Czech the News

Volume VIII
No. 4
April 2000




Secretary of State Albright Visits Czech Republic

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to the Czech Republic on March 5-8 took place at the time of the 150th
anniversary of the birth of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. But as Dr. Albright remarked, she
would have ample reason to visit at this time even if she were not of Czech origin. For one, it was almost exactly a year since
the Czech Republic became member of NATO, elevating the Czech?American partnership to a wholly new plane. And the
Secretary's talks with Czech representatives focused on a host of bilateral and international issues as well.

Paying Hommage to Masaryk

The Secretary's presence added luster to the Masaryk celebrations held at several Czech cities. Accompanied by President
Havel, she traveled to Masaryk's birthplace, Hodonin, where she visited Masaryk's museum and laid flowers to Masaryk's
statue there, greet by enthusiastic crowds and a Czech Army marching band playing Stars and Stripes. She visited also the
Presidential castle at Lany, the first president's favored place of residence. There she also presented President Havel with
Masaryk's death mask and hand; these artifacts were kept at the U.S. Embassy during the Communist era. In Prague Dr.
Albright attended the unveiling of Masaryk's statue in front of the Prague Castle, not far from the house where her family used
to live. She then joined Czech political leaders and other guests at the commemorative assembly at the Vladislav Hall of the
Prague Castle.

Albright Opens Legal Information Center

During her visit to the Supreme Court in Brno, Secretary Albright opened the International Legal Information Center at the
Czech Supreme Court, supported by the U.S. Government in cooperation with the American Bar Association. The Institute will
house a judicial training center, a facility for intensive graduate-level lawyer training, and a regional conference center.
Ultimately, the Institute will serve as both a center for research on democratization and state-of-the-art distance learning center,
providing lawyers and judges in remote areas access to Institute programs.

Focus on the Balkans

Masarykian themes resonated also in the Secretary's speech at the Bohemiae Foundation devoted to democratic change in the
Balkans. She discussed the task of building a Europe that is whole and free -- a concept propounded by Masaryk. "The
United States wants a Europe that is united and strong, where democratic practices are deeply rooted and wars simply do not
happen," she said. "Now, more than ever, that kind of Europe exists" except for the "missing piece" in the southeast corner.
"The fires of intolerance...will not be extinguished until a democratic government has replaced the current regime in Belgrade,"
Secretary said. The United States and its European partners are under "no illusions" about the difficulty of stabilizing,
transforming and integrating the countries of Southeast Europe. "This won't happen unless the international community follows
through on commitments to help. And unless those in the region make the hard choices required to create societies based on
freedom and law. Whether that opportunity will be squandered or seized" depends on the commitment and solidarity of
democratic countries, Secretary Albright concluded. She also discussed the Balkans situation with the representatives of the
non-governmental sector at a meeting at the Radio Free Europe headquarters in Prague.

Strong Bilateral Relation

On a more practical level, Secretary Albright held talks with President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Foreign
Minister Jan Kavan, Chairperson of the Senate of the Czech Parliament Libuse Benesova, and other representatives. In their
talks they focused on the situations in Kosovo and in the Balkans in general. Czech military contingents are part of KFOR in
Kosovo, as well as SFOR in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Czech police officers and civil officials are also present in Kosovo.
In discussing the non-proliferation issues, Secretary Albright appreciated the resolve of the Czech government to prevent a
contract for the Iranian nuclear power facility in Bushehr. The Lower House of the Parliament has already acted on the
measure, which is expected to pass soon. Secretary Albright acknowledged it was a difficult decision, and pledged American
help in securing more investment for the Czech Republic. U.S. Ambassador in Prague John Shattuck will lead a delegation of
Czech entrepreneurs to the U.S. later this year.

Secretary Albright also indicated that an FBI office will be opened in Prague. At the behest of Czech officials, the office will
cooperate with Czech law enforcement agencies in combating transnational crime and money laundering.
The visit also attracted attention because of the speculations that the Secretary's next career step could be the position of the
Czech president. Addressing these rumors, Dr. Albright declared unequivocally that, while flattered by the interest, she is not
seeking that position. "My heart is in two places, but America is where I belong," said she.


Following are the remarks remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at the ceremony unveiling the Tomas
Masaryk statue at the Prague Castle on March 7. Note: Secretary Albright delivered her remarks in Czech.

It is especially moving to see this likeness of the living Masaryk so near to the Castle, where he served as President. And -- on
a personal note -- so near to my family's former home, where I was born and where I played as a child.

For me, like the more experienced among you, the memories are strong. I was only four months old when President Masaryk
died, but in every other sense I grew up with him.

My father worked for his son. My family talked about him often. I would look at his picture and think to myself, "this is how a
President should look." I would study his writings, and think "this is how a President should inspire." I would research his
actions and think, "this is how a President should lead."

