Ludvík Martinů is changing the world (Ludvík Martinů mění svět)

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Man can change the world in many ways: by planting thousands (or one) trees, by building skyscrapers, by writing a poem, painting a landscape, composing a song. Or by trying to find – and finding – ways how to increase our knowledge about the universe or the human brain or how to do things differently and better. A man we wrote about sometime a year ago, Ludvík Martinů, fits in the last mentioned group. Some of us know, that he is a distinguished scientist; some know him as a member of the Montreal unit of the Sokol Gymnastic Organization, and still others as the husband of Alena, the author of a fascinating book. This brief comment is about Ludvík Martinů, the scientist (and entrepreneur).

He graduated in Prague in 1985 in a mysterious field known as Nanocomposite films formed by metal clusters in dielectric matrices fabricated by a hybrid PECVD process. Continue reading

The visit of the Dalai Lama in Prague – dedicated to Vaclav Havel with love (O návštěvě Dalajlámy v Praze – věnováno Václavu Havlovi)

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Author: Kateřina Erlebachová ( PLUS)

“What? The Dalai Lama arrives? I have not heard about that!” That was the answer to the SMS sent to a friend from Slovakia who texted me a week before the Dalai Lama arrived in Prague. I immediately began to search the Internet to see if this is correct, because it seemed impossible to me, that such news is not published publicly. I found almost nothing except for pages of Vaclav Havel:

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A Handful of Words for Josef Škvorecký (Hrst slov na rozloučenou s Josefem Škvoreckým)

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The house Zdena and Josef Škvorecký for quite a number of years called their home (and Zdena still does), is located in one of the nicest Toronto residential areas: an area of well-preserved middle-age residences with well-tended gardens and here and there a magnificent old oak (or maple) tree. Škvorecky’s is a truly historical house. Not only because it was a pilgrimage stop for journalists and prominent visitors from the Czech Republic (in February, 1990 – when their native land was still called Czechoslovakia – it witnessed a reception following president Havel’s appearance at the Convocation Hall of the University of Toronto, where he delivered an important speech to several thousands of his countrymen and received an honorary doctorate from the York University); but mainly because it was the editorial and publishing centre of 68 publishers, the most important exile publishing house. It is the house, where the last several years of his life he was cared for by Zdena, and from which he was taken to the hospital, where he died, after just a few days, in the morning hours of January 2, 2012.

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Richard Krpač’s Last Day in Toronto

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Author: Josef Čermák ( PLUS)

An evening in the Mysteriously Yours Theatre in Toronto
Richard Krpač completed his four year tour of duty as the first Consul General of the Czech Republic in Toronto on June 30th. He left behind a terrific amount of work, starting – as we have already reported – with bringing into the Czech-Canadian circle an impressive number of highly successful countrymen and countrywomen, who until that time had little contact with the community. One of his most memorable actions was the evening at the Hart House of the University of Toronto, which he named Glamorous Prague, an event in which he managed to bring together hockey, Canadian Indian children, and Czech models. Continue reading

He belongs to people who know what they want

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Author: Martina Roe – Václav Židek ( PLUS)

“Let live our Czech Republic!”       
We all call from our lungs.  
We respect and love Masaryk
But we do not do anything ourselves!

(Karel Hasler 1919) 

Thomas Hasler was born in Prague in 1941, a month before his father was murdered at the Mauthausen concentration camp by the Nazis. He left Czechoslovakia with his mother in 1949, a year after the Communists came to power, and grew up in Australia. He spent his childhood until the age of 16 years in Australia.  He moved with his mother to the U.S. in 1958.  He now lives in Baltimore. He  earned a B.A. from Hobart College and an M.A. from the University of MichiganContinue reading

Concert in Memory of Patriška ze Slaného

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Author: Josef Čermák

The concert on Sunday, November 28, 2010, one in the series of Dr. Miloš Krajný’s Nocturnes, was sponsored by the estate and family of Patriška ze Slaného, Vlasty Scheybalová, born Provazníková. Both CzechFolks and the Toronto Satellite published articles about Vlasta a few months ago.

Today, just a few dates: Vlasta was born in 1928 in Slaný and she died there in 2009. For a number of years, she lived with her husband Frantisek and son of the same name in Toronto. Today, all of them sleep in their family grave in a charming little cemetery in Bolton, Ontario. A fate – at least seemingly – not dissimilar to the fate of many Czech and Slovak families. Except that the fate of the Scheybal family was written more tragically. And also, because Vlasta left behind an unusually deep footprint.

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Alice Herz Sommer: Thanks to music I am still alive today…

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Author: Martina Roe

A few days ago I set off with my son to visit Alice Herz Sommer in her very cosy and modest flat in Belsize Park in North London and made an exclusive interview with her for readers of Plus. It was a few days before her 107th birthday.

