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Lesson Transcript

Martin: Hi everyone, I’m Martin.
Gabriella: And I’m Gabriella! Welcome back to CzechClass101.com! This is All About, Lesson 10 – Top 5 Things you Need to Know about Czech Pop Culture.
Martin: In this lesson, we’ll look at the top five pop culture topics in the Czech Republic.

Lesson focus

Gabriella: Sounds great. What are they?
Martin: Czech television, popular Czechs abroad, music, sports, and international pop culture.
Gabriella: All right. Let’s get started with popular TV in the Czech Republic.
Martin: Ok. The largest broadcaster in the Czech Republic is privately owned TV Nova, which has the highest number of viewers in the country. Established in 1994, it soon reached the largest market share in the Czech Republic. Since 2012, the number of viewers has been slightly higher than those of the public Czech TV, called Česká televize, thanks to Nova’s good strategic investments into programs, and launching new stations that complement each other. Nowadays, Nova can also be watched in high definition via satellite or cable TV.
Gabriella: What about other broadcasters or non-Czech TV?
Martin: The second largest TV broadcaster is the public television station Česká televize, with four main programs ČT1, ČT2, the ČT24 news channel and ČT sport. This station primarily broadcasts Czech movies, news and family films on its ČT1 channel, whilst ČT2 provides documentaries, daily news and culturally relevant programs. Original English version programs or films are mostly subtitled or dubbed.
Gabriella: In the Czech republic, satellite or cable TV services are provided by a company called UPC, and most households in the Czech Republic have access to them. Broadcasting programs are mainly in Czech or German, but it is also possible to watch international programs in English, such as Animal Planet, BBC Prime, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery, Eurosport, MTV, VH1 and National Geographic. So Martin, what are popular TV programs? What do Czech people like to watch?
Martin: In the past, it was the trend to watch international programs or their Czech remakes that were brought as a novelty into the Czech TV market. TV shows such as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ or ‘CSI Miami’ are, however, no longer in demand. Currently the most popular programs are domestically produced series, films, children’s fairy tales, and dramas. These days people give priority to watching good old Czech movies, trusted faces, and favourite Czech actors.
Gabriella: Interesting. So Czech people are going back to their original entertainment.
Martin: Yes. This phenomenon is not only seen in TV, but in other things too.
Gabriella: All right, let’s continue with our next topic – popular Czech people abroad. When it comes to international achievements, Czech people are most successful in classical music and literature.
Martin: The most notable people were the Czech composer of classical music Bedřich Smetana, who lived between 1824 – 1884, and Antonín Dvořák, who lived between 1841-1904.
Gabriella: Smetana is said to be the father of Czech music thanks to his development of a new musical style that is considered a reflection of his country longing for freedom.
Martin: Yes, outside the Czech Republic, he has been most famous for his works, including the opera ‘’The Bartered Bride’’, the symphonic cycle ‘’My Fatherland’’, which portrays the history, legends and landscape of his native land, and ‘’First String Quartet’’ from his work ‘’My Life’’.
Gabriella: Dvořák also lived in the United States, didn’t he?
Martin: Yes, in 1892 he became director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. His most recognisable works are ‘’Symphony No. 7’’ (written for London), ‘’New World Symphony’’, the "American" String Quartet’’ and the opera ‘’Rusalka’’.
Gabriella: Great. What about the literature then?
Martin: A recent nominee for the Nobel Prize in literature was the most famous Czech writer Milan Kundera, who was born and educated in the Czech Republic, but now lives and writes in France. He took French citizenship in 1981 by naturalisation and regards himself as French. His most recognisable works translated into other languages are ‘’The Book of Laughter and Forgetting’’ from 1979 and ‘’The Unbearable Lightness of Being’’ which was also made into a movie.
Gabriella: I see, speaking of movies, are there any famous Czech film directors?
Martin: Yes. Miloš Forman is the most well-known director and screenwriter abroad. He won an Academy Award for Best Director, and all five major Academy Awards - Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay - for his movies “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” and “Amadeus”. Another very famous work from his time in the US is “The People vs. Larry Flynt”.
Gabriella: I think some of listeners may have already seen his films!
Martin: I’m sure, but not everybody knows Forman is a Czech national, because he worked in America for so long.
Gabriella: That’s right. Now let’s not forget sport. Let’s mention some Czech sportspeople.
Martin: All right. The Czech Republic has produced some outstanding hockey and tennis players. As for hockey, people may know Jaromír Jágr who played for NHL teams in the USA and Canada, and also goalkeeper Dominik Hašek whose efforts brought Olympic Gold to the Czech team in Nagano. In terms of Czech tennis, the most recognisable player is Martina Navrátilová. She has been the most successful player, winning 164 titles in total from various international tournaments, including nine wins at Wimbledon.
Gabriella: Great, so what’s our next topic, Martin?
Martin: Popular music in the Czech Republic.
Gabriella: This is an interesting topic. Are pop and rock popular among Czechs?
Martin: Yes, they are, especially because certain music genres were either previously suppressed or forbidden by the Nazi or communist regime. Since then, music like rock, hardcore, alternative music, folk and country especially have flourished.
