Arts news

Anna K., photo: CTK

Anna K and Daniel Landa hold concert for Czech soldiers in Kuwait. Galileo musical kicks off on anniversary of famous scientist's birth. Czech Philharmonic travels to USA. Theatre Institute releases two publications. National Gallery offers special Valentine's Day programme.

Anna K and Daniel Landa hold concert for Czech soldiers in Kuwait

Anna K., photo: CTK
Defence Minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, visited the Czech chemical warfare unit in Kuwait on Tuesday with a special surprise to take the soldier's minds off the stress and psychological burden of their work. Czech singers Anna K and Daniel Landa held a concert for around 400 soldiers that are currently stationed in the Gulf at Camp Dauha.

Galileo musical kicks off on anniversary of famous scientist's birth

February 15th marks the 439th anniversary of the birth of the famous Italian scientist, Galileo Galilei. And it is on this anniversary that Czech singer Janek Ledecky intends to introduce his new musical project to the Czech audience. So far, over 40,000 tickets have been sold for Galileo, which as the name already explains features the remarkable physician, astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher as the leading character.

Czech Philharmonic travels to USA

The Czech Philharmonic left for the United States on Wednesday ahead of fifteen concerts in several concert halls throughout the country. Three of the most prestigious will be held at New York's Carnegie Hall on the 20th, 21st, and 23rd of February. The concerts will include works by Russian composers Dimitrij Sostakovic and Sergei Prokofiev as well as symphonies by Dvorak and Rachmaninov. The Czech Philharmonic is expected to stay in the US until March 7th.

Theatre Institute releases two publications

Prague's Theatre Institute has released two publications that total over one thousand pages. The first features works by the contemporary British playwright of Czech origin, Tom Stoppard. Tom Stoppard was born as "Tom Straussler" in the Moravian town of Zlin, Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1937. To escape the Nazis, his family moved to Singapore in 1939 but was forced to flee Singapore just two years later in 1941, shortly before the Japanese invasion. Still a young boy, Tom fled to Darjeeling, India with his mother and brother. His father was killed during the invasion. In 1946, the family emigrated to England and Tom took up the name Stoppard after his mother re-married a major in the British army. At the age of 17, after his second year of secondary school, Tom Stoppard left school to work as a journalist. Showing a talent for dramatic criticism, he served as freelance drama critic for the British literary magazine SCENE, writing both under his own name and the pseudonym William Boot. He also started writing plays for radio and television and soon managed to secure himself a literary agent. His first major success came with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966), which literary gained him fame as a modern playwright overnight when it opened in London in 1967. The play, which records the tale of Hamlet as told from the view of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare's play, was immediately labelled as a modern dramatic masterpiece. Radio Prague spoke to Michal Zantovsky who translated one of the plays in the collection into Czech:

"The publication is a volume of six plays by Tom Stoppard who for some time has been one of the favourite playwrights in this country."

Why did you choose to translate this author and part of this book?

"I did it before 1989, I think in 1986 or 1987. The play is called Travesties and it's a play about three historical characters' twist, on Tzara, the founder of Dadaism, James Joyce, the author of Ulysses, and Ulyanov [Lenin], the leader of the Russian October Revolution. It was still in the times of communism, so it was a very risky subject to translate and we couldn't find anyone to produce the play, so we produced it ourselves in the end in a small amateur theatre in 1988. The authorities then did not think too highly of our efforts."

What sort of readers is the book trying to attract in the Czech Republic?

"Tom Stoppard is a playwright for middle class, educated audiences. His plays are comedies on serious subjects, which require some considerable education on the part of the audience. So the plays will be of interest to many Czech readers and hopefully also to theatre producers and directors."

The second publication released by the Theatre Institute is a Czech translation of a collection of ten works by playwright Odon von Horvath. Mr Horvath, who was born in Fiume, Hungary, on December 9, 1901, studied in Budapest and Vienna before moving to Germany where he planned to stay for good. In reaction to the negative political climate, Horvath took up playwriting, using it as a means to criticise and attack fascism with plays such as Tales from the Vienna Woods ( 1930), a travesty about indifferent townspeople who casually stand by and watch Nazi forces rise to power. Along with other works such as Revolt on Hill 3018 (1927) and Kasimir and Karoline (1931), this play won Horvath considerable admiration from the intellectuals of his day and even landed him the Kleist Prize in 1931. But while his theatrical activities gained him much attention, they also soon endangered his life, forcing Horvath to flee Germany in 1933. The courageous Horvath then moved to Austria where he continued to write both plays and novels, the most acclaimed of which include The Stranger from the Seine (1933) and Figaro Gets a Divorce (1937). He died on June 1, 1938, in Paris, France, during a storm, when a falling tree branch fell upon him.

National Gallery offers special Valentine's Day programme

And finally, the National Gallery has prepared a special programme in light of Valentine's Day called St. Valentyne and Art. Besides numerous surprises, every couple that visits the gallery on Friday also gets one free ticket that is valid for all permanent expositions and other exhibitions including Joseph Koudelka's photography and the Vaclav Brozik exhibition.