Cesky Krumlov

Today's Mailbox is presented by Olga Szantova and Nicole Klement, back after a week of wonderful skiing, and surprised to see the change on Radio Prague's web-site.

O: You mean the fact that Mailbox is now included along with the rest of our programs? We were planning that for some time, and I'm glad we've finally gotten around to it.

N: Which is fine, because listeners with access to the Internet can look up our program even weeks after the program has been aired.

O: Which, I think, they'll appreciate it especially in connection with our station's new QSL cards for 2002. It's a series of 8 cards, each showing one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic.

N: Listeners can see what the QSL cards look like on Radio Prague's web-site, and many of them have, actually. For example Gordon Blom from Rochester, New York, USA, who writes:

Cesky Krumlov
"I checked out this year's series of QSL cards and they look awesome."

O: But those cards only show photographs of the places, and last week we promised to give some information about each of them in Mailbox - one at a time.

N: That's a good idea. So let's start with the card that features a photo of the town of Cesky Krumlov in South Bohemia.

O: You've chose my favorite. It's a beautiful city on the Vltava River, the river which flows on to the North and passes through Prague. Cesky Krumlov is one of the best preserved historic towns in the Czech Republic. The castle which dominates the city was built in the first half of the 13th Century. The chateau which was added to the original building later is one of the largest in the country. The whole complex includes 40 buildings around 5 courtyards.

N: The most famous part of the Cesky Krumlov chateau is the theatre, which is unique in its mural paintings. The walls are painted as if they were theatre boxes with people in historic costumes in them and you have to look twice to realize they aren't real. This week's Spotlight also focused on the Cesky Krumlov theatre, so if you want to learn more about it, you can log into Radio Prague's web-site and find it there.

O: The castle is beautifully situated on a rock overlooking the river and the city, which itself is very well preserved, keeping its medieval layout with many Gothic and Renaissance buildings.

N: So, that's Cesky Krumlov, which Dxers can see on one of Radio Prague's QSL cards which we will be sending out for reception reports in 2002.

O: Now, on to listeners' letters. Susan Wattson e-mails probably from somewhere in the United States, because she writes:

"Do you have the same after-Christmas sales rushes as we do, or is it just an American invention?"

N: It may be an American invention, but it certainly has caught on in the world and after 1990 we have been catching up fast as well.

O: Sales used to be practically unknown in this country. Like all the communist block countries we had a planned economy and that included set prices. Everything you bought had the price printed on it, and that price was the same regardless of where you did your shopping - in the center of Prague or in a small village in the middle of nowhere.

N: It took some time before people got used to the change and learned to shop around for bargains. But Czechs have caught on and many people have actually learned to wait for sales, which you can certainly see if you look around the stores right now.

O: Especially in the hyper-markets, which have caught on much faster than anywhere else. Nowadays 29 percent of Czechs do their main shopping in hyper-markets, those enormous shopping centers in the outskirts of towns.

N: Hyper markets have been growing real fast for the past 5 years or so. Only last year another 20 of them were opened. No other country in Europe beats the Czech Republic in the number of new hyper-markets.

N: With all the good and the bad that brings. But yes, we do have huge sales after Christmas.

O: And now on to a more cultural topic: Danny Jameson, from Cheshire, England writes:

"I believe that Radio Praha's call sign is taken from Dvorak's 9th symphony. Is there any chance of hearing this?"

N: Yes you are right Radio Prague's signature tune is the horn fanfare from Dvorak's 9th Symphony. It was this station's signature tune since we started broadcasting before World War II and we have been using it again after the Velvet Revolution. During the years of Communist rule the signature tune was a militant revolutionary song which started with the words Forward Left

O: As for a chance to hear it, that's no problem, it's often played at concerts throughout the world and there are any number of recordings of it - you should get it in any store that sells classical music.

N: Actually, it's not usually referred to as the 9th symphony, it's better known as the New World Symphony.

O: That's because Antonin Dvorak composed it during his stay in New York, where he was the director of the then newly founded Conservatory. Until a few years ago the building on New York's East 17th Street, in which Antonin Dvorak and his family lived from 1892 to 1895 was still standing. Today there is only a statue on near by Stuyvesant Square, to commemorate his years in New York.

N: That statue was unveiled on September 13th 1997, by way of compensation for the fact that the Dvorak building had been torn down in 1991.

O: Actually, New York had a Dvorak statue sooner than Prague, where it was unveiled just a couple of years ago.

O: And still on a musical note, even though this time it's a different kind of music, here is an e-mail from Mr.Darin Morris:

"Do you know of any English translations of the lyrics of Karel Kryl? My wife is Czech, and she has introduced me to Karel Kryl - the songs are very beautiful, and my wife does a rough translation of the meaning behind the songs. They are amazing. It would be wonderful to get an anthology of his works in English."

O: I'm sorry, I've not been able to find any translation of Karel Kryl's lyrics. They certainly have not come out in print. I've even asked a friend who works in a bookshop that specializes in foreign language literature and he confirmed that.

N: I guess that's not so surprising, because Karel Kryl and his songs are so very Czech and linked with this country. He was a well known singer and author of numerous lyrics in the 1960s and he fled the country after the Soviet-lead invasion in 1968.

0: He was very popular especially for his songs against the Russian invasion, but throughout the years we could only hear him in the Czech programs of Radio Free Europe and his recordings were passed on among friends, officially he was on the black list, none of his songs were permitted to be played.

N: But he certainly wasn't forgotten and even after 1989 he remained very popular. Sadly, he passed away shortly after the Velvet Revolution.

O: So, sorry, we do not have any translation of his lyrics, but we'll do the best we can, we'll play one of his songs at the end of today's program. It's a song called The King and the Clown.

N: But before doing that I'd like to remind listeners once more that Mailbox is now on Radio Prague's web-site, along with all of Radio Prague's programs, so if you've missed parts of it, or if you'd like to come back to any of the information, including the information on the sites in this year's QSL cards, look us up on

O: And with that reminder, here is the promised song by Karel Kryl....

Authors: Olga Szantová , Nicole Klement
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