Gabriella: Czech people like to make their own music and many new bands have appeared on the scene, performing live in local rock clubs, or at open-air festivals. It must have been very difficult to obtain music from abroad during the communist era.
Martin: It was. For example, Dance and Electronic music has a special position in the Czech Republic. It was nearly impossible to import any instruments that are needed to create dance music, but after opening the borders, there was a massive boom of dance music in the country. Drum and bass was one of the first most popular genres.
Gabriella: It is still very fashionable to go to dance parties and nightclubs, and there are many options for dance music fans to choose from. These days going back to the ‘retro’ style has been one of the latest techno music phenomenons. But Martin, was there any unrestricted music at all, that was free to express what it wanted to?
Martin: Yes, jazz was free from any political influence and that’s why it has been progressing nicely since the 50s. Nowadays, there are countless numbers of jazz bands and jazz clubs to choose from, especially in Prague. There is an International Jazz Festival held annually in Prague. Artists who participate in this festival play traditional as well as contemporary jazz music.
Gabriella: Jazz has been very popular among the younger generation too, and if you stroll across Prague in the summer you can see young jazz bands playing at many places outside, and very often on the famous Charles Bridge too. So are there any new trends now in music, Martin?
Martin: From the newer genres, I would say hip-hop music has been one of the fastest growing since the Velvet Revolution, because it is relevant for many young people. The greatest influence on the further development of hip-hop in the Czech Republic has been a 3-day long festival held since 2001 that has devoted solely to this genre. There is a large community of hip-hop fans, whose lifestyles have been closely connected with snowboarding and skateboarding, the “cool” sports!
Gabriella: Really? So you can go snowboardin in the Czech Republic?
Martin: Yes! There are some high mountains in the Czech Republic, and snowboarding has become very popular not just among the younger generation, but right across the middle-aged generations too.
Gabriella: And popular sports in the Czech Republic is also our next topic. What are they, Martin?
Martin: You know, sport has always been one of the most popular pastimes for Czechs. We are lucky enough to have good weather conditions for both summer and winter sports. So Czech people like to spend their winter holidays skiing, and their summer holidays swimming, diving and cycling. Recently, extreme sports like rock climbing and paragliding have also become increasingly popular.
Gabriella: Now, you’ve already mentioned ice hockey as one of the number one sports.
Martin: That’s right, ice hockey and also football are some of the most popular team sports. Actually, Czech people tend to be very patriotic when it comes to international matches with big rivals, such as Germany, Russia, Canada or Sweden. The Czech ice hockey team is top 5 in the world.
Gabriella: Their achievements include winning their first Olympic Gold medal in Nagano in 1998, and the latest gold medal in 2010 in the Men’s World Ice Hockey Championship. In football, the Czech Football Association, with its best team Sparta, has been very successful at home, as well as in European contests. So what are the most-watched sport events?
Martin: Definitely the Ice Hockey World Championship and Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament. As for football, it is the European Football Championship and Football World Cup. Most people watch them on TV, and the most loyal fans travel to support their favorite team in person.
Gabriella: How about sports besides ice hockey and football?
Martin: In recent years, the Czech Republic has had some outstanding results in skiing and tennis competitions. Šárka Záhrobská won gold in the World Championships in slalom skiing in 2007, and tennis player Petra Kvitová won the 2011 Wimbledon Championship. Besides that, Czechs also compete in sports such as shooting, canoeing, basketball, volleyball, handball, squash, and kickball.
Gabriella: Alright. And now we are getting to the last topic of this lesson – International pop culture.
Martin: Well, since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Czechs have always been up-to-date on international pop culture, thanks to their interest in arts and music and thanks to the open market.
Gabriella: Over the last 26 years, popular international music has been streamed by Czech radio stations or live concerts shown on TV, following mainly top US and UK music charts. International artists ranging from pop to rock, funk to alternative, have performed live many times in Prague Arena.
Gabriella: Annual international music festivals are also held in Prague and other larger cities.
Martin: That’s right. Two examples are the International Jazz Festival held in Prague, and the multi-genre International Music Festival in Český Krumlov. Performers include world famous international and Czech artists, plus a few new faces.
Gabriella: And finally, speaking of international TV programs, they are available on Czech TV through cable or satellite, and they are especially sought after by English-speaking expats living in the Czech Republic, or other people who like to watch and tune in to programs in their original English version.
Martin: It’s true. Well listeners, that’s it for our Top 5 pop culture topics.
Gabriella: Yeah, and we hope you had fun learning about Czech culture with this lesson!
Martin: We’ll see you again in our next lesson – Top 5 Most Useful Tools for Learning Czech.


Gabriella: Thank you for listening everyone. We’ll catch you in the next lesson!
Martin: Ahoj!