An illustrated talk by an Anglo-Czech artist
Jan Mladovsky presented his work in the context of contemporary visual art. He studied art at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague and then at the Slade School of Art, University College in London where he has been living since 1968. In addition to the famous Serpentine Gallery and Riverside Studios in London, he has exhibited at venues in Japan, Iceland, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and in his native Czechoslovakia.
Roughing it in Prague – a talk by Rob Humphreys
Rob’s introduction to things Czech and Slovak was through the children’s games his father (a lecturer in Czech and Russian at Leeds University) brought back from trips behind the Iron Curtain. He was asked in 1988 to write the Rough Guide to Czechoslovakia which was published in 1991 and then followed by the Rough Guide to Prague. Rob described the adventures, mishaps, strange encounters and surprises experienced during the writing of his guidebooks, as well as the changes brought about by the Velvet Revolution and the internet.
Daria Klimentova, prima ballerina – my life and work, an illustrated presentation
Surprising the world of ballet with her appointment as principal dancer with the Prague National Ballet Company at the early age of 18, Daria Klimentova went on to have a stunning international career, including 18 years as principal ballerina with English National Ballet. Since her retirement in 2014 she has devoted herself to the education of new generations of dancers, notably by founding and teaching the International Ballet Master classes at Prague’s Narodni divadlo. Her autobiography Daria Klimentova – Agony and Ecstasy – My Life in Dance was published in 2013.
The renegade count – a talk by Milan Kocourek about Count Franz/Frantisek von Luetzow
Diplomat and member of the Austrian parliament, Count Franz/Frantisek von Luetzow (1849-1916) was that rarity, a German-speaking Bohemian aristocrat whole-heartedly devoted to the Czech national cause. With a British mother, he wrote prolifically in English, attempting almost single-handedly to dispel anglophone ignorance about Bohemian history and the contemporary Czech scene. The talk covered some of Count von Luetzow’s endeavours in the years before 1914 as well as his wartime activities.
Slovakia’s post-communist economic transition
As guests of the Czech and Slovak Section of the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and to mark the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU, the held a public discussion with two leading players in Slovakia’s post-communist economic transition.
Vazil Hudak, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, former Slovak Minister of the Economy and the Slovak Presidency’s chief negotiator for the EU budget, Dr Michal Horvath of York University explored the essential ingredients of Slovakia’s success in making the transition – first to statehood, then EU and NATO membership, and most recently adoption of the Euro.
But there have been challenges too: a brain drain of talent to other EU countries, not least the City of London, where Slovaks are thriving in the financial services industry as well as in London’s start-up community; regional economic disparities such as those between Bratislava in the west and Kosice in the east; as well as corruption in public procurement and the situation of the Roma community.
The life and (hard) times of Emil Zatopek – an illustrated talk by Pat Butcher
With close to a score of world records and the hero of the 1952 Olympic Games, Emil Zatopek was the most successful athlete in Czech(oslovak) history, giving his compatriots many reasons to be proud and enthralling and entertaining the rest of the world. His later support for the Prague Spring led to his exclusion from public life and to work as a labourer in a uranium mine, though he was rehabilitated after 1989 and awarded high honours.The Mercurial Emil Zatopek is the latest book by Pat Butcher, one of Britain’s leading athletics writers. Going back to its subject’s time working for Baťa Zlin in the 1940s it draws on many sources, including interviews with Zatopek himself and his Olympic gold medallist wife Dana, with other contemporaries and with his record breaking successors.
The British response to the Slansky trial – new research from Southampton University
In 1952, one of the most notorious of Communist show trials took place in Czechoslovakia, when alleged members of “the anti-state conspiracy centred around Rudolf Slansky” including the hitherto all-powerful General Secretary himself, were accused of a “Trotskyite-Titoite-Zionist plot” and sentenced to death. Media interest was intense but reliable information not easy to obtain. The extent to which contemporary British understanding of the trials was accurate has been investigated by a group of postgraduate students at Southampton University. Themes touched on in their work included the trial’s anti-Semitic element, inner-party rivalry, the use of Slansky as a scapegoat for the country’s economic problems, the context of the Cold War and the other show trials of the late Stalin era. The student panel was introduced by Professor Mark Cornwall.
Shakespeare in Czech -a conversation with Professor Martin Hilsky and Susan Reynolds
Charles University Prague’s Professor Hilsky has translated Shakespeare’s entire output into Czech for which he has received numerous awards, including an honorary MBE. Following Susan’s review of the Bard’s reception in the Czech lands, Prof. Hilsky talked about the endless challenges posed by the richness and complexity of Shakespearean English.
The Czechoslovaks in WWI – rebels or loyalists? A panel discussion with Professor Mark Cornwall, Dr Claire Morelon and chaired by Dr Katya Kocourek
Two historians, Dr Claire Morelon (Oxford University) and Professor Mark Cornwall (Southampton University) brought their extensive archival experience to bear in shedding light on this subject which has received considerable attention in the academic press in recent years. Dr Morelon considered the ‘view from below’ with reference to to the food shortages in large towns and cities in the Bohemian Lands during the war. They came to symbolise a growing discontent with the Habsburg Monarchy which by 1918 translated into a general popular acceptance that the ‘state’ had ‘failed’ the Czechs. Professor Cornwall focussed on the 1916 trail of Karel Kramar, sentenced to 15 years hard labour along with Alois Rasin. Despite being granted political amnesty one year later, it solidified his reputation as a leading Czech nationalist.
My life and work – a talk by Professor Jan Marek, cardiologist
A lecturer at University College Hospital London and Charles University Prague, Professor Jan Marek specialises in paediatric and pre-natal cardiology. He has worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) since 2005 and collaborates with Prague’s Motol hospital where he used to work. Although a great grandson of Zdenek Nejedly, a communist minister of education, he experienced great difficulty when applying to study medicine in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents.