Czech Republic Economy and Culture
The country’s rail and road networks are well developed as they are located at the center of the international lines connecting with Hungary, Vienna, Berlin and Moscow. Air transport focuses on Prague-Ruzyně, Brno and České Budějovice airports. The flag carrier is Czech Airlines. According to computergees, since 1992, the Czech Republic has joined, together with Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the CEFTA (Central Europe Free Trade Area), an agreement for the free movement of people and goods between these countries. To align its economic development with Western standards, the Czech Republic depends heavily on foreign capital.Moreover, despite the wealth and diversification of mineral resources, the Czech Republic is characterized above all as a country that imports raw materials to export manufactured goods: machinery and vehicles., plastics, tires and footwear, electrical and electronic equipment, minerals and fuels, televisions and glass. The main trading partners are Germany, Slovakia and the EU countries. The Czech National Bank acts as a central bank, the remaining credit institutions (36 in 2003) depend on foreign capital. The voice of tourism is particularly important. Since the 1990s, Prague has become one of the most popular destinations for European tourists. The central government itself is trying to make a natural and artistic heritage of great value known internationally.
The first musical testimonies in Bohemia date back to the end of the century. X approx. and concern the liturgical chant, in which, since that period, the Czech coexisted with the Latin, as well as later also in the liturgical dramas, of considerable interest, of the century. XII. Prague was already an important musical center at that time and it remained so in the 10th century. XIII-XIV, welcoming famous Minnesänger and the most significant representative of the French Ars nova, G. de Machault. A turning point in the musical life of the country was marked by the Hussite movement, which led to the creation of numerous songs and religious hymns in the Czech language, of popular intonation, stimulating a similar flowering with the effectiveness of this production (which lasted until the eighteenth century). in the Catholic and Lutheran fields. In the second half of the sixteenth century Czech polyphony developed, also under the influence of musicians such as de Monte, J. Handl, Luyton, who resided in Prague at the court of Rudolf II. The first notable Czech composer, Adam Michna from Otradovice, emerged in the 9th century. XVII, during which there was a development of instrumental music, with a notable center in Kromeríž in Moravia. Towards the end of the seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth century, the emigration of the major Czech musicians to France, Italy and above all to Austria and Germany took place; in the musical civilization of central Europe the contribution of Czech composers was very significant, exerting a great influence on the formation of classicism and in particular of Mozart (and after him of Schubert). We recall, among the many composers of this era, HIF von Biber (1644-1704), founder of the German violin school; BM Černohorský (1684-1742), in whose production, influenced by the Italian school, organ music had considerable importance; the organist J. Seger (1716-1782), who was a pupil of Černohorský, and the organist FX Brixi (1732-1771), who together with the Benda family (active mainly in Germany) and the other Czech composers who formed the Mannheim school, especially JV Stamitz (1717-1757) and FX Richter(1709-1789), affirmed the taste for a language of great melodic fluency, of a cantability linked to popular song, played on the luminous balance of sound weights, on a discursive plot, almost of conversation, and on a marked sensitivity for color instrumental. The emigration of Czech musicians, which also brought FX Dušek (1731-1799) and his pupil LA Koželuh (1747-1818) to Austria and Germany, pushed J. Mysliveček (1737-1781), called Venatorini, to Italy. established himself as an opera player, in France the harpist JB Krumpholtz (1742-1790) and A. Reicha (1770-1836). We should also remember JL Dussek (1760-1812), acclaimed pianist and author of significant music for his instrument. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, emigration stopped and no great figures emerged until the middle of the last century: however, worthy of note is F. Škroup (1801-1862), author of the first theatrical work on an original Czech libretto. The Czech national school reached its moment of maximum splendor with B. Smetana (1824-1884), A. Dvořák (1841-1904) and L. Janáček (1854-1928). The acquisition of popular song, which in Smetana and Dvořák was grafted onto a language closely linked to that of German romanticism, became the essential component of the style in Janáček. Dvořák’s pupils were J. Suk (1874-1935) and V. Novák (1870-1949); among the musicians of the twentieth century stand out A. Hába (1893-1972), bold and isolated experimenter of new linguistic possibilities, E. Suchon (b. 1908) and the eclectic B. Martinu (1890-1959). Among the composers of subsequent generations (who, alongside Bartók’s lesson, welcome the experiences of the European avant-gardes) are to be mentioned Z. Vostrák (b. 1920), M. Kopelent (b. 1932), L. Kuprovic (b. 1936)).
