Thomas Zaruba, author of the best-selling jazz album Slow Down, is a pianist of Australian-Canadian-Czech origin living in France. Although he was born into a cosmopolitan family of musicians and started playing the piano at the age of two, he opted for a career in advertising and it was a tragic incident that made him turn his life around and devote himself exclusively to music. When Thomas visited Radio Prague this week I asked him what had prompted him to drop everything and pursue his life’s passion.
By far the country’s swankiest annual literary event, the Magnesia Litera awards, covering nine categories, including prose, poetry, blogs and translations, were broadcast live on Czech TV on Sunday evening. Book of the Year award went to veteran author Radka Denemarková for her novel ‘Hours of Lead’ while the award for best work of prose went to rising literary star Pavla Horáková – a former colleague of ours at Radio Prague – for her novel ‘A Theory of Strangeness’.
A new guide to Prague, called Curator, attempts to show the city to locals and tourists in a different light. A group of three art historians have handpicked the best of Prague galleries, contemporary spaces, paintings and sculptures, art cafés and art in the streets and interviewed people who have something to say about them. Instead of the traditional sights and overpriced tourists traps, Curator invites its users to discover interesting, and lesser-known places lying off the beaten tourist track.
The most famous Czech cartoon character, Krteček, or the Little Mole, has been the centre of legal disputes for some time. Now a court has ruled that the granddaughter of Krteček’s creator, the late Zdeněk Miler, can no longer grant licenses to produce Little Mole collectibles. Judges say that a contract Miler signed with his granddaughter shortly before his death was invalid.
Long before the term world music became widely used the brother-and sister duo Petr and Hana Ulrychovi played Moravian folk songs with electric guitars. Later, in search of a more authentic sound, they introduced acoustic instruments as well. The band Javory, which they established 45 years ago, is still going strong largely because of their ability to merge different genres and present Moravian folk songs in a different light, making them attractive to a younger audience. This year Hana and Petr are celebrating 55 years on stage and more than 30
The classic Czech sci-fi film Ikarie XB1 looks set to find fresh audiences with a new Blu-ray release next week. A number of major figures in the history of Czech cinema were involved in the making of the black and white movie, which prefigured Western releases such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek.