česká hudba

I enjoy music.  I won't boast of some fantastic adoration of music.  I can easily go a full day in front of the computer without pressing "play" on itunes.  Yet, I  enjoy music, and music is the only art form that has moved me to tears.  As such, I am quite happy to report that I have had the opportunity to go to four very different concerts while in the Czech Republic.  The first experience was on 6 September.  I had been invited to the city center by some colleagues.  I went with one; we saw the city tower and had a nice coffee.  There had been people gathering in the square earlier, and a stage was set up.  We wandered toward the square and saw . . .

Kryštof concert in one of the town squares.

KRYŠTOF.  It is one of the beloved "local" bands.  The group is composed of people from various countries, but the lead singer, Richard Krajčo, went to school in Ostrava to study to be an electrician, and later went on to work as a DJ, an actor, and as a singer.  Anyhow, they love him here, and I was thrilled to see him perform some songs.  One of which is used in this promotional video.

You'll hear that the music is kind of alternative-rock, and it's probably the Czech band I have found most suited to my taste.  Later that week on 8 September, I went with another colleague and her husband for the opening orchestra concert of the season.  This was located in a former communist buildings where parties for all the communist leaders were held.  My companions for the evening told me they could never quite feel at ease in the space.  The evening's program included Dvořák, of course, as well as a harp concerto and a Tchaikovsky's third(?) symphony, I believe.  The concert hall had a lovely organ.  I enjoyed the chance to get out in "smart" dress and enjoy some quality music.  Locals apparently have some qualms with the conductor, and tend to believe he is incapable of piano or pianissimo. 

Concert space at Dům Kultury

 The third concert I experienced was in Prague.  It was on 11 September, and it was a specific concert in light of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.  The concert featured the Plastic People of the Universe, a band important during the Velvet Revolution.  They had a strong underground presence--having been banned--and members were also arrested for their views.  The concert brought a large number of ex-pats as well as some hardcore Czech fans.  Forgive me the video quality, but I think you get a bit of a sense of the environment.  The  video has a few seconds of one Czech rocking out (around :27)--I wonder if he remembers them from before the revolution.  I thought I'd spare you a second video, but it's worth reading about them in order to see how wonderful these old rockers look.

Finally, tonight I went to a concert with yet another colleague from school.  She invited me one day after we were doing a blitz through Czech music via youtube.  She had seen an advertisement that Marie Ruttrová (a classic and beloved Czech vocalist) was going to be performing at Třebkovický Koláč--a local festival with koláč (classic Czech pastry--similar to what we would call a Danish), burčák (I don't know what to call it--it's the first wine of the season and it's very sweet and not very alcoholic), and all sorts of craft stands.  An a Capella folk group was playing when we arrived.  They were then replaced by some instrumental groups.  One featured a dulcimer-player.  Apparently the dulcimer has some history here in the Czech Republic.  This group was accompanied by six dancers, performing traditional Czech dance.  The dancers were quite fantastic.

After these groups were done, the place became crowded, despite temperatures of 10-12 Celsius (low 50s F), because Marie Rottrová is quite popular here.  Her popularity is heightened by her being a native of Ostrava and also by her impending retirement.  I had enjoyed some burčák with my colleague and was fantasizing about Czech pastries.  Unfortunately, we were too slow in our pursuits.  They ran completely out of koláčy (I hope that's the correct plural form) before Neřež (the Czech band which would accompany Rottrová) even took the stage.

I actually preferred the band Neřež to the vocal styling of Marie Rottrová, but it was nice to see a Czech diva be adored by her fans.  Immediately next to me, a middle-aged and mustached man clapped completely off-rhythm to her songs.  The crowd sang along, and everyone enjoyed her occasional swaying of the hips in between verses.

In the United States, most people will confess some sort of love for music, but I wonder if it is more genuine here.  There seems to be a celebration of the local talent and a certain faithfulness practiced by those in the audience.   I hope to continue in the enjoyment of local Czech music.


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