Mailbox

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This week in Mailbox: response to RP's report on Czech-Peruvian relations; the Czech Republic's most famous beach; Czech-born composer Jaromir Weinberger. Listeners quoted: Ashik Eqbal Tokon, Bangladesh; Carlos, Canada; Muhammad Shamim, India; Pasy Libby, US.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's weekly programme in which we read from your letters and answer your questions.

First of all here is an e-mail from our regular listener Ashik Eqbal Tokon who tunes in to Radio Prague in Bangladesh.

"Dear Radio Prague, with this e-mail I would like to congratulate the Czech National Soccer team on winning a spot at the World Cup games in Germany in 2006. I am a great fan of your country and I will be praying for the success of your team."

And I am sure all Czech football fans will be praying with you.

Now, in a recent story about the first Peruvian food festival in Prague we spoke not only about the delicacies it introduced to Czechs but also the history of the two countries' relations. And this e-mail came from Canada from a Peruvian man who signed as Carlos.

"I was just surfing through the internet and found your article. Sure, you could come one day to Peru and enjoy the very delicious Peruvian plates. Thanks to you I realised that our ambassador is doing something interesting in your lovely country. I didn't know that Bata Rimac was a Czech company, that's great. I live in Canada, and it seems that I have seen one here as well. About beers, well, here we have three, Pilsen, Cusqueña and Cristal. And of course, we have the soda called Inca Kola. I never knew that Balbin was a Czech name, I have a friend with that name. Un saludo afectuosisimo desde Canada de un peruano."

Thank you very much for that e-mail and now, another of our faithful listeners, Muhammad Shamim from India would like to know the most famous beach in the Czech Republic.

Prague's beach
Well, the Czech Republic is a landlocked country, so the only beaches we have are on riverbanks or lakes. As far as I know, none of those particularly stands out among the rest. But in 2004 the 5th district of Prague took inspiration from Paris and piled tonnes of sand on the embankment on the left bank of the Vltava River. So for two summers in a row Prague citizens and visitors have had a chance to enjoy a proper sand beach complete with umbrellas and deck chairs and could even play beach volleyball there.

And on a different topic, Patsy Libby from the United States sent us this question

"I would like to find some information about the Czech composer Jaromir Weinberger. His Polka and Fugue from "Svanda the Bagpiper" are very popular in this country but it seems to be very difficult to find out much information about him. Can you give me some information or guide me to some sources?"

You're right in that information about Jaromir Weinberger is hard to come by. (Actually, Radio Prague broadcast a short piece about him earlier this year.) Jaromir Weinberger was born in 1896 in Prague. He studied piano and composition with Vitezslav Novak and later with Max Reger in Leipzig. In 1922 he accepted a teaching post in Ithaca in the United States. Later he worked briefly with the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.

His opera "Svanda Dudak" ("Schwanda the Bagpiper"), first performed in Prague in 1927 with little success, quickly made him famous abroad and was played internationally. In 1939 the opera was staged in New York on the occasion of the World's Fair and Jaromir Weinberger was invited. The Weinbergers arrived in the United States in January 1939 and stayed, which saved their lives.

Besides his most famous work "Schwanda the Bagpiper", Weinberger wrote another three operas ("Beloved Voice", "Outcasts of Poker Flat" and "Wallenstein"), four operettas, a ballet and many orchestral pieces, the most famous being probably "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree". Jaromir Weinberger died in 1967 in Florida, he probably overdosed on sleeping pills.


And we only have time to repeat the competition question for November.

We are looking for the name of one of the founding fathers of the world-famous fast-food chain McDonald's. Born in Chicago in 1902, the son of Czech immigrants from the town of Plzen, he tried many jobs before he met the brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. He went into business with them and acquired franchising rights to open a Mc Donald's restaurant of his own in 1955. With the opening of his first franchise he founded McDonald's Corporation (originally "McDonald's Systems, Inc."). He died a multimillionaire in 1984.

Please send us the name of the man by the end of November to the usual address, Radio Prague, 120 99 Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz.