Rosa Bohemica brings Czech music from early Baroque to swing to forgotten castles and churches

Festival Rosa Bohemica

Rosa Bohemica is not your typical arts festival in that it doesn’t just take place in one location, but in 13. Spread out over four different Czech regions, the festival includes concerts, theatre and talks, all held in unique and exceptional settings.

Thirteen concerts, four theatre performances and two lectures – that’s what the fourth edition of the Rosa Bohemica festival offers in its programme this year. Founder and director of the festival Gabriela Eibenová explains what makes the festival unique:

Gabriela Eibenová | Photo: Vladimír Kroc,  Czech Radio

“It brings together historical places and quality music. There is a high concentration of excellent concerts in Prague, but 50km away, people don’t get to hear it. So I wanted to bring these terrific composers and artists out of Prague and fill beautiful places in other parts of the country with their music – beautiful places where very likely such music used to be played a lot more often, because they are locations like churches, castles, and so on.”

One of the aims of the festival is to try to breathe some life back into remarkable yet often-forgotten historical buildings.

“The castle in Pátek nad Ohří is a kind of belvedere in the Central Bohemian Highlands, but it’s a completely forgotten place, the castle is largely defunct. However, there’s a beautiful chapel inside it, which was undiscovered for a long time, no one knew about it.”

Castle in Pátek nad Ohří | Photo: Marie Čcheidzeová,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0

Some of these locations, including the castle in Pátek nad Ohří, have been a regular part of Rosa Bohemica’s programme over the four years it has been running, but this year there are also some new additions.

“For example, the church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Bohutín. It’s a neo-gothic church, so it’s not particularly old, but it’s the church where Antonín Dvořák went to play the organ when he was at his summer residence in Vysoká u Příbramě, which is only a few kilometres away. So this year we’re filling the church with Dvořák’s music.”

However, the festival is by no means only about classical music or the great Czech masters like Smetana and Dvořák. Although its programme is, as the name Rosa Bohemica suggests, oriented around Czech music, this encompasses a variety of genres including early Moravian Baroque, music inspired by Irish folk, Baroque and Jewish musical traditions, and even swing. And it also includes lesser-known composers, often from earlier periods of history long before the 19th-century Czech National Revival, says Gabriela Eibenová.

“Some of these names may have become more familiar to listeners nowadays – for example, the early Baroque composer and hymn writer Adam Václav Michna from Otradovice perhaps isn’t so unknown anymore. We’ll also have Kryštof Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice – a Czech nobleman and composer who joined the Protestant Bohemian Revolt against the Habsburgs. There will also be a lot of anonymous compositions – I always say that ‘anonymous’ is the most famous and most played early composer.”

The festival kicks off on 8 June with a theatrical performance of Karel Čapek’s Jak se co dělá (How It Is Done), in which the author talks with insight and wit about how newspapers, theatre and film are made – aptly staged at the Karel Čapek Memorial in Stará Huť near Dobříš. Although this particular performance wouldn’t be such a great choice for non-Czech speaking attendees, there are plenty of concerts which require no linguistic knowledge whatsoever, with two or three events taking place every month throughout the summer and autumn right up until 28 November.

The full programme, including a map of where the concerts are taking place and ticket information, is available at