Alice is currently the oldest Holocaust survivor and the second oldest Czech woman. Despite her age she welcomes several visitors each day into her flat who come to share her memories and life experiences. During my 40-minute stay she welcomed three more visitors from a young writer, visitor from Prague and another local lady who also survived her stay in a concentration camp. Till present day, Alice plays the piano for three hours a day and her flatmates say that living in the same block of flats as Alice means that they can listen to lovely piano recitals each day for free. Even passersby stop by Alice’s window and listen to her playing beautiful music. Alice loves to play Smetana and Dvořák, but her favourite is Beethoven. Alice assigns her longevity to optimism. Continue reading

An Extraordinary Man (2/2)

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Katerina Erlebachova, author of this story, is an expat living in Ireland. Even though the story is not related to the Czech culture, we believe it belongs on this site. It describes the world and people through the eyes of a Czech woman, who found inspiration while living abroad and meeting people that impact so many of us around the world.
We would like to thank you for the wonderful and inspirational story.

Liam´s present life

Living alone and independently in a small house in Galway, Liam regularly trains in the gym, does tai chi, goes swimming, and works with a large variety of therapeutic modalities. He flies regularly to London for chiropractic treatment. He is extremely disciplined in his diet which is mostly organic with a large percentage of those foods being raw and unprocessed. Continue reading

An Extraordinary Man (1/2)

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Katerina Erlebachova, author of this story, is an expat living in Ireland. Even though the story is not related to the Czech culture, we believe it belongs on this site. It describes the world and people through the eyes of a Czech woman, who found inspiration while living abroad and meeting people that impact so many of us around the world.
We would like to thank you for the wonderful and inspirational story.

Three years ago I was slowly walking alone down an ancient street in Galway, a city in the West of Ireland. I had a mood that people in the Czech Republic call ‘spleen’. A mood when the day feels grey and the mind wanders from nothing to nothing. My gaze drifted to the window of a health food shop and came across something inside that I couldn’t look away from. A very big guy leaning on crutches was laughing widely. I went inside for a moment to observe the situation. The man moved very slowly, then his body stopped shaking for a moment. I had to concentrate to hear what he was saying because his articulation was difficult to understand. When I realized what he was saying I was astonished. He was telling jokes, dallying with the salesgirls. I bought some healthy chocolate in the healthy shop. I went outside and ate it all up. It was irritating. Continue reading

Email interview: Jan Kavalír interviews Josef Čermák (E-mailový rozhovor: Jan Kavalír zpovídá Josefa Čermáka)

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Author: Josef Cermak ( PLUS)


Q.: When did you emigrate to Canada and why? Was it entirely for political reasons? And why Canada?

A. I left Czechoslovakia (on my knees, secretly, “over the hillocks”) with my blacksmith friend Lada Dufek on October 28, 1949 (we were selfishly counting on the police raging in Prague). ‘Our’ ship, ‘U.S.A.T. Le Roy Eltinge’ arrived in Canada (in Halifax) on April 23, 1949. That ship wasn’t completely ‘ours’ but we Czechoslovaks formed a formidable group: 113 people. Continue reading

From coal miner to largest Czech hotelier (Z horníka největším českým hoteliérem)

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Viliam Sivek“I’ve heard talks about having a bourgeois, or at best, a business origin,” says Viliam Sivek. “The truth is that during the first republic my grandfather was the director of the largest sugar refinery in Bohemia, but unfortunately I only remember that as a kid I only had one pair of pants and one pair of shorts. They were both versatile for everyday wear and festive occasions …”

Most people’s lives just pass through in predefined tracks, however, that was not the case with Viliam Sivek. His family saga is very interesting and would serve as enough material for a fairly extensive novel.

“My mother got married in Slovakia and actively participated in the fighting in the Slovak National Uprising. For example, when fighting by Strečno, she transferred prisoners to the ranks of the French partisans. She did so with 250 prisoners. Continue reading

Czech/Slovak Expatriates (5): Josef Skvorecky (Čeští/slovenští expati (5): Josef Škvorecký)

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Josef ŠkvoreckýAn article by Josef Cermak about Josef Skvorecky, a well-known Czech writer, publisher, and expatriate, who spent much of his life in Canada and celebrates his 85th birthday tomorrow.

I don’t think there are many Czechs unfamiliar with the name Josef Škvorecký, even though they may not know that he was born in Nachod on September 27, 1924. And almost everyone of them knows one or two of his books, books such as The Cowards (Zbabělci), The Miracle Game (Mirákl), The Tank Corps (Tankový prapor), The Engineer of Human Souls (Příběh inženýra lidských duší), or the book I love best, The Swell Season (Prima sezona). If the majority of Škvorecký’ s most popular books focuses on a society, split by ideology, at a time of revolutionary changes, his literary pallet is much richer. The Swell Season is a sensitive portrayal of the maturing process not only of Josef Škvorecký, but his whole generation. Continue reading