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Alphonse Mucha's Piano
John Lennon Wall
Yoko Ono at the Lennon Wall in Prague

The Czechs listen to a variety of music: mostly international, American, British, and German. In most bars and restaurants they play American pop music and classic rock & roll (e.g. Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin). It's also common to hear vulgar rap music playing in neighborhood grocery stores (because most locals don't understand the language). There are always street musicians playing the streets of New Town & Old Town (especially in the town squares), and often outdoor concerts in the squares and stadiums.

One of the most popular musicians in Prague (aside from Mozart) is John Lennon from The Beatles. The Lennon Wall is a popular attraction in Prague, and you can get a bottle of British beer from the nearby John Lennon Pub. Louie Armstrong was also famous for playing jazz at The Lucerna in Prague during the communist occupation; their revolutions arose from locals at jazz clubs and cafes.

 

History of Czech & Bohemian Music

Music of the Czech Republic comprises the musical traditions of that state or the historical entities of which it is compound, i.e. the Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia). Czech music also constitutes a substantial part of the music culture of its direct predecessor, Czechoslovakia.

Music in Bohemia has its roots in sacred music from more than 1000 years ago. The oldest recorded song from this territory is the hymn Hospodine, pomiluj ny ("Lord, Have Mercy on Us"), dating from the turn of the 11th century.

Bohemian traditional music includes that of Chodsko (CS), where bagpipes are common. Moravian traditional music is known for the cimbalom, which is played in ensembles that also include double bass, clarinet, and violins. The traditional music of Moravia displays regional influences, especially in Valachia with a Romanian and Ukrainian legacy, and has close cultural relations with Slovakia and Lachia (the borderland of northern Moravia and Czech Silesia) with its Polish aspects. A famous dance from the region is the Bohemian polka.

Early evidence of music from this region is documented in manuscripts from the library of the Cistercian monastery in Vyšší Brod (founded in 1259). One of the most important is manuscript No. 42, from 1410. It contains a hymn called Jezu Kriste, ščedrý kněže ("Jesus Christ Bountiful Prince"), that people would sing during the preaching of John Huss.

With the development of towns in the 15th century, music started to play an important role in two Bohemian centers: Prachatice and Sušice. Václav z Prachatic (Václav of Prachatice) dealt with the theory of music at the Charles University in Prague. His manuscript Musica magistrii Johannis de Muris accurtata de musica Boethii is a collective work on the theory of music inspired by the thoughts of Johan de Muris, who worked in Paris, and is in the university library.

Extensive musical activities in Prachatice took place in the second half of the 16th century during the Renaissance, a notable period of literátská bratrstva ("men of letters brotherhoods"). Their main focus was community singing performed during ceremonial services. The brotherhood established its memorial book in 1575, which described its activities until 1949, when the brotherhood perished. The Habsburg Counter-Reformation in Bohemia after 1620 also affected music in the region. Catholic priests performed Gregorian chorals, while the people sang spiritual songs often based on the Protestant tradition. This ended in a new Catholic edition of hymn books such as Capella regia musicalis.

The Czech classicism period is exemplified by František Xaver Brixi, Johann Baptist Wanhal, and Augustin Šenkýř. Among the 18th and 19th century composers are Vincenc Mašek (CS), Jan Jakub Ryba, Jan August Vitásek. In the 19th century German and Austrian productions also had their place here. The founder of Czech national music Bedřich Smetana was inspired by the Bohemian Forest while creating his symphonic poem Vltava. Antonín Dvořák was also inspired by the Bohemian Forest in his piece called Klid pro violoncello a orchestr.

The traditional music of Bohemia and Moravia influenced the work of composers like Leoš Janáček, Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, and Bohuslav Martinů. Earlier composers from the region include Adam Michna, Heinrich Biber, Jan Dismas Zelenka, Johann Wenzel Stamitz and Johann Ladislaus Dussek.

 

Czech Radio

Český rozhlas (ČRo) is the public radio broadcaster of the Czech Republic, which has operated since 1923. The service broadcasts throughout the Czech Republic nationally and locally. Its four national services are Radiožurnál, Dvojka, Vltava and Plus. 13 regional stations are also provided. Czech Radio celebrated 90 years of existence in 2013.

A message broadcast on Czech Radio on May 5, 1945 brought about the start of the Prague uprising. In the same year, regional studios in the cities of Plzeň, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové and Ústí nad Labem were launched.

The station was taken over by Soviet forces, after short fighting with unarmed civilians, in August 1968, in the first day of the Soviet invasion, although broadcasting managed to continue from alternative locations.

In 2002 the Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty station stopped broadcasting in the Czech Republic, with the broadcast rebranded as Czech Radio 6 under the Czech Radio group.

 

Czech Radio Channels:

  • Radio Prague: external broadcasts, 6 languages available.
  • Radiožurnál – news, information, and pop music (Soft AC)
  • Dvojka – talk and family programs (formerly ČRo 2 Praha)
  • Vltava – culture, art and classical music
  • Plus – spoken word
  • 13 regional channels
    • ČRo Brno
    • ČRo České Budějovice
    • ČRo Hradec Králové
    • ČRo Karlovy Vary
    • ČRo Liberec
    • ČRo Olomouc
    • ČRo Ostrava
    • ČRo Pardubice
    • ČRo Plzeň
    • ČRo Regina
    • ČRo Region, Středočeský kraj
    • ČRo Region, Vysočina
    • ČRo Sever
  • ČRo Radio Wave – youth radio (only via cable, digital, internet)
  • ČRo D-Dur: classical music
  • ČRo Jazz: mainly jazz station (previously ČRo Euro Jazz)
  • ČRo Rádio Junior: children's radio
  • ČRo Sportsports radio

Music Stations:

 

O2 Arena Pano

Music Venues in Prague

 

O2 Arena

O2 Arena (formerly Sazka Arena, stylised as O2 arena) is a multi-purpose arena, in Prague, Czech Republic. It is home to HC Sparta Prague of the Czech Extraliga and is the second-largest ice hockey arena in Europe.

Visitor record held by Madonna concert in 2006, which was attended by 18,628 spectators. On September 6-7, 2006 Madonna performed there during her Confessions Tour. She performed again at the arena on November 7-8, 2015 as part of her Rebel Heart Tour selling out crowds of over 16,000 patrons. Musicians who also performed at the O2 Arena include: Queen, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga.

 

Eden Arena (Synot Tip Arena)

Musicians who have played here include: Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, P!nk, Depeche Mode, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Rammstein.

The stadium is served by buses and trams, with stops for both using the name Slavia. Trams 4, 7, 22 and 24 run along Vršovická street, north of the stadium, while bus services 135, 136, 150 and 213 stop on U Slavie street, immediately west of the stadium. The nearest metro station is Želivského.

EDEN ARÉNA (formerly known as Synot Tip Arena) is a football stadium, in Prague-Vršovice, Czech Republic. The stadium has a capacity of 21,000 people and it is the most modern football stadium in the Czech Republic. It is the home venue of SK Slavia Prague and occasionally the Czech Republic national football team.

The stadium is occasionally used for other events beside football, such as concerts or other sports matches. In 2012, the Sokol slet, a mass gymnastics event, was held here. The stadium was used for the final rugby matches of the 2008 and 2009–10 KB Extraliga seasons. There is a hotel and a fan shop in the northern stand, and various other facilities (bar, McDonald's, Komerční banka branch, offices) in the main stand.

 

Tipsport Arena

Tipsport Arena is a multi-purpose arena in Prague, Czech Republic, sponsored by gambling firm Tipsport. The arena opened in 1962 as Sportovní hala and has a seating capacity of 13,150 people for ice hockey games. This arena has changed names many times: 1962-99: Sportovní hala; 1999-2002: Paegas Arena; 2002-08: T-Mobile Arena; 2008-11: Tesla Arena; 2011–present: Tipsport arena.

There were hundreds of concerts in the arena during its operation. It was the largest and most important arena in Czech republic for almost 40 years until 2004 when the new O2 Arena opened.

 

Strahov Stadium

Musicians who played here include: Pink Floyd (110,000+), The Rolling Stones (120,000+), Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi, U2, AC/DC, and Ozzfest.

A few days after the end of World War II (a few months after the end of hostilities in Europe), two units of the United States Army played a friendly match of American football. On September 28, 1945, a crowd of 40,000 watched soldier-athletes of the 94th Infantry Division defeat a team from the XXII Corps, by a score of 6-0.

The Great Strahov Stadium (Czech: Velký strahovský stadion) is a stadium in the Strahov district of Prague, Czech Republic. It was built for displays of synchronized gymnastics on a massive scale, with a field three times as long as and three times as wide as than the standard Association football pitch.

When it was an active sports venue, it had a capacity of around 220,000 spectators, making it the largest stadium and the 4th largest sports venue ever built.

Today, it is no longer in use for competitive sports events; it is a training centre for Sparta Prague, and is used to host pop concerts. The stadium is sited on Petřín hill overlooking the old city. It can be accessed by taking the Petřín funicular up the hill through the gardens.

The original stadium dates from the First Republic between the World Wars and served as a venue for popular Sokol displays of massive synchronized gymnastics. The Sokol displays were renamed Spartakiáda during the communist era, referring to the power and strength of the slave uprising led by Spartacus.

Performances with several hundred gymnasts making various complex formations and exercising identically while accompanied by tunes from traditional folk music attracted the attention of many visitors. Some of the most popular shows were those of young well-trained recruits who wore only boxer shorts while on the display or women dancing in miniskirts. The groups of volunteer gymnasts (unlike the soldiers, who were ordered to practise and participate) were put together from keen local athletic association members who regularly trained for the show throughout the year prior to the event, which repeated every five years.

Stadion Evžena Rošického

The stadium holds 19,032 spectators. Stadion Evžena Rošického is adjacent to the considerably larger Strahov Stadium, the second biggest in the world. It is named after Czech athlete and anti-Nazi resistant Evžen Rošický, executed by Nazis in 1942.

Stadion Evžena Rošického is also an important location for many FM radio station transmitters that cover the Prague region, including Radio Beat and BBC Radio Service.

 

Municipal House

Municipal House (Czech: Obecní dům) is a civic building that houses Smetana Hall, a celebrated concert venue, in Prague. It is located on Náměstí Republiky next to the Powder Gate in the center of the city.

The Royal Court palace used to be located on the site of the Municipal House. From 1383 until 1485 the King of Bohemia lived in the property. After 1485, it was abandoned. It was demolished in the early 20th century. Construction of the current building started in 1905. It opened in 1912. The building was designed by Osvald Polívka and Antonín Balšánek. The Municipal House was the location of the Czechoslovak declaration of independence.

The building is of the Art Nouveau architecture style. The building exterior has allegorical art and stucco. There is a mosaic called Homage to Prague by Karel Špillar over the entrance. On either side are allegorical sculpture groups representing The Degradation of the People and The Resurrection of the People by Ladislav Šaloun. Smetana Hall serves as a concert hall and ballroom. It has a glass dome. It houses artwork by Alfons Mucha, Jan Preisler, and Max Švabinský.

 

The State Opera

The State Opera (Czech: Státní opera), is an opera house in Prague, Czech Republic. It is part of the National Theater of the Czech Republic, founded by Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic in 1992. The theater itself originally opened in 1888 as the New German Theater and from 1949 to 1989 it was known as the Smetana Theater. More recently it was known as the Prague State Opera. Currently it is home to approximately 300 performances a year.

The history of the theater currently known as the Prague State Opera dates back to the late 19th Century. While often overshadowed by the more prominent National Theater of Prague, the company has its own distinct history. The birth of a magnificent Czech Theater, the National Theater, in 1883 indirectly created a longing among the Prague German community for a German-speaking opera house of its own. At that time the Czech lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and there was a large German minority living in Prague. On February 4, 1883 the Deutscher Theaterverein was founded with the goal of raising funds for the new theater. The plans were developed by the well-known Viennese firm Fellner & Helmer along with Karl Hasenauer, architect of the Burgtheater in Vienna. The resulting Neues deutsches Theater (New German Theater) was designed by the Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller and built within 20 months. With its spacious auditorium and elaborate neo-rococo décor, the theater was one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Performances commenced on January 5, 1888 with Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The first director became Angelo Neumann, who brought there distinguished musicians and set high artistic standards so that the Theater reached soon international recognition. Neumann's successors were Heinrich Teweles, Leopold Kramer, Robert Volkner, Paul Eger, and Pavel Ludikar. Artists associated with the theater in its first phase included Kurt Adler (Conductor), Alexander Zemlinsky, Georg Széll, Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Alfred Piccaver, Hans Hotter, Kurt Baum, and Wilhelm Elsner. Guest artists included Nellie Melba, Enrico Caruso, Emma Calvé, Lilli Lehmann, Selma Kurz, Maria Jeritza, Richard Tauber and Leo Slezak.

After the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, efforts to regain independence for the Smetana Theater were crowned with success and on April 1st the Prague State Opera was established there and the theater was renamed once again. Karel Drgáč became its first director. He enlarged the repertoire by further key works of the world opera literature. What earned him an unambiguous critical praise, though, was most notably his systematic cultivation of the legacy of 20th century production (Alexander Zemlinsky, Hans Krása, Gottfried von Einem). The new style of work, and the much-stressed orientation toward the traditions of the New German Theater were not always well received. Thus Drgáč had to fight a series of battles to win the war for the State Opera's existence. And meanwhile he lost his own battle, when upon expiration of his 3-year term the mezzo-soprano Eva Randová emerged victorious from the competition held in 1995 for the post of director. However, not even a singer who had experience in the most prestigious Theaters of the world could avoid later criticism of her manner of managing the Theater. Her successor, Daniel Dvořák, in many ways continued in the trend of Karel Drgáč. He understood the Prague State Opera as a Theater that needed to be incorporated into the European context, and opera as a genre whose development needed to be helped through support of new works. During his 4 seasons (1998–2002) Prague had the opportunity to experience an unprecedented number of world premieres.

After Dvořák left his post to take over as the Director of the National Theater of Prague, the Czech Minister of Culture appointed Jaroslav Vocelka to head the Prague State Opera. Previously its managing director, Vocelka's long experience in opera administration allowed a smooth transition for the company. The Prague State Opera maintains a policy of progressive programming. New productions of Scott Joplin´s Treemonisha; Ruggero Leoncavallo's La bohème; Eugen d'Albert's Tiefland; and Leonard Bernstein's Candide have all been key works in the house's program-building policy. Vocelka has also continued a tradition of staging benefit concerts for many charitable and humanitarian concerns and has made the theater available for cultural and social events. In 2003 the opera's ballet corps merged with the noted Prague Chamber Ballet company to create the Prague State Opera Ballet.

 

The National Theater

The National Theater (Czech: Národní divadlo) in Prague is known as the alma mater of Czech opera, and as the national monument of Czech history and art.

The National Theater belongs to the most important Czech cultural institutions, with a rich artistic tradition, which helped to preserve and develop the most important features of the nation–the Czech language and a sense for a Czech musical and dramatic way of thinking.

Today the National Theater consists of three artistic ensembles: opera, ballet and drama. They alternate in their performances in the historic building of the National Theater, in the Theater of the Estates and in the Kolowrat Theater. All three artistic ensembles select their repertoire both from classical heritage, and modern authors.

The National Theater was opened for the first time on June 11, 1881, to honor the visit of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. Bedřich Smetana's opera Libuše was given its world premiere, conducted by Adolf Čech. Another 11 performances were presented after that. Then the theater was closed down to enable the completion of the finishing touches. While this work was under way a fire broke out on 12 August 1881, which destroyed the copper dome, the auditorium and the stage of the theater.

In 1989 the general director of the National Theater, composer Jiří Pauer was dismissed from his post because of his support for the policies of the former Communist Czechoslovak government. Pauer locked all staff out of the National and Smetana theaters on 17 November 1989 to prevent members of the opera, ballet and drama companies from staging protest performances. After a 3-week strike Pauer was replaced by Ivo Žídek.

 

Estates Theater

The Estates Theater currently offers performances of dramas, ballets and operas with the focus of the opera company on the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A more contemporary claim to fame originates from the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, directed by Czech director Miloš Forman. The scenes of Mozart in Prague were shot at the Estates Theater for authenticity.

The Estates Theater or Stavovské divadlo is a historic theater in Prague, Czech Republic. The Estates Theater was annexed to the National Theater in 1948 and currently draws on three artistic ensembles, opera, ballet, and drama, which perform at the Estates Theater, the National Theater, and the Kolowrat Theater (cs) (separate building, Kolowrat Palace).

The Estates Theater was built during the late 18th century in response to Enlightenment thought regarding general access to the theater, and theaters themselves demonstrating the cultural standards of a nation. The Estates Theater was designed by Anton Haffenecker and built in a little less than two years for the aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck.

Prague's first standing public theater, the Sporck Theater, operated from 1724 to 1735. The owner of this theater, Count Franz Anton von Sporck, permitted the free use of it to subsidize the commercial venture of the Venetian impresario Antonio Denzio. The next commercial theater, the "Kotzentheater" or Divadlo v Kotcích, operated sporadically from 1739–1783 under a series of Italian impresarios. The final closure of the "Kotzentheater" coincided with the opening of Count Nostitz’s "Nostitzsches Nationaltheater." The theater opened in 1783 with a performance of the tragedy Emilia Galotti by the German playwright Gotthold Lessing. The building itself was constructed in a Neoclassical style and remains one of the few European theaters to be preserved in its almost original state to the present day. Its motto, Patriae et Musis "To the Native Land and the Muses"), which is inscribed above the portal, should also be noted as reflecting the original intentions of its creator.

The Estates Theater has undergone several changes in its history. It first acquired the name Royal Theater of the Estates in 1798 when it was purchased by the Czech Estates. With the opening of the Provisional Theater in 1862, the Theater of the Estates was dedicated to a German ensemble and renamed the Royal Provincial German Theater. During the period between 1920 and 1948 the theater regained the name Theater of the Estates and became affiliated with the National Theater. In 1948 the theater was renamed the Tyl Theater (after dramatist J.K. Tyl) and would be known as such until 1990 when, at the end of an eight-year reconstruction project, it became known again as the Estates Theater.

While the theater was initially built with the intention of producing German dramas and Italian operas, works in other languages were also staged. Czech productions were first staged in 1785 in order to reach a broader Czech audience but by 1812 they became a regular feature of Sunday and holiday matinées. The somewhat political nature of these performances later led to idea of founding a National Theater after 1848 with the defeat of the revolution and the departure of J.K. Tyl. Many of the founding Czech dramatists were involved in the Estates Theater, such as the brothers Thám (Karel and Václav), J.K. Tyl, Ján Kollár, and so on. The first Czech modern opera, František Škroup’s The Tinker, was staged here in 1826 and in 1834 the premiere of the song “Where is my Home?” (Kde domov můj) was performed by bass Karel Strakatý (words by Tyl, music by Škroup), which would later become the Czech national anthem.

The Estates Theater was not limited to native participants; many famous European artists were also active. Individuals such as Carl Maria von Weber, Anton Rubinstein, Karl Goldmark, and Gustav Mahler conducted at the Estates Theater. Other famous names include the actors A.W. Iffland, F. Raimund, J.N. Nestroy, along with opera singer Angelica Catalani and violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. One of the Estates Theater’s many claims to glory is its strong link with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni here in October 1787. Also, in 1791, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito was staged in public here for the first time in celebration of the coronation of Emperor Leopold II. It is the only theater left standing where Mozart performed.

 

Broadway Theater

Broadway Theater (in Czech: Divadlo Broadway) is a theater situated in Celetná street and Na Příkopě, Old Town, Prague, Czech Republic. It opened in 2002. It focuses on production of musicals.

Broadway Theater is a part of the Palace Sevastopol, which was originally built in functionalist style in 1938. The Celetná and Na Příkopě streets are connected by Broadway Passage. The palace is listed in the register of protected buildings.

The theater's first production was the musical Cleopatra, which made its début on 22 February 2002 and featured Bára Basiková, Ilona Csáková, Monika Absolonová and Radka Fišarová alternating in the title role.

 

Provisional Theater

The Prague Provisional Theater (Czech: Prozatímní divadlo, Czech pronunciation: [ˈprozaciːmɲiː ˈɟivadlo]) was erected in 1862 as a temporary home for Czech drama and opera until a permanent National Theater could be built. It opened on 18 November 1862 and functioned for 20 years, during which time over 5,000 performances were presented. Between 1866 and 1876 the theater staged the premieres of four of Bedřich Smetana's operas, including The Bartered Bride. The Provisional Theater building was eventually incorporated into the structure of the National Theater, which opened its doors on 11 June 1881.

Before the early 1860s almost all cultural institutions in Prague, including theater and opera, were in Austrian hands. Bohemia was a province of the Habsburg Empire, and under that regime's absolutist rule most aspects of Czech culture and national life had been discouraged or suppressed. Absolutism was formally abolished by a decree of the Emperor Franz Josef on 20 October 1860, which led to a Czech cultural revival. The Bohemian Diet (parliament) had acquired a site in Prague on the banks of the Vltava, and in 1861 announced a public subscription, which raised a sum of 106,000 gulden. This covered the costs of building a small 800-seat theater, which would act as a home for production of Czech drama and opera while longer-term plans for a permanent National Theater could be implemented. The Provisional Theater opened on 18 November 1862, with a performance of Vítězslav Hálek's tragic drama King Vukašín. Since there was at the time no Czech opera deemed suitable, the first opera performed at the theater, on 20 November 1862, was Cherubini's Les deux journées. For the first year or so of its life, the Provisional Theater alternated opera with straight plays on a daily basis, but from the start of 1864 opera performances were given daily.

The first principal conductor (or musical director) of the Provisional Theater, appointed in the autumn of 1862, was Jan Nepomuk Maýr – to the disappointment of Smetana, who had hoped for the position himself. Maýr held the position until September 1866; his tenure was marked by a professional rivalry with Smetana, who criticised the theater's conservatism and failure to fulfil its mission to promote Czech opera. Maýr retaliated by refusing to conduct Smetana's The Brandenburgers of Bohemia. A change in the theater's management in 1866 led to Maýr's removal and replacement by Smetana, who held the post for eight years. Maýr's bias in favor of Italian opera was replaced by Smetana's more balanced repertoire, which mixed Italian, German and French pieces with such Slavonic and Czech works as he could find. Apart from his own compositions (The Bartered Bride, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and Dalibor, Smetana introduced works by the Czech composers Lepold Eugen Měchura and Josef Rozkošný, but was nevertheless attacked by some parts of the music establishment for giving insufficient encouragement to native talent. Efforts to remove him from his post, and to reinstate Maýr, were unsuccessful.

Smetana was responsible for the establishment of an independent school attached to the theater. He became the school's director and professor of theory. However, in 1874 Smetana became afflicted with deafness, which forced him to yield his duties as principal conductor to his assistant Adolf Čech, and to resign his post later that year. Maýr was reappointed to the conductorship; he had no interest in the school, which subsequently closed. The Provisional Theater continued as the main venue for Czech opera, several of Antonín Dvořák's works being premiered there. In 1881 the theater was incorporated into the Czech National Theater building, which opened on 11 June. Shortly thereafter the new building was badly damaged by fire and remained closed for two years. During this period the Provisional Theater continued to operate, using other theater premises. During its lifetime the Provisional theater mounted more than 5,000 performances.

 

Rudolfinum

The Rudolfinum is a building in Prague, Czech Republic. It is designed in the neo-renaissance style and is situated on Jan Palach Square on the bank of the river Vltava. Since its opening in 1885 it is associated with music and art. Currently Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Galerie Rudolfinum are based in the building. Its largest music auditorium, Dvořák Hall, is one of the main venues of the Prague Spring International Music Festival and is noted for its excellent acoustics.

The Rudolfinum has been the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra since 1946 and is one of the main venues of the Prague Spring International Music Festival held each year in May and June. The building was designed by architect Josef Zítek and his student Josef Schulz, and was opened 8 February 1885. It is named in honor of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, who presided over the opening. Between 1919 and 1941 the building was used as seat of Czechoslovak parliament.

The Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall is one of the oldest concert halls in Europe and is noted for its excellent acoustics. On January 4, 1896 Antonín Dvořák himself conducted the Czech Philharmonic in the hall in its first ever concert.

The building also contains the Galerie Rudolfinum, an art gallery that focuses mainly on contemporary art. Major exhibitions have included: František Drtikol – Photographer, Painter, Mystic, (1998), Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, (1998), Jürgen Klauke: Side Effect, (1998), Czech Photography 1840–1950, (2004), Annelies Štrba, (2005), Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, (2007), Uncertain States of America, (2007–2008), Gottfried Helnwein: Angels Sleeping, (2008).

 

Žofín Palace

Antonín Dvořák held his first concert at Žofín Palace in 1878. Berlioz, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Wagner appeared in concerts in the palace. Má vlast, a set of 6 symphonic poems by Bedřich Smetana, was first performed in its entirety in Žofín Palace on November 5, 1882.

Žofín Palace is a Neo-Renaissance building in Prague, in the Czech Republic. It is a cultural centre, a venue for concerts, balls, conferences and exhibitions. It is situated on Slovanský Ostrov (Slavic Island), an island in the river Vltava in Nové Město (New Town) in the city.

The island in the river Vltava was formed in the 18th century. Damaged by floods in 1784, it was protected with a wall and planted with trees. In 1830, the island, then known as Barvířský Ostrov (Dyer's Island), was bought by Václav Novotný, a miller. He created a Neo-Renaissance building here in 1836–1837; it was named after Princess Sophie (Žofie in Czech), mother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. The single-story building had a concert hall and social hall, and was opened in 1837 with a ball.

The Prague Slavic Congress was held here in 1848. In 1925, to commemorate the event, the island was renamed Slovanský Ostrov (Slavic Island).

In 1884 the City of Prague bought the island, including the palace which was rebuilt as a 2-story building. The exterior and interior were renovated in 1991–1994.

 

Švandovo Divadlo

Švanda Theater in Smíchov is a theater in Štefánikova street in Smíchov a suburb of Prague. It continues the long tradition of the previous theater based in this building and its surroundings.

A theater was established on the site in 1871 by Pavel Švanda called Arena Eggenberg but the arena was demolished in 1891, an built a new arena the current Smíchov, theater.

In 1900 the theater was radically rebuilt when the position of the stage and auditorium was changed, and the layout has been preserved. In 1908, then it was renamed the Intimate Theater. In 1928, during the beginning of the economic crisis was dissolved file and in the building of the theater was owned by several tenants. In the years 1928-1930 he became the theater Vlasta Burian, in 1931-1932, then comic theater (Ferenc futurist and Jara Kohout). Since 1932 the theater has once again as Švandovo theater in 1935-1938 then letting Jara Kohout and from 1939-1944, then Jaroslav planks.

After the war, authorities banned its traditional theatrical business and there arose soviet version of the Realistic theater, including a 1953 renaming the realistic theater Zdenek Nejedly. In 1991 with the fall of communism it was renamed the Theater Labyrinth. In 1998 the theater was long closed but re-opened in 2002 as Švanda Theater in Smíchov.

 

Musical Theater Karlín

Musical Theater Karlín (Czech: Hudební divadlo Karlín) is a theater in Prague devoted largely to the performance of operetta and musical theater. Built in 1881, it is now the second largest theater in Prague, after the Prague State Opera.

 

Divadlo pod Palmovkou

Palmovka Theater, also known as the Theater S. K. Neumann, Divadlo pod Palmovkou and the Urban and Regional Theater, is a classic drama theater located in the Prague district of Libeň at the bottom Zenklova street in Prague near the intersection and subway station Palmovka. In addition to the main stage it has the attic theater a small studio theater for more intimate performances.

There has been a theater on the site since 1865 but the current theater company only dates to August 1949, when under the direction of the minister for Culture the current troup took form. Until 1992 the theater bore the name of the Libeň Theater, "Theater S. K. Neumann", but with the fall of communism the theater took its current name.

 

Křižík's Light Fountain

Křižík's fountain or Křižík's light fountain is an illuminated and musical fountain, which is used for cultural events. The fountain was built by František Křižík in 1891 on the occasion of the World Exhibition and became unique European attraction. The Fountain was rebuilt in the 1920s by architect Z.Stašek. The bottom of the fountain plate is equipped with 1300 multicolored reflectors and water circuits composed of more than 2 kilometers of pipes with almost 3000 nozzles. Now it is amplified by the classical and pop star music and other art projects.

There are often festivals in front of the Industrial Palace with live outdoor music.

 

Karlovy Lázně

Karlovy lázně (Czech pronunciation: [ˈkarlovɪ ˈlaːzɲɛ]; meaning "Charles' Spa") is a nightclub in Prague, Czech Republic, situated 50 meters from the eastern end of the Charles Bridge on the bank of the Vltava River. The building housing the club was a bath-house dating from the 14th century, and retains some original features, such as mosaic wall tiling and Roman spa-pools now used as dance floors.

The club has 5 floors, with each floor playing a different style of music. Lázně is the largest club in Prague, and claims to be the largest nightclub complex in Central Europe.

 

Cross Club

In 2014, Cross club was listed as one of 25 best venues in Europe according to the Guardian newspaper article.

The Cross Club is a music venue in Prague, Czech Republic, founded by a group of friends in 2002. Originally a small club, which has expanded over the years into a 3-floor venue. Cross club showcases various music performances, cultural events and exhibitions. There's daytime cafe and a restaurant in the premises.

Both interior and exterior are designed in steam-punk futuristic style and since the beginning have been created mainly from trash metal and other waste material by František "Sádra" Chmelík. The whole space keeps undergoing changes over the time, currently with 2 indoor stages, multiple bars, cafe and restaurant, theater, rehearsal studios and an outdoor sitting area and stage.

Cross club has hosted different acts from various music and culture fields, focusing mainly on unconventional scene and cultural diversity, favoring genres such as dub, dubstep, breakbeat, drum'n'bass, reggae, ska, punk rock, rockabilly, world music and experimental music.

Performers such as Camo & Krooked, EZ3kiel, Zion Train, Congo Natty, Dreadzone Soundsystem, Jah Shaka, Che Sudaka, Transglobal Underground, High Tone, Bambounou, Ragga Twins, The Stooges, Nanci and Phoebe, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, Zenzile, Bambounou Dom & Roland, Vibronics, Creepshow, Koffin Kats, The Bush Chemists, Rashad & Dj Spinn and many more have appeared at Cross Club in recent years.

Presentations, discussions, screenings and authors' readings also regularly take place at the venue, focusing mainly on social topics.

 

Lucerna Music Bar

Today, Lucerna Music Bar is renowned for its 80s & 90s pop discos on Friday and Saturday nights. During the week the bar mainly hosts live music.

Lucerna Music Bar is a concert club housed within the Lucerna Palace, located on a hallway or "passage" that connects Vodičkova and Štěpánská streets near historic Wenceslas Square, in the New Town (Nové mesto) area of Prague in the Czech Republic. The name Lucerna means "lantern" in Czech. Lucerna Palace is an Art Nouveau building built by former President Václav Havel's family. The Lucerna Music Bar is one of the venues within Lucerna Palace involved in the Prague International Jazz Festival and the AghaRTA Prague Jazz Festival. It was used for the Václav Havel Tribute Concert, held in Václav Havel's honor, upon his death in 2011. The Lucerna Music Bar is similar in size to Washington, DC's 9:30 Club, Cleveland's Agora Theater and Ballroom, Philadelphia's Trocadero Theater, or Baltimore's Rams Head Live!, however the selection of artists is more international. The Lucera Music Bar has played a role in giving exposure to many bands from the Czech Republic and around the world.

The building was designed by Vácslav Havel (the grandfather of former president Václav Havel), Stanislav Bechyně and Václav Prokop, and built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was completed in 1921. The reinforced concrete construction is an early example of this type of construction and is described in a book by engineer Prof. Bechyně. The building was designed as the first multipurpose building It is a multilevel open air galleria that houses The Lucerna Music Bar and the Lucerna Theater, a formal concert hall, in addition to an assortment of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The Lucerna Palace has been the site of many significant events in the country's history and is considered the most important private cultural centre in the city. It is the home of the Prague International Jazz Festival and was the site of Václav Havel Tribute Concert.

Up until the end of the 1980s, Czechoslovakia remained under the control of one of the most repressive Communist governments in Eastern Europe. In 1964 Prague's "1st International Jazz Festival" was held in the hall and the following year Louis Armstrong performed there. Jazz Writers, musicians, artists and intellectuals are credited with promoting the democratic ideals that shaped the Velvet Revolution. Although they could not openly practice their arts, some writers and musicians were among the most elite members of society. A number of music related events transpired during the revolution. Charter 77, a human rights manifesto, was written in response to the arrest of a band called Plastic People of the Universe, one of Václav Havel's favorite bands. In 1979, Havel himself was imprisoned for activities on behalf of the charter and The Jazz Section was targeted by Communists for their work. 5 members of The Jazz Section died in prison under suspicious circumstances.

Other countries, such as Hungary and Poland, had slowly been changing over time. In 1989, Communism fell in Czechoslovakia. Its first post-communist, elected President was Václav Havel, a strong patron of the Czechoslovakian music scene. The Václav Havel Tribute Concert, held in his honor in 2011, featured a wide range of musical talent from around the globe. Following Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, the bans were lifted, and new record labels and publishing houses emerged, producing CDs, magazines, newspapers, and books. Previously banned plays, movies, books and records, including Havel's adaptation of The Beggar's Opera, became available. Previously forbidden news topics, such as drugs, skinheads, the black market, corruption in the Communist Party, began to appear in news media. After the Velvet Revolution, musicians were able to perform in public, and Velvet Underground and Doors songs became very popular. In July 1998, the band Phish played two nights at the Lucerna Theater that are highly regarded among listeners. A celebration of this musical freedom was held at Lucerna Palace, including the Lucerna Music Bar. Currently, citizens are even free to hold benefit concerts whose proceeds go towards such causes as legalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty.

 

MeetFactory

MeetFactory is a non-profit organization and contemporary art centre in Prague, Czech Republic. It has 4 departments (music, theater, gallery, and artists-in-residence) and the rest of the program is focused on interdisciplinary and educational projects relating to contemporary art.

In March 2010, in addition to residencies, galleries, and theater, a fourth space for music was added. The concert hall can accommodate 1,000 people and hosts 50–70 concerts per year, including regular and one-off events. In addition to its own music events, MeetFactory organizes around 40 co-productions with various local and national organizations each year, and collaborates with festivals such as Lunchmeat, Sperm, and Komiksfest, or with NGOs such as Amnesty International or with the Czech Association of Paraplegics.

The theater program focuses on contemporary prose, as well as experimental interdisciplinary projects, often involving visual artists, musicians, or non-actors. The theater has an area of 150 square meters and 150 seats.

MeetFactory has 3 galleries: the MeetFactory Gallery, the Kostka Gallery and the Wall Gallery.

The international artists-in-residence program was established in 2007 and is the largest studio program in the Czech Republic. MeetFactory has fifteen studios, which host around 30 visual artists, curators, musicians, theater directors or writers each year.

MeetFactory was founded in 2001 by David Černý. After the destructive floods of 2002, MeetFactory evacuated its original premises in Holešovice, re-opening three years later in an industrial building in Smíchov, situated between an elevated road and a railway line. The program started after a substantial reconstruction in 2007. A board composed of the artist David Černý, musician David Koller and film and theater director Alice Nellis approved the long-term plan of MeetFactory.

 

Reduta Jazz Club

Reduta Jazz Club is a music club and theater scene in Prague, Czech Republic. It is situated on Národní street in the centre of the city, close to the National Theater. The club is particularly famous for having hosted an impromptu saxophone performance by American president Bill Clinton in 1994. Reduta is the oldest jazz club in Prague.

The club was established in 1957 by the bassist Jan Arnet and took its name from a term for centres of fun and music, Reduta. Its early existence was associated with the activities of the Accord Club, an institute which played an important role in formation of "small stage theaters", influencing the development of theater and music in the country in this era. At that time (early 1960s), Reduta supported small theater ensembles such as Jára Cimrman Theater and Lyra Pragensis. The club also attempted to promote jazz from the very beginning in the 1950s, at the time when this genre was condemned by the ruling Communist regime. The premiere concert of the renowned jazz ensemble Studio 5 took place in Reduta on June 2, 1958; the line up included important exponents of the Czech jazz, such as Karel Velebný and Luděk Hulan.

Artists performing at Reduta include jazz performers from around the world. Names like Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea performed at the club. Czech artists such as Vlasta Průchová, Karel Krautgartner, Miroslav Vitouš, Jiří Jelínek and Jiří Stivín regularly played in the club as well. The club also actively participated in organizing of the Prague International Jazz Festival, since 1964.

At the end of the 1980s, Reduta Jazz Club became one of the centres of the Velvet Revolution. It managed to retain its appeal after the end of the Communist regime. American president Bill Clinton played the saxophone (a gift from the Czech president Václav Havel) in a traditional jam session at Reduta in 1994, during his presidential term.

Nowadays Reduta focuses on fusing jazz with modern progressive styles. Their programs throughout the year include swing, Dixieland, mainstream and modern jazz, also big band compositions, blues, funky, bossa nova and jazz pop. Reduta includes a black light theater, mime theater, and new performances of young theater groups from Prague.

 

Divadlo DISK

DISK Theater (abbreviation: Theater State Conservatory) is a Prague theater, which is located on Charles Street 26 in Prague 1 building DAMU. It constitutes part of the Theater Faculty of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Performers are students of the Department of Dramatic Theater (KCD) and students of the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theater.

The theater was founded in 1945 as part of the State Conservatory. When he founded the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1946, he became a part of DISK. Until 1993 he worked in the theater building Unitaria (today Ta Fantastika Theater), where students had to leave the airspace. Until 1999, the theater used the hospitality of the Celetná Theater, but the requirements for creating theater suit. Therefore, it began in the atrium of the Academy of Performing Arts formed a new theater designed by architect Karel Hubacek and George Hakulína. Inauguration took place in February 1999. The new disc is a studio space with a capacity of about 130 seats, where you can create the most diverse theater and other cultural production.

 

Mozart's Prague Symphony

 

Czech Musicians

There is no question that the Praguers of the late 18th century exhibited a special appreciation for the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, even though, as recently pointed out by Daniel E. Freeman, confirmations of this fact attributed to Mozart himself in sayings such as "Meine Prager verstehen mich" ("My Praguers understand me") have only come down to posterity second or third hand. Perhaps the most valuable direct testimony that attests to the discernment of the musical public in Prague with regard to Mozart's music comes from Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, which was first performed in Prague:

It is not easy to convey an adequate conception of the enthusiasm of the Bohemians for [Mozart's] music. The pieces which were admired least of all in other countries were regarded by those people as things divine; and, more wonderful still, the great beauties which other nations discovered in the music of that rare genius only after many, many performances, were perfectly appreciated by the Bohemians on the very first evening.