The origins of the Czech theater can be traced in the rites and ceremonies of the Slavic tribes who settled in Bohemia and Moravia after the century. V: in elements that later merged into the medieval religious theater, which flourished in the century. XIII and XIV and enriched, in the sacred theme, generally in Latin, by realistic and satirical motifs in the vernacular. The development of the Czech theater, now well underway, was blocked in the century. XV from the Hussite revolution and resumed only in the sixteenth century, in the forms of the learned theater, largely in Latin, with biblical dramas, historical dramas and with interludes or comic interludes. A thriving Jesuit theater was then established, in Czech, and professional companies acting in German. After the defeat of the White Mountain (1620) only the Jesuits and foreign companies remained, while the Czech theater expressed itself in the sacred representations of the villages, rich in satirical elements and social protest and referable to an important tradition of popular theater, continued also in the sec. XVIII and still alive, with many works preserved in the repertoire. The first regular theaters at the beginning of the eighteenth century were still reserved for foreign companies; it was not until 1783 that Czech actors began to play occasionally on the stage of the Nostic Theater in Prague. The theater then became one of the instruments for affirming national dignity through peasant or petty-bourgeois dramas and also through puppet shows. An autonomous hall was established in Prague in 1862; in 1881 the Národní divadlo (National Theater) was inaugurated, rebuilt in 1883 after a fire. During the romantic age the theater flourished thanks to VK Klicpera and JK Tyl. In the following years, theatrical production and activity followed, often in very advanced positions, the evolution of the contemporary scene, with results of particular importance in the years between the two wars (when directors such as Burian and Frejka absorbed and carried on the lessons of the Russian and French avant-gardes) and in the 1960s, which, with the disappearance of Stalin’s dogmatic oppression and with the gradual maturation and rapid flowering of the “Prague Spring”, were theatrically years of daring experiments and notable innovations, which have had a huge echo also abroad (we mention, among others, the directors A. Radok, O. Krejca, J. Grossmann and the set designer J. Svoboda). This situation was however interrupted by the military occupation of 1968 and the consequent process of “normalization”, which was also imposed on the theater for twenty years. In the seventies only Svoboda was able to continue the work at home, while most of the Czech playwrights were forced to leave the country. J. Hilbert, J. Mahen, F. Langer, J. Voskovec and J. Werich, as well as K. Čapek and his brother Josef, contributed most to the development of Czech theater in our century. Among the most original Czech playwrights of the twentieth century are considered M. Kundera, V. Havel, J. Topol, P. Kohout and V. Blažek. The awakening of Czech culture following the democratic turn of 1989 also saw theater as a protagonist, finally freed from the regime’s censures. The democratic turn has also produced a content revolution. The recurrent desecration of the regime’s bureaucratic machine gave way to the often painful reflection on the isolation and alienation of the individual. In the early nineties some Czech texts found considerable diffusion on the international scene, in particular the work The Makropulos Affair (1922) by K. Capek.
Until 1993, film production was strongly characterized as Czechoslovakian. After the dissolution of the Federation, Czech cinema immediately imposed itself on the international limelight, especially with the works of M. Forman (already winner of the Academy Awards in 1975 and 1984 respectively with Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest and Amadeus) among the such as Larry Flint-Beyond the scandal (1996), Man on the moon (1999) and with those of J. Jires (The dance teacher, 1994; Dvojrole, 1999). In 1997 Kolja by Jan Svěrák was awarded the title of Best Film at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards.