Jan Šesták was a music-obsessed mega-fan of Radio Luxembourg, tuning in every evening, despite the risks, in communist Czechoslovakia. Tony Prince was a top DJ on the Europe-wide station, which regularly reached tens of millions of listeners. This is the story of how the two met when Prince performed in Šesták’s native Brno on a 1970 tour, starting a friendship that continues to this day. It is also a story about the power of radio.
Czechoslovakia gained independence in 1918. But even now, after nearly a century you can find customs and traditions that are very similar to most countries that formed the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire. What Czechia shares with Austria and especially Vienna, is the tradition of classical dance classes that are still considered something of a “rite of passage” in both neighboring countries.
One of the staples of Czech Christmas, along with fried carp, Christmas cookies and fairy tales, is Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass. The mass composed by a small-town teacher in 1796 has become the most popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written. It is performed in churches, concert halls and resounds in millions of Czech homes during the Christmas season. So on Christmas Eve, we would like to share this musical experience with you and have selected a 1998 recording that has been hailed as the best recording of the Czech Christmas Mass
Few people know that Good King Wenceslas, one of the best-known Christmas carols in the English-speaking world sung on the Feast of Saint Stephen, refers to a Bohemian duke who ruled in the 10th century. Good King Wenceslas is none other than St. Václav, the patron saint of the Czech nation. Paradoxically, the carol is almost unknown in this country.
The Indian journalist Inderjit Badhwar has a reputation for pursuing stories with courage and determination. His investigative writing during the more than two decades he spent in the US earned him a Pulitzer nomination. But it wasn’t his work as a journalist that brought Badhwar to Prague last month. He is also an acclaimed and award-winning novelist, writing from a perspective that crosses continents and reflects his own international life story. He was here for the Prague Writers’ Festival, during which he spoke to David Vaughan about his writing
Hundreds of vintage Czechoslovak posters will go on display this week in the new Czech Poster Museum in Prague. Located in a beautiful 15th century House at the Golden Grape at Malá Strana, the museum was established by Prague-based US businessman Glenn Spicker, a poster enthusiast who spent more than twenty years putting together his current collection. I visited the Czech Poster Museum a few days ahead of its official opening to talk to Glenn Spicker and I first asked him how he got the idea to establish the place: