persecution, Zuzana Růžičková pursued her dream of becoming a professional musician. During her long career, she released around one hundred albums and became the first person to record Bach's complete works for keyboard, which have just recently been re-issued.
When the translator Ewald Osers died five years ago, it marked the end of an era. This year would have been his hundredth birthday, so with a bit of quick mathematics we can work out that he was already a young adult when the Second World War brought an end to the multi-lingual and uneasily cosmopolitan Prague in which he had grown up. From 1938 until his death, Osers lived in England, where he translated much of the best twentieth century Czech prose and poetry into English. Remarkably, he was translating from his second to his third language,
Czech Games Edition is a small but internationally-respected firm which has published very well-known original board game designs, some of them in as many as 12 languages. Titles include acclaimed party games like Krycí jména (Code Names) or heavier titles like the civ-builder Through the Ages. CGE’s newest release, which got a lot of hype at this year’s Essen Game Fair, was Adrenaline, a game pitting futuristic combatants against each other in a tight arena of rooms. Think proverbial “knife fight in an phone booth”.
The internationally-renowned harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková will celebrate her 90th birthday at a special concert in Prague on Saturday. After surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, the Plzeň-born musician – inspired by her love of Bach – brought the harpsichord to new audiences around the world in a long and successful career.
Pavel Růžička and Petr Dvořák, known as the ORM duo, have produced music for some of the biggest Czechoslovak pop-stars, including Karel Gott and Hana Zagorová, but they are also considered to be among the country’s pioneers of electronic music. A selection of their independent work from the late 1970s until the mid-1980s has recently been released as part of the newly launched label Little Beat Different.
Part of a 100-page personal report on the Charter 77 period written by Václav Havel is set for publication on Friday as part of events marking the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Charter 77 protest document. After being lost for many decades, the valuable text was recently discovered in the papers of another leading Chartist and friend of Havel’s, the late Zdeněk Urbánek. Michael Žantovský is the director of the Václav Havel Library, which is issuing the facsimile of the major find. He told me more about it.
Pioneers and Robots is the title of a new book focusing on the golden era of Czechoslovak illustration, which was recently released by the Paseka publishing house. Written by two graphic artists, the book offers an in-depth account of the development of visual arts in Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover in 1948.