The most important legacy of Mozart's association with the city of Prague was the composition of the operas Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito and the first performance of the "Prague" Symphony, which may or may not have been composed by Mozart specifically to be performed in Prague during his first visit to the city early in 1787.

Figaro 1786Daniel E. Freeman has provided the most comprehensive appraisal of the conditions that made Prague so attractive as a musical destination for Mozart in the 1780s. One of the most important reasons include a recovery in the population of the city that created a musical public much larger than had been present in the city just a few decades prior to this time. It was only just before the time of Mozart's visits that the population of Prague finally recovered from the severe depopulation caused by the departure of the Imperial Habsburg court from Prague in 1612 on the death of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and the effects of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), whose military conflicts both started and ended in the city.

Prague always retained a certain prestige as the capital city of the kingdom of Bohemia, even though its king (who doubled as Holy Roman Emperor and head of the house of Habsburg) lived in Vienna. Still, it took over a century after the death of Rudolf II for the city once again to build cultural institutions worthy of a major European city, usually due to the sponsorship of leading Bohemian nobles. The recovery in civic life led to the construction of a magnificent new opera theater, opened in 1783, that was known at the time as the National Theater (of the kingdom of Bohemia) and built at the sole expense of a visionary noble, Count Franz Anton von Nostitz-Rieneck. It was later purchased by the Estates of Bohemia and is presently known as the Estates Theater.

Considering the importance of operatic productions in Mozart's musical output, the construction of this theater was virtually a pre-condition for the fertile connections he began to cultivate with Prague in the year 1786. The emergence of an outstanding conductor, Johann Joseph Strobach, who built the opera orchestra of Prague into one of the greatest orchestral ensembles in central Europe, was also critical in attracting Mozart to the city, as was the prominence of the Duschek couple (Franz Xaver and Josepha, who had unprecedented international connections for musicians from Prague who chose not leave the Bohemian lands. Josepha had a particularly strong connection with Mozart as a result of frequent visits she made to his native city of Salzburg, where she had relatives (one of her grandfathers was once mayor of Salzburg). The immediate impetus for Mozart's visits was the result of interest for his compositions created by a highly successful performance in 1783 of his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, one of the first operas ever performed in the Estates Theater. This performance excited interest in Mozart's instrumental music and undoubtedly made the management of the Estates Theater receptive to mounting a production of Le nozze di Figaro late in 1786, even though it was only a mixed success at its premiere in Vienna in May 1786.

Mozart's Symphony No. 38 "The Prague Symphony"

The Prague Symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings.

The Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in late 1786. It was premiered in Prague on January 19, 1787, during Mozart's first visit to the city. Because it was first performed in Prague, it is popularly known as the Prague Symphony. Mozart's autograph thematic catalogue records December 6, 1786, as the date of completion for this composition.

Other works written by Mozart about contemporary with this symphony include the Piano Trio in B♭, K. 502 (completed November 18, 1786), the Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503 (completed December 4, 1786), and scena and rondò Ch'io mi scordi di te?, K. 505, for soprano and orchestra (completed December 26, 1786).

Although Mozart's popularity among the Viennese waxed and waned, he was consistently popular among the Bohemians and had a devoted following in Prague. In spite of the fact that the Symphony No. 38 was first performed in Prague, it is not certain that it was actually written for Prague. Much of the confusion surrounds the chronology of its inception. It is clear that Mozart was invited to Prague on the strength of the reception of his opera Le nozze di Figaro during the 1786–87 winter season of the National Theater (now called the Estates Theater) in Prague. It is not known, however, when the run started, possibly in November 1786, possibly in December. No mention of the overwhelming success of Le nozze di Figaro is recorded in the Prague press until December 11, 1786 (5 days after the symphony was completed). It is certain that the opera's run before that week, but there is no documentation to confirm when. It is known from a letter of Leopold Mozart written in January 1787 that Mozart was invited to Prague by a group of musicians and patrons. It is possible that this invitation came through long before Le nozze di Figaro was actually performed in Prague, perhaps during the time of rehearsals, when the brilliance of the music would have been recognized already by the musicians playing it. It is also possible that the Prague Symphony was intended to be performed for the Advent instrumental concerts given in Vienna in December 1786 along with the Piano Concerto No. 25, but all that can be established for certain is that it was not performed in Vienna before it was performed in Prague.

The lavish use of wind instruments might offer a clue that the Prague Symphony was fashioned specifically with the Prague public in mind. The wind players of Bohemia were famed throughout Europe, and the Prague press specifically attributed the great success of the operas Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Le nozze di Figaro partially to their skillful deployment of wind instruments. It is also possible that the extensive use of winds in the Prague Symphony was simply the result of experiments with orchestration that Mozart had been cultivating in the orchestral accompaniments for his piano concertos for the previous two years and the new experience he had of writing for winds would have shown up in his symphonies regardless. No matter, the use of wind instruments in the Prague Symphony represents a major advance in Mozart's symphonic technique that was imitated in his last symphonies, and also by Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert. Indeed, it would be difficult to identify any earlier symphony by any composer not of a special type that contains so many passages in which no stringed instruments play at all, only various types of wind ensembles.

Mozart first came to Prague on January 11, 1787 and stayed until the second week of February. He was feted everywhere. On 19 January a concert was organized for his financial benefit at which the "Prague" Symphony was given its first performance. Mozart also improvised a solo on the piano — including variations on the popular aria "Non più andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro. Afterward, Mozart said he "counted this day as one of the happiest of his life." Daniel E. Freeman points out that the level of adulation accorded Mozart on this occasion by the musical public of Prague was unprecedented for any 18th-century musician being recognized simultaneously as both a composer and a performer. The great success of this visit generated a commission from the impresario Pasquale Bondini for another opera, which like The Marriage of Figaro was to have a libretto by Mozart's great collaborator Lorenzo Da Ponte.

 

The Plastic People of the Universe

The Plastic People of the Universe (PPU) is a Czech rock band from Prague. It was the foremost representative of Prague's underground culture (1968–1989), which had gone against the grain of Czechoslovakia's Communist regime. Due to their non-conformism, members of the band often suffered serious repercussions such as arrests. The group continues to perform despite the death of its founder, main composer and bassist, Milan "Mejla" Hlavsa in 2001.

From January into August 1968, under the rule of Communist Party leader Alexander Dubček, Czechoslovakians experienced the Prague Spring. In August, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia. This led to the overthrow of Dubček and to what came to be known as the normalization process. Less than a month after the invasion, Plastic People of the Universe was formed.

