The Czech Republic has lost one of its most respected artists: Adriena Šimotová, who passed away on Monday at the age of 87. Šimotová, who was banned from exhibiting in Communist Czechoslovakia during the so-called ‘Normalisation period’, went from a classic painter’s approach early in her career to a more abstract but also figurative style, often working with images in fabric or paper.
Director Tomáš Pilař is regarded as a coming man in the world of Czech opera. And the 25-year-old is already incredibly busy; this season he is working on more than a dozen different projects at opera houses in various corners of the country. When we met recently, we discussed the craft of opera direction, the state of the art form in the Czech Republic and his own ambitions. But I first asked Pilař – who is also a stage designer – whether he came from a musical family.
In this week’s show, we will listen to some music by a young singer named Debbi. She’s put out two albums before turning 20, and captured the attention of Czech, and even some international audiences with her husky voice and bubbly personality. Her music has given the Czech pop scene a bit more depth, a few more good songs in English and even a slightly retro dimension.
Originally from Bratislava, architect Barbara Bencová found a home in Prague quite a few years ago. But in the 30 years of her life, she has also had a chance to study in work in the major European centers of design and architecture. Having tried out remodeling flats, luxury interior design, student housing, Barbara has gained international success this year with a design of a kindergarten in Milan.
Look at some of the small town exhibitions currently underway and you can’t miss the trend – they all show vintage objects very often made up of stuff people find in their attics. The “out with the old and in with the new” fervor with which people cleaned out their attics just a few decades ago is long gone and families now treasure old family coffee grinders, foreign label-covered suitcases that belonged to seasoned family travelers or wooden weaving looms used by great grandmothers.
This week saw the awarding of the country’s Architecture Grand Prix (or Grand Prize), recognizing projects completed on Czech soil over the course of the year. Held by the Society of Czech Architects together with the Czech Chamber of Architects, this year’s prize went to SIAL Studio, for the conversion of an early 20th century municipal spa in Liberec into a vibrant new gallery and depository.
The West Bohemian city of Plzeň is known for many things, but culture is probably not the first that would spring to mind. But the industrial city is seeking to change all that as one of only two European capital cities of culture in 2015. And, as Chris Johnstone reports, preparations for the Czech city’s place in the European cultural spotlight are well underway.
Monday’s opening of the 2014 Prague Spring music festival was dedicated to one of the greats of Czech music, conductor Rafael Kubelík, who was born 100 years ago this year. The honour was certainly merited; after all, not only did Kubelík help found the festival immediately after WWII, he helmed its first ever concert – and the first opening after the fall of communism.
Monday night’s opening of the 69th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival will be in honour of the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of most important figures in 20th century Czech music, conductor Rafael Kubelík. In this special programme, his son Martin discusses Kubelík's remarkable life and career.