What an example he set! He was a teacher who never stopped learning; a philosopher who never stopped doing; a lover of
peace who never backed away from a fight; and a pragmatist who never stopped believing that the future could be made better
than the past.

Among his many accomplishments, President Masaryk forged an unshakable bond across the sea. In 1918, he brought
America and the Czech and Slovak peoples together in support of the right of individuals and nations everywhere to live freely
and without fear.

Today, I am proud to say on behalf of America that our two nations are cooperating as never before in support of that same
right. And I am confident that our friendship will flourish for generations to come. It's great to work with someone as wonderful
as President Havel.

Czechs Confident About Their EU Aspirations

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan expressed optimism that Prague is beginning to catch up on the road to membership in the
European Union. After several years, the country now appears to be back on track for accession in 2003, the earliest possible
date for EU expansion.

The country started out as a front-runner, and in the early 1990s many believed the finishing line was practically in sight.  In
1998, Prague formally opened accession talks with the European Union, but by then the country seemed to have fallen by the
wayside.  Annual progress reports issued by Brussels in October 1998 and 1999 warned of a 'worrying' slowdown towards
accession.  But there are signs now that the Czechs are finally catching up.

The EU's Enlargement Commissioner Gunther Verheugen said recently that Prague had made "remarkable" progress over the
past six months in accelerating its membership preparations. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said on March 20 he is
cautiously optimistic that this autumn's evaluation will be better. Mr. Kavan said he believes all changes in Czech legislation
required by the EU will be approved in Parliament by the end of June, and a "European Union Day" will be held in 11 cities
across the country to promote and explain EU membership. After two years of lagging behind, the Czechs now seem to be
sprinting in front again.

Zeman Reshuffles Cabinet

Prime Minister Milos Zeman announced the changes in his cabinet that were anticipated after the agreement with the opposition
ODS party that cleared the way for the adoption of the state budget. All the new ministers are members of Mr. Zeman’s Social
Democratic Party.

Minister without portfolio Jaroslav Basta was replaced by Karel Brezina, whom President Havel appointed on March 23. Mr.
Brezina, 27, head of the Office of the Government, is the youngest Minister in the Czech Government. Unlike his predecessor,
he will not be responsible for intelligence services, which will now be supervised by the Prime Minister. He will be in charge of
Czech drug policy, family- and youth-related issues and care for handicapped people. One of his foremost priorities is the
establishment of an effective state information system.

Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich announced that he will resign on April 4. He will be replaced by Stanislav Gross, 31, currently
Vice Chairman of the Lower House of Parliament and a rising young star of the Social Democratic Party. Petr Lachnit, 50,
Deputy Mayor of the city of Ostrava, will replace the current Minister for Regional Development Jaromir Cisar, who is also
responsible for housing policy. The job of Minister of Transportation Antonin Peltram will be taken over by Jaromir Schling,
53, an economist and member of Parliament.

Jewish Burial Site Preserved

At a press conference on March 30, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kavan and Minister of Culture
Pavel Dostal announced that a feasible solution has been found for the preservation of the former Jewish burial site on
Vladislavova street in Prague’s historic Nove Mesto neighborhood. Remnants of a 750-year old cemetery were discovered
two years ago at the construction site of a new administrative building of Ceska Pojistovna insurance company. According to
the agreement reached by Ceska Pojistovna, the Prague Jewish community and the Czech government, the remains are to be
surrounded by concrete covering an area about 120 feet in length, 30 feet wide and 3 feet high. Construction work that was
halted several months ago will be permitted to continue around the site, which forms part of a cemetery relinquished by the local
Jewish community in the late 15th century. Given the possibility that the burial site is part of a larger cemetery, a large area
around the new building will be declared a national heritage site, which will block any further construction in the vicinity. The
government will pay up to $1.2 million toward the cost of modifying the building project.

On this occasion, guests of the Prague Jewish Community Rabbi Edgar Gluck, representative of the U.S. Commission for the
Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and Rabbi Menachem Eckstein, special representative of the Chief Ashkenazi
Rabbi Lau, expressed their appreciation to the Government of the Czech Republic, the insurance company’s management and
the Prague Jewish Community. Both guests pointed out that the case is a good example of mutual understanding and willingness
to seek a constructive solution to this complex issue.

U.S. Ambassador John Shattuck also praised the decision, adding that it shows the Czech Republic's "commitment to preserve
and protect its past, its cultural heritage, not only for the benefit of one group or another but for every citizen of this nation."

