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Music in the Czech Republic has roots both in high-culture opera and symphony and in the traditional music of Bohemia and Moravia. Cross-pollination and diversity are important aspects of Czech music: Composers were often influenced by traditional music; jazz and bluegrass music have become popular; pop music often consisted of English language hits sung in Czech.

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Traditional and Classical

The traditional music of the Czech Republic has been well documented and influenced the work of composers like Leoš Janáček, Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, and Bohuslav Martinů. Janáček made his recordings at an auspicious time. The 1880s saw the decline of traditional music. Janáček brought a Moravian string band to the 1895 Ethnographical Exhibition in Prague, which led to increased feelings of national pride and identity, and a resurgence in traditional music.

Undoubtedly the most internationally famous dance is Bohemian polka. Polka is a dance in duple time that became popular across Europe in the 19th century and spread across the world, influencing music from Mexico to Japan. Perhaps the most famous example is Škoda lásky (1927), from which the melody (but not the lyrics) of the Beer Barrel Polka are derived.

Bohemian traditional music is most innovative in Chodsko, where bagpipes are common. Moravian traditional music is best-known for the cimbalom, which is played in ensembles that also include double bass, clarinet and violins. The traditional music of the regions of Moravia displays foreign influences, especially in Valachia with its Romanian history and Lachia with its Polish aspects.

Prague was well known for its pub songs called Staropražské písničky (Old Prague Songs), which are influenced by Viennese schrammelmusik and other forms. These songs are still played by bands like Šlapeto. A more modernized urban music is called tramp music (trampská hudba). Tramp music has been popular since its invention as part of the Czech tramping movement that began when early 20th-century Czech city-dwellers began seeking physical and imaginative respite from the pressures of urban life.

Bohemian Forest's music

Music in the Bohemian Forest has existed for many centuries. Long time ago, music was linked with many different activities people used to do there. Since Middle Ages, people would sing during services, so it has been especially the Bohemian Forest’s church places where music was practiced. The First music memories found in this area come from the monastery of Cistercians in Vyšší Brod. This monastery was founded in 1259. Documents proving the creating of music in this area were found in its significant library. One of the most important document is Vyšebrodský rukopis č. 42, from 1410. We can find here a Czech folk song called Jesu Kriste, ščedrý kněže, people would sing during preaching of famous Jan Hus.

Since development of towns in 15th century, music has started to play an important role in two Bohemian Forest’s centers Prachatice and Sušice. From this region we know a man called Václav z Prachatic, who dealt with the theory of music at the Charles University in Prague. There is his manuscript called Musica magistry Johannis de Muris accurtata de musica Boethii In the universitian library. This manuscript is a collective work on the theory of music and it is inspired by thoughts of Johan de Muris, who worked in Paris.

Extensive musical activities in Prachatice took place in the 2nd half of the 16th century, the century of Renaissance. There was a significant bloom of temple’s music in the temple of saint James. As a new form of music books are the hymn books. New organ was built in Prachatice in the second half of the 16th centrury. The most famous musical period in Prachatice was the period of literátské brotherhood. Their main focus was community singing and they would perform it during ceremonial services. The brotherhood had its memorial book established in 1575, which described its activities until 1949, when the brotherhood perished. Kryštof Harant z Polžic a Bezdružic was born in 1564 in the north western part of the Bohemian Forest on the castle Klenová near Nýrsko. He was an aristocrat, traveler, writer, politician, and the most famous harmonist in the era before the battle na Bílé hoře. He was imprisoned after this battle because of his participation in corporative uprising and on 21st of June in 1621 beheaded in the Staroměstské square in Prag. The restoration of the catholic order in Bohemia affected the Bohemian Forest as well. Catholic priests used to performed Gregorian chorals, but people used to sing spiritual song often based on the Protestant tradition. This ended in a new catholic edition of hymn books such as Capella regia musicallis and others.

The Czech classicism period is also available in Prachatice. There can be found works by František Xaver Brixi, Jan Křtitel Vaňhal, Augustin Šenkýř. From 18th and 19th century authors are there Vincenc Mašek, Jan Jakub Ryba,Jan August Vitásek. In the 19th century also a German and Austrian production had its place here. The Czech work dominated in Sušice and Kašperské Hory.In the 19th century, period of romanticism, the Bohemian Forest got a new format regarding Czech music. The founder of the Czech national music Bedřich Smetana was inspired by the Bohemian Forest while creating his symphonic poem Vltava. Antonín Dvořák was also inspired by the Bohemian Forest in his piece called Klid pro violoncello a orchestr.

The Bohemian Forest has always had its special part in the lives of Czechs. Vltava springs here, beautiful lakes glitter and wildwoods sing their mysterious songs. It is no wonder that the Bohemian Forest has inspired many generations before us and we can only be pleased of its future treasures.

Early Music Groups

Ars Rediviva was the first Czech chamber ensemble that specialized systematically in performance of Baroque music respecting historically informed practice. It was established in 1951 by flutist and musical scientist Milan Munclinger.

Pop Music

English-speaking visitors listening to Czech radio are surprised at the prevalence of familiar tunes, but with lyrics sung in Czech. These imported pop standards aside, rock and roll has taken over, often with influences and instrumentations taken from more traditional Czech styles.

Lately, the Czech Republic has been a breeding ground for punk, punk rock and metal bands, some of which include brutal death, goregrind, black and similar styles of extreme metal.

The 1960s saw American bluegrass music gain wide popularity, and the first European festival was held in 1972 (the Annual Banjo Jamboree in Kopidlno). In 1964 and 1982, Pete Seeger toured the country, inspiring generations of Czech bluegrass and American-style folk musicians. Notable is the band Poutníci, whose early success helped perpetuate bluegrass music in the Czech Republic. Many former members of that band have recorded or toured with the band Druhá Tráva, which has brought Czech bluegrass to the modern world music stage.

Military Bands

Czech Republic Army Central Music, Military band Olomouc and other military bands are part of the Czech Armed Forces

Pop & Pop Rock & Songwriter

Pop

Indies

Pop Rock

Songwriter

Funk

Rock & Metal & Punk

Rock

Punk Rock

Underground

Avantgarde

  • Autopsia
  • Irena Havlová & Vojtěch Havel

Alternative

Alternative

Electro

  • Skyline
  • Le Pneumatiq

Jazz & Blues

See also Jazz in dissident Czechoslovakia

SKA & Reggae & Rap & R'n'B

SKA

Reggae

  • Švihadlo
  • United Flavour

Rap

R'n'B

  • Sámer Issa

World Music

Traditional

Bluegrass

References

  • Download recording - "Tece voda, tece" Czech tune from the Library of Congress' Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections; performed by Michael and Elizabeth Prácher on August 28, 1939 in Masaryktown, Florida
  • Plocek, Jiří (2000). "East Meets West". in Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.). World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. London: Rough Guides. pp. 49–57. ISBN 1-85828-636-0.  

Kolektiv autorů: Šumava příroda-historie-život, nakladatelství Miloš Uhlíř - Baset, Vydání první,2003

Bužga J.,Kouba J.,Mikanová,E.,Volek T. 1969:Průvodce po pramenech k dějinám hudby. Fondy a sbírky uložené v Čechách.Praha

Jiránek J.,Lébl V.1972,1981: Dějiny české hudební kultury 1890/1945.1.díl 1890/1918, 2.díl 1918-1945.Praha.

Lébl V.a Kol.1989: Hudba v českých dějinách.Od středověku do nové doby.Praha.

Pohanka J. 1958: Dějiny české hudby v příkladech.Praha.

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