Ahead of the Day of Czech Statehood on September 28th, special screenings of the silent film “Svatý Václav” (Saint Wenceslas), accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Prague, are taking place at the grandiose Municipal House, the very site of the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic one hundred years ago.
Rehearsal for Truth is a weeklong theatre festival dedicated to Václav Havel that gets underway in New York on Tuesday. Alongside plays and stage readings, it will also see the presentation of a human rights award and the unveiling of a new bust of the dissident turned president at Columbia University. I discussed the festival, which is focused on Central European theatre, with organiser Pavla Niklová of the Václav Havel Library Foundation.
The Prague composer of Jewish descent, Hans Krása, wrote Brundibár using Adolf Hoffmeister’s libreto as early as 1938. Sadly however, the opera only became famous once it premiered in Terezín on September 23rd 1943. Krása himself studied the opera with small jewish children after being deported to Terezín. Here it was performed more than 50 times.
A sculptor tasked with reconstructing the communist era pylon in front of the National Museum’s New Building has discovered old documents which show the monument’s author, Czech architect Karel Prager, dedicated it to Jan Palach, who set himself alight and died in 1969, in protest of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The museum is now considering restoring the original memorial.
Earlier this year the young piano virtuoso Tomáš Kačo performed for the first time at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall. It was the fulfilment of a long-held dream for the 31-year-old, who comes from a large Romany family in a small Czech town and was a youth prodigy before seizing a life-changing chance to study in the US. I caught up with Tomáš Kačo when he was visiting Prague last week from his home in LA. My first question: When was he first exposed to music in a meaningful way?
Czech vocalist, banjo player, composer and translator Robert Křesťan is one of the bright lights on the Czech folk, country and bluegrass scene. In the course of a career spanning more than three decades he has played in several ensembles, coproduced close to twenty CDs and performed at thousands of concerts, including annual tours of the US with his current ensemble Druhá tráva.
Fashion initiative We’re Next held their third annual event in Prague on Thursday evening, featuring designs by students from Prague’s Academy of Arts, or Umprum, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. I attended the show to see the collections and to speak with the young talents who brought them to life.
Household items produced in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and ‘30s by some of the country’s top designers and artists, such as Ladislav Sutnar and Toyen, are currently on display at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. The glasses, plates, hand-woven carpets and other items were made for Krásná Jizba, a famous interwar design co-op.
The Architect of the Year award has been bestowed upon a renowned educator and architect, Petr Hájek, who the judges said has responded with experimental flair on a wide range of challenging projects. A professor at the faculties of architecture at Czech Technical University in Prague and at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, he was honoured on Tuesday evening for his exceptional contribution to the field over the past five years.
Steamboat Stompers are one of the legends of the traditional Czech jazz scene. The Prague Dixieland band was established 50 years ago, in 1968. Steamboat Stompers have captured audiences with a distinct music style, which was defined by the late founder and band leader Jiří Kadlus. After his death two years ago he was replaced by trombone player Pavel Janík.