Mailbox

Вышеград ночью (Фото: Кристина Макова, Чешское радио - Радио Прага)
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In Mailbox today: seasons in the Czech Republic, the Czech national dance, plaques on the Czech Radio building. Listeners quoted: Tsunehito Inoue, Ashraful Islam, Muhammad Shamim, Howard Tuffrey.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s weekly platform for your views, questions and comments:

Our listener Tsunehito Inoue from Japan sent us a “season’s greeting”:

“We have four seasons in a year, now we are in autumn, colorful leaves are very beautiful everywhere in Japan, especially on mountain slopes. The climate is good for exercise. Do you have some seasons in the Czech Republic, too? I guess it almost the same.”

Yes, we have four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. This autumn has been quite pleasant and mild so far, with daytime temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius. According to weather lore, the first snow in this part of the world should come on St. Martin’s day, November 11, but – in Prague anyway – it didn’t and I dare say it’s not missed. Days are getting shorter and shorter and will keep on doing so until the winter solstice on December 21.

Our regular listener Ashraful Islam from Bangladesh sent us this message:

“We are going to observe Eid-ul-Azha which is the symbol of sacrifice on 28th November. It’s a very happy occasion for Muslims around the world. I am also very happy to share the joy of Eid with all of you. Eid Mubarak.”

And we extend greetings to all our listeners around the world who observe the festival.

Muhammad Shamim from the Indian state of Kerala would like to know:

“What is the national dance of the Czech Republic?”

I suppose we can say that the polka is the Czech national dance although it is danced throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Neither its origin, nor the etymology of the name are quite clear but the name is believed to originate from the Czech word “půlka”, meaning “half”, because of the dance’s 2/4 time signature. Apparently it was later altered to “polka”, which in Czech means "a Polish woman" to express solidarity with the oppressed Polish people. The most famous piece of polka music is undisputedly Jaromír Vejvoda’s “Beer Barrel Polka”, known in Czech as “Škoda lásky”. The popular genre was developed by such great composers as Bedřich Smetana in the 19th century.

Howard Tuffrey from the English town of Portishead recently visited the Czech capital:

The plaque commemorating those who laid their lives in the battle for the Radio during the Prague Uprising in May 1945
“I saw so much, but I also missed out on many places too simply because of the lack of time; so I will be back again and hopefully in the near future, that's a promise. I did come to the Czech Radio building and took some photos; ... I saw the place, a place of such historic significance, particularly with the tragic events of August 1968 in mind. I didn't find the plaque which commemorates those who lost their lives at the building during that time – I didn't ask because none of the people on the front desk spoke English, and my knowledge of Czech only amounts to a few words and phrases.”

The historic Czech Radio building underwent extensive renovation in the past couple of years and during that time the plaques commemorating Czech Radio workers killed during WWII and those who laid their lives in the battle for the Radio during the Prague Uprising in May 1945 were removed from the front entrance on Vinohradská street to the building’s rear entrance on Římská street. They have just recently been put back.

And finally it’s time to repeat our quiz question for this month.

In November we would like you to tell us the name of the man who composed this famous piece of music:

As some listeners from the more remote parts of the world complained the question was too difficult, let me just give a small hint. The name of the composer is identical with the name of a well-known Czech communist journalist executed by the Nazis.

Your answers need to reach us by November 30, at english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Thanks for tuning in today and until next week, happy listening.