Bassist Milan Hlavsa formed the band in 1968 and was heavily influenced by Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground (Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention, had a song called "Plastic People" from their 1967 album Absolutely Free). Czech art historian and cultural critic Ivan Jirous became their manager/artistic director in the following year, fulfilling a role similar to the one Andy Warhol had with the Velvet Underground. Jirous introduced Hlavsa to guitarist Josef Janíček, and viola player Jiří Kabeš. The consolidated Czech communist government revoked the band's musicians license in 1970.

Because Ivan Jirous believed that English was the lingua franca of rock music, he invited Paul Wilson, a Canadian who had been teaching in Prague, to teach the band the lyrics of the American songs they covered and to translate their original Czech lyrics into English. Wilson served as lead singer for "the Plastics" from 1970-1972, and during this time, the band's repertoire drew heavily on songs by the Velvet Underground and the Fugs. The only 2 songs sung in Czech in this period were "Na sosnové větvi" and "Růže a mrtví", lyrics of both being written by Czech poet Jiří Kolář. Wilson encouraged them to sing in Czech. After he left, saxophonist Vratislav Brabenec joined the band and they began to draw upon poet Egon Bondy whose work had been banned by the government. In the following three years, Bondy's lyrics nearly completely dominated PPU's music. In December 1974, the band recorded their first "studio" album, Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned (the title being a play on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band), which was released in France in 1978.

In 1974, thousands of people traveled from Prague to the town of České Budějovice to visit the Plastics' performance. Stopped by police, they were sent back to Prague, and several students were arrested. The band was forced underground until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Unable to perform openly, an entire underground cultural movement formed around the band during the 1970s. The sympathizers of the movement were often called máničky, mainly due to their long hair.

In 1976, the Plastics and other people from the underground scene were arrested and put on trial (after performing at the Third festival of the second culture) by the Communist government to make an example. They were convicted of "organized disturbance of the peace" and sentenced to terms in prison ranging from 8 to 18 months. Paul Wilson was deported even though he had left the band in 1972. Although the band was not associated with politics, the Communist regime's accusations against them ended up with many protests. It was partly in protest of these arrests and prosecution that playwright Václav Havel and others wrote the Charter 77. The Trial of the Plastics became a milestone for opposition against the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia for human rights.

In 1978, the PPU recorded Pašijové hry velikonoční (released in Canada as "The Passion Play" at Paul Wilson's company Boží mlýn). The lyrics were written earlier by Vratislav Brabenec. In 1979, followed Jak bude po smrti, being influenced by a Czech philosopher and writer from the first half of the 20th century, Ladislav Klíma. In 1980, they rehearsed and performed a new record, recorded one year later, Co znamená vésti koně (released in Canada as "Leading Horses"). In 1982, Vratislav Brabenec was forced by the police to leave and emigrate to Canada. After he left, the band released its next record Hovězí porážka (1983) and Půlnoční myš (1986, Midnight Mouse). Czech record label Globus International has collected the original work of the Plastic People as 10 CDs, and released them in various forms several times between 1992 and 2004, with various liner notes and photos, and also as a limited edition box set. They have also released other PPU live and solo albums, and related work such as DG 307.

Despite their clashes with the government, the musicians never considered themselves activists and always claimed that they wanted only to play their music. The band broke up in 1988, with some members forming the group Půlnoc (meaning "midnight" in Czech), which recorded briefly for Arista Records in the USA. At President Havel's suggestion, they reunited in 1997 in honor of the 20th anniversary of Charter 77, and have performed around the world regularly since then.

 

Czech Museum of Music

Karmelitská 2/4, 118 00 Praha 1

The new seat of the Czech Museum of Music is located in the former Baroque church of St. Mary Magdalene at Lesser Side, built in the 17th Century according to the proposal of Francesco Caratti. The church was gradually rebuilt after the dissolution of the Dominican Monastery in 1783. Among other things, it served as a Police barracks and archive. The unusual symbiosis of the early Baroque church architecture with the classicist adjustment of usage and newly finished reconstruction of the Museum offers visitors a detail of an impressive combination of monumentality.

Anyone who enters the building is struck by the grandiose assembly hall and the special magic left behind by changing eras. The National Museum has taken the unique opportunity to revitalise this space – once decorated with Baroque masterpieces and resounding with purportedly one of the biggest organs of 17th-century Prague – with music once again.

After the Dominican monastery at this location was closed in 1783, the church was remodelled in stages, serving successively as a post office, police barracks, and an archive. The unusual synthesis of early Baroque church architecture with Neo-Classical utilitarian modifications and the modern adaptation as a museum overwhelms everyone who enters the building, with its monumental atrium and its special magic left here by the transformations over the ages. Little known until recently, the building lies on Karmelitská Street close to the Church of the Virgin Mary Victorious which houses the Infant Jesus of Prague.

The building’s permanent exposition, titled Man–Instrument–Music, presents musical instruments not only as remarkable evidence of skill in craft and art, but as a fundamental mediator between human beings and music. The first room of the tour conveys the diversity of popular music in the 20th century, to the aural accompaniment of an original composition by Milan Cais, The Four Elements. From here the visitor enters the world of experimental microtonal music, with instruments created expressly for this style that constitute a unique part of the museum’s collection of musical instruments. Then a historical continuum from the 17th century through the 19th leads the visitor through the world of keyboard instruments, where the fundamental trends of their development are represented by several superb specimens. Rooms with preserved Neo-Classical wall paintings are devoted primarily to bowed and plucked stringed instruments. The valuable collection of instruments from the ‘Rožmberk Court Ensemble’ (Cappella Dominorum de Rosis) offers a window into the world of the Renaissance and the early Baroque.

Stringed instruments bearing names of masters from the celebrated Italian and French schools are an ornament to the museum’s collection, making it comparable with collections of other leading museums in the world. The glory of the Prague violin-making school is documented by a selection of instruments in the last of the rooms having wall paintings. Also significant is the collection of guitars and lutes, as well as harps, which attract attention with their charming shapes and decorations. The next 2 rooms show the diversity of woodwind and brass instruments, from small flutes to basset horns and serpents, and from signal trumpets to unusual ‘Šediphones’. The rich sound of the winds is often combined in practice with percussion instruments, to which the next room is devoted. This space is complemented by, among other items, beautiful and unique glass harmonicas. A small selection also acquaints the visitor with folk instruments, and at the end of the tour one can admire the charming appearance and sound of mechanical instruments of various types.

The visitor’s excursion into the world of musical instruments is accompanied by music that sounds from speakers in the various parts of the exposition. Use headphones to listen to high-quality recordings made on individual instruments.

 

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