Mailbox

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This week in Mailbox: We look at where you can get a good Czech version of Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast. Mr Topolanek's less than civil behaviour has also drawn your ire and we also hear about the impact of increased police security on Prague's metro system. Listeners quoted: Bezazel Feraht ben Rabah, Mike Bruce, Lynda-Marie Hauptman, Aloisie Krasny, Consuelo Nguyen and Colin Rose.

Photo: CzechTourism
We start this edition of Mailbox with a query from Bezazel Feraht ben Rabah in Algeria who asked us what our most important festivals are around spring and summer time.

Well, it's funny you should ask us that Bezazel because - as many of you know - this weekend actually marks one of the biggest events in the Christian calendar - Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is widely celebrated in the Czech Republic. On this note don't forget to tune in to our special programme this Easter Monday, which focuses on spring and Easter music written by the Czech composer Jaroslav Krcek.

Moving on now and Mike Bruce in Melbourne, Australia had this to say about a recent letter from Prague

Photo: CzechTourism
"Thank you Lenka Petakova for your piece on Ma Vlast. I had never heard this piece of music properly until living in the Czech Republic and fell in love with it. It's a beautiful, inspirational and evocative piece of music - we often listened to it at home, saw it performed as a ballet at the State Opera, and I ran to it across Charles Bridge at the start of the Prague Marathon. Whenever we are feeling nostalgic about our time in the Czech Republic we play it at home. We are also even considering playing it at our wedding as we get so much joy out of it."

Thank you Mike for your email. Lenka has actually finished her stint here at Radio Prague, but I'm sure she'll be glad to hear your comments, which I'll definitely pass on to her.

Lynda-Marie Hauptman in the United States also liked Lenka's letter about Bedrich Smetana's music dedicated to the Czech Lands and asked us this question about a particular part of Ma Vlast concerning the Vltava River:

"The conductor of the best version I have heard of Vltava is named George Szell. Would his name, by any chance, also be Czech? I have found, with Strauss pieces, that the best conductors or performers are Austrian, and I was wondering, considering the passion involved, if Mr. Szell might be Czech."

Well Lynda, according to our information George Szell is actually an American conductor who was born in Hungary, but if you are looking for a good recording of Ma Vlast - or My Country as it's called in English - by a Czech conductor, my classic-music-loving colleagues here at Radio Prague assure me that Jiri Belohlavek's version of the piece with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra won't disappoint.

Moving on now and

"I am appalled with the article on the conduct of the Czech Prime Minister. This is a position that is representative of one's country and to have someone who conducts himself in a less than respectful manner should not uphold this position. How can the world be expected to take a country seriously if its representative is a disgrace."

Thank you for your sending us your thoughts, Aloisie. If it's any consolation Mr Topolanek's daughter has told a Czech newspaper in an interview that she is going to do her damndest to get her father to behave himself in future!

Now, Consuelo Nguyen in Italy, who visited Prague recently, had this to say in response to an old report she read by Dita Asiedu on police security measures in the city's metro system:

"Today at about 1.30pm we were surrounded by seven men while getting on the metro at Museum stop. These men tried to pick pocket us, but thanks to quick action by the security police in the metro, they were able to stop the train and interrogate four of the men, three escaped. We are very impressed with the actions of the security police at the metro and wanted to make sure you acknowledge the great work this force is doing. We will come back to Prague again because we know the citizens and the city management care about their visitors."

Thank you Consuelo for your comments. It's nice to hear you had such a positive experience with Prague's finest!


That's all we have for you this week. Before we go, we should remind you about our April competition question.

It sometimes happens that two inventors simultaneously come up with the same idea independently of each other. This was for instance the case with the lightning rod which was invented by Benjamin Franklin and also a Czech scientist at roughly the same time. We'd like to know the name of the Czech inventor.

By the way, this mystery person is in fact a real historical figure. So - Colin Rose from Huddersfield, England - although your suggestion that it was the fictional legendary Czech inventor and all round renaissance man Jara Cimrman was an excellent guess - it's not going to win you one of our prizes unfortunately. Of course, you're welcome to try again!

Answers to the competition as well as all your letters should be sent to Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, the Czech Republic or you can also send us a quick email to English@radio.cz.