Until last year Karel Jaromír Erben’s celebrated collection of ballads, Kytice – The Bouquet – had never been published in a full English translation. Now we are lucky enough to have no less than two fresh translations of this classic of 19th century Czech poetry. Last summer we spoke to the translator of one of the new editions, Marcela Sulak, and this time it is the turn of Susan Reynolds, whose translation appeared in a bilingual edition just before Christmas. She talks to David Vaughan.
Perhaps Brno’s best known street artist, the man known as Timo has just moved indoors for the first time, with a new exhibition at the city’s Off/Format gallery. Timo’s art has been acclaimed as poetic, funny and socially critical; the show, entitled Indoor Adventures, features some of his more subtle pieces, but also offers a sample of his street creations.
The author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, has just been in Prague for what he described as a vacation. The multi-million selling writer, known for his love of symbols and legends, has set previous novels in other historical European cities. So what are the chances of a future Brown hit taking place in the Czech capital?
The Prague Vitruvius is an extremely useful website for anybody interested in perhaps the Czech capital’s greatest asset: its unparalleled wealth of architecture. The blog is the work of Englishman Alex Went, who has created close to 300 entries taking in both tourist sights and largely unknown gems in the suburbs. When we spoke at the Vinohrady Pavilion – designed by one of his favourite Prague architects – I asked Went what had brought him to the city in the first place.
Dol Dauber was the central figure in one of the leading Czech dance or jazz band groups of the interwar years. Between Europe wide appearances, Dauber often headed the bill during the summer season at Mariánské Lázně’s plush hotels with the spa providing inspiration for many of his compositions. Dauber’s band also featured in several Czech film hits.
A festival of Iranian films held in Prague this week brings over two dozen feature films, shorts and documentaries to audiences in the Czech capital. Entitled Iran: A Different Reflection, the third edition of the festival focuses on contemporary Iranian cinema, featuring films such as The Past by the Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, and A Cube of Sugar, the country’ official candidate for this year’s Academy Awards.
For many lovers of classical music, the Czech Republic is the land of Dvořák and Smetana. Fans of more modern music may know Leoš Janáček or Bohuslav Martinů. It may seem, though, that for the past fifty or so years, creation of and even interest in orchestral music has all but died out in this country.
“Texas-Czech, Bohemian-Moravian Bands: Historic Recordings, 1929-1959” is a wonderful compilation featuring groups such as the Joe Patek Orchestra, Bacova’s Ceska Kapela and Adolph Pavlas and His Bohemians. One of Tom Waits’s favourite 20 LPs, the album offers a fascinating take on the dechovka (brass band) music that the Lone Star State’s huge Czech community brought with them from the old country.
Standing in the centre of the Clementinum – if you can locate such a thing in the labyrinth – you are surrounded by around a millennium of history and millions of volumes of books inside one of the most beautifully preserved masterpieces of Baroque art the city of Prague has to offer. This is the seat of the Czech National Library and the whispering and rustling that echoes through its grand halls add perfectly to its natural mysteriousness.