The Dvořák Prague Festival held in September offered opera buffs a special treat: a performance of the generally unknown opera King and Collier, from Dvořák’s early period which was never performed during the composer’s lifetime. Its first and last production took place in 1929 at the National Theatre. And because the opera was never recorded, its 2019 premiere in the form of a concert performance afforded the unique opportunity of hearing music by Dvořák that was entirely new to listeners.
In a book just out, the renowned Czech author and illustrator Renáta Fučíková tells the story of Czechs in North America. The idea to chronicle stories of Czech immigrants originated in Chicago, which is sometimes referred to as “the most Czech city” in the US. I met up with Renáta Fučíková at her studio in the Old Town district of Prague, where she was putting finishing touches on the final illustrations for her new book.
Celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution are taking place not only in the Czech Republic but also among Czech and Slovak communities abroad. The Czech consulate in Chicago has prepared several events highlighting the 30 years of freedom, including a showcase of photos by the award-winning photographer Karel Cudlín.
The National Library of Israel has started digitising a long-lost batch of archival materials, belonging to Franz Kafka’s friend Max Brod. They include, among other things, Kafka’s personal diary and a notebook in which he practiced Hebrew. Israel received the missing documents from a Swiss bank in August after years of international searches and legal disputes over the author’s legacy.
The new pipe organ for St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague resounded for the first time on Monday in a workshop near Barcelona, in Spain, where the instrument is being built. The pipe organ was commissioned by the Catholic Church and part of its cost, estimated at 80 million crowns, was raised in a public collection.
Band leader Ondřej Havelka, with a look straight out of Jeeves and Wooster, has just reached the age of 65. The singer, actor (he has appeared in several movies), theatre, opera and music video director and tap dancer is the most recognizable proponent of interwar jazz in the Czech Republic and has a repertoire jammed with both domestic and English-language classics. He started out in the mid-1970s with the Original Prague Syncopated Orchestra before in 1995 launching a new group, Ondřej Havelka and his Melody Makers, with whom he continues to regularly
Flags are being flown at half-mast in the Czech Republic and public events have been toned down as Czechs observe a day of mourning for the late pop idol Karel Gott. The singer is being given a funeral with state honours, including a funeral mass at St. Vitus Cathedral, which is for invited guests only. Due to overwhelming interest from the public, people can watch the funeral mass on big screens placed outside the cathedral and Czech Television and Czech Radio will be broadcasting the event live. Karel Gott died on October 1st at the age of 80,
People from all corners of the country are streaming to Prague to pay their last respects to the deceased Czech pop legend Karel Gott, who died of leukaemia last week. Around 2pm, around 14,000 thousand passed by his coffin on public display at Žofín Palace, by mid-day Friday. The hugely popular singer is to receive a funeral with state honours, as Czechs observe a day of mourning on Saturday.
The former political regime in Czechoslovakia deemed much of Western culture “damaging” and “ideologically subversive”, but authorities struggled in particular to control the flood of foreign rock ’n’ roll and pop music. State cultural agencies and censors rarely allowed Western bands to perform here or even play their music on the airwaves. But unofficial channels filled the demand – through illegal imports, home-copying networks and ‘magnetizdat’ – do-it-yourself music. At the same time, state authorities sanctioned Western music when sung by Czech
The seventh Signal festival will again bring video mapping and light installations to the streets of Prague, every night from Thursday to Sunday. This year’s edition promises something special in the form of a piece by famous architect Eva Jiřičná, though it will also be overlapping with events linked to the funeral of singer Karel Gott. I discussed all that with Signal founder Martin Pošta, but first asked him about this year’s theme, which is revolution.