Czech classical music is not only a part of national culture and history, but also of the nation’s soul. This year we have prepared a series on the renowned hits of Czech classical music. You will be familiar with many of them, as they are widely known and regularly performed in concert halls all over the world. The background to their creation and how they were recorded will all be covered by this series in the coming weeks.
The Prague State Opera reopened on Sunday evening in grand style following a major reconstruction that took nearly three years and cost over a billion crowns. The gala performance took place exactly 132 years after the venue opened. To better celebrate the opera house’s history, Sunday’s all-star programme also included a multimedia installation staged by a prominent filmmaker and narrated by a famous writer.
One of the most compelling and stylish Czech films of 2019 was A Certain Kind of Silence, the feature debut from Michal Hogenauer. The largely English-language work depicts a Czech girl who becomes an au pair in an unnamed Northern European state only to discover her host family are members of a sinister sect. When we spoke, the conversation took in the challenges of shooting abroad and the ways in which directors can pander to festival programmers. But I first asked Hogenauer about the inspiration for the story in A Certain Kind of Silence.
B4 have been around in different forms for over two decades but now comprise the duo of David Freudl and Tomáš Procházka. The outfit are self-proclaimed adherents of krautrock and their online profile refers to such names as Can, Nurse with Wound, Einstuerzende Neubauten and Money Mark, though they also bring to mind Warp acts such as Plone. Their latest release Plastová okna (Plastic Windows) placed third in Radio Wave’s top 10 Czech LPs of 2019.
Plans to build a futuristic museum in Olomouc showcasing some 200,000 post-war artworks from across Central Europe have been on hold for over a decade, plagued by land disputes, funding issues and political intrigue. But with a new culture minister and museum director in place, hopes are high the ambitious project will finally take off this year.
As the new year arrives we look back at some of the biggest Czech hits of 2019 in Radio Prague International’s New Year’s Eve music show. The bands and artists include the award winning music legend Karel Gott, Xindl X, Czechoslovak Superstar finalists Ben Cristovao, Miro Smajda and Emma Drobná, as well as accomplished veterans Support Lesbiens. Last but not least, there is Lake Malawi who got into last year’s Eurovision Song Contest Finals in Tel-Aviv with their song Friend of a Friend.
The sons of a respected classical music composer, the Eben brothers -Kryštof, Marek and David- grew up surrounded by music and musical instruments. They received an education in classical music, but sought inspiration from folk, jazz and rock as they searched for their own style of expression. They formed their first folk-rock band in the late 1970s and their ability to combine different music styles and musical instruments created the unique "Eben style“ which captivates audiences.
Czech Christmas wouldn’t be complete without traditional Christmas carols. To mark the occasion, we’ll be listening to an album entitled Christmas for Grown-Ups or Vánoce dospělých. The album was recorded by the Concept Art Orchestra, a leading Czech jazz band, and offers a slightly different take on the traditional seasonal repertoire.