Music of the Czech Republic

The traditional music of the Czech Republic has been well-documented as a result of the work of composers like Leos Janacek, Antonin Dvorak and Bohuslav Martinu, who recorded and utilized national sounds in their compositions.

Undoubtedly the most internationally famous form of Czech folk music is Bohemian polka. Polka was 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. Modern Bohemian music is most innovative in Chodsko, where bagpipes are common. Moravian folk music is best-known for the cimbalom, which are played in ensembles that also include double bass, clarinet and violins. Moravian regions include foreign influences, especially Valachia and its Romanian history, and Lachia with Polish aspects.

Janacek made his recordings at an auspicious time. The 1880s saw the decline of traditional music. Janacek brough a Moravian string band to the 1895 National Czecho-Slavonic Ethnographical Exhibition in Prague, which led to increased feelings of national pride and identity, and a resurgence in traditional music.

Following the Communist takeover in 1948, Czech music was state-supported and sanitized into paeans of devotion to the ideals of socialism and the government. By 1964, however, the people were clamoring for more freedom of expression, partially inspired by that year's visit from American folk singer Pete Seeger. Two years later, the Porta Festival was formed as an outlet for these singer-songwriters, and soon became known as the "Czech Woodstock". Artists of this tradition include Minnesengri, Dagmar Andrtová and Skiffle Kontra.

Prague is known for its pub songs called staroprazske pisnieky, which are influenced by Viennese schrammelmusik and other sources. These songs are stilly played by popular bands like Slapeto. A more modernized urban folk music is called trampská hudba (tramp music) Trampská hudba has been popular since its invention in Czech cities, where poor rural immigrants lived early in the 20th century.

The 1960s saw American bluegrass music gain widespred popularity, and the first European bluegrass festival was held in 1972 (the Annual Banjo Jamboree in Kopidlno). Poutníci is the most influential Czech bluegrass band.

References

  • Plocek, Jiri. "East Meets West". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 49-57. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

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