Revering Famous Czechs

IMG_0939Our son-in-law has a favorite composer, and that would be Dvořák. His choice has much to do with the fact that he plays the cello. Dvořák’s melodies for low strings are especially lush and beautiful.

He thought we might want to visit the Dvořák museum until we read about it and decided against going into a building that houses mostly documents. Dvořák’s birth home was far away and not much of a reason to travel to it. We looked at various concerts available, but none seemed to be what we wanted.

Next best thing? Go pay a visit to the composer himself. He is conveniently buried in the old Vyšehrad Cemetery near the river. His grave is prominent with his bust being a work of art by Ladislav Saloun, the art-nouveau sculptor who created the Jan Hus monument in the Old Town Square.

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Also in the cemetery is Smetena’s grave. Later we learned that Alfonse Mucha was also there, but we missed him. Another reason to return to Prague.

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As we wandered through the beautiful setting, I noticed a very common name among the inhabitants – Rodina. I mentioned this to the kids, and they smiled and said, “Oh, that means Family.” I wondered if they knew that already, but, no, they had looked it up since they, too had noticed the number of times this name appeared. I told them they might want to name their first daughter Rodina. ; )

An interesting feature of most of the gravestones in this cemetery was the way the dates were engraved. The month and day looked like a fraction set between the first and last two numbers of the year.

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Last time we missed the Kafka Museum, and we all agreed we’d be up for a look-see. IMG_5725The first thing we noticed was that the fountain in the courtyard was being repaired, so we could not enjoy the full experience of the swiveling hips and peeing. The sculpture is entitled Streams. However, you can see what we missed at this youtube video.

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The museum itself is unlike any we’ve visited. First of all, it’s pretty dark inside, alluding, probably to Kafka and his work. As you wander, you hear a variety of sounds, from music to atmospheric and visually distorted presentations. Through various documents (all facsimiles) and photos, I learned some of his biography – he wrote in German though he lived in Prague since his family were German-speaking Jews. I did not know that he had been engaged to several women, but never married.

So, get ready book club in Claremont, we are going to choose some Kafka when we host book club next!

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