Summer opportunities for Learning Czech

As per tradition, a number of opportunities exist to study the Czech language in the Czech Republic during the summer months
this year.  Perhaps the most well-known of these courses are the Czech Summer Courses for Foreigners, organized by the
Institute of Linguistic and Professional Training of Charles University in Prague.  This year's courses will run from July
10-August 4, 2000; they are offered for students at all levels, from complete beginners to advanced.  For more information,
please refer to the web site of Charles University, at, or contact:  Univerzita Karlova, Ustav jazykove a
odborne pripravy, Vratislavova 10, 128 00 Praha 2, Czech Republic, tel. (420-2) 2499-0417 or 2499-0412, fax. (420-2)
2499-0440, email:

Another option is the Summer Prague University, run by the Student Council of the Philosophical Faculty of Charles
University.  There are two terms for the courses:  July 3 - July 28 and July 31 - August 25.  Again, courses will be taught for
students at all levels.  For more detailed information, check out the web site at, or contact:
SF Servis, s.r.o., nam. J. Palacha 2, 116 38 Praha 1, Czech Republic, tel/fax: (420-2) 2161-9297.

For language study outside of Prague, courses are taught at a number of other Czech institutions, most notably at Masaryk
University in Brno and Palacky University in Olomouc.  For the program in Brno, contact Eva Rusinova at: Kabinet cestiny pro
cizince, Filozoficka fakulta Masarykovy univerzity, Arne Novaka 1, 660 88 Brno, Czech Republic, tel. (420-5) 4112-1130,
fax. (420-5) 4112-1406, internet:  Finally, this year's Summer School of Slavonic Languages, offered at the
Philosophical Faculty of Olomouc's Palacky University, will take place from July 24 - August 18.  For more information,
contact: Milada Hirschova at:  LSSS FFUP, Krizkovskeho 10, 771 80 Olomouc, tel. (420-68) 563-3172 or fax. (420-68)
522-9162.  The web site is:

For a completely different type of study, the U.S.-based Fund for American Studies will hold its American Institute on Political
and Economic Systems from July 7 - 30, 2000 in Prague.  AIPES brings emerging leaders from universities throughout Central
and Eastern Europe to Prague to study important political and economic concepts.  Using the American experience as a starting
point, the participants examine several models for organizing their economies and governing their societies and are encouraged
to apply these concepts to the transitions already underway in their home countries.  Interested students can refer to the web
site,, or contact:  The Fund for American Studies, 1706 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC,
20009, tel. (202) 986-0384, fax. (202) 986-8930.

Financial Contribution to WW II Veterans

On March 1, 2000 a new Law on Financial Contribution for Czech Citizens Serving in the Czech and Allied Armed
Forces from 1939 - 1945 entered into force. The main objective of the new law is to appreciate those Czech citizens who
took direct part in the fight for liberation of the Czech Republic during WW II.

According to the law, persons entitled to receive financial contribution are those Czech citizens who served in the Czech and
allied armed forces, as well as surviving spouses. Such persons are entitled to receive 120,000 CZK for the first year and
1,000 CZK for every additional year of military service. Surviving spouses are entitled to half of the said contribution. The
Czech authority  responsible for implementation of the new law is Ceska sprava socialniho zabezpeceni, at the following

Ceska sprava socialniho zabezpeceni
davkovy odbor
Krizova 25
150 00 Praha 5
phone: +420/2/5706 1111

AFoCR to Honor Albright at NY Gala

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright will receive the American Cfriends of the Czech Republic (AfoCR) Award
For Civil Society Vision at a gala dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on September 7, 2000. Czech President Vaclav
Havel will present Albright with the award in one of the most important and symbolic current events in Czech-U.S. relations, as
two leaders who embody the values of civil society and the rule of law come together near the ends of their terms in office.
The program will include an address by Havel, an acceptance speech by Albright, musical entertainment, and a tribute to
Czechs who have contributed to America. NBC News’ Tom Brokaw has been invited to serve as Master of Ceremonies for
the evening. Frederick V. Malek, president of Thayer Partners, is General Dinner Chairman.

Albright's accomplishments in the fields of international relations and human rights are legion. She is the first female Secretary of
State and the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government. She provided great support, encouragement and counsel to the
Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in their efforts to join NATO.

The 2000 Award Gala will take place on September 7 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. For information on reservations
and accommodation, please call (202) 338-6100, or visit the special Gala website at:

Upcoming SVU World Congress Washington, DC, August 9-13, 2000

The Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) will hold its anniversary, 20th in number, World Congress on August
9-13, 2000 in Washington, DC. This will be an extraordinary event which will feature prominent speakers and visitors from
both sides of the Atlantic. It will be co-sponsored by the American University where the meetings and other activities will take
place in cooperation with the Embassies of both the Czech and Slovak Republics. The central theme of the Congress will be
"Civil Society and Democracy into the New Millennium."

Apart from the major themes, the program will include numerous discussion panels and symposia covering practically every
aspect of human endeavor. Of particular interest should be a discussion panel on "Civil and Human Rights in Czech and Slovak
Republics," featuring Czech and Slovak Ambassadors in the US and the American Ambassador in Prague, and several other
distinguished speakers from government and academia.

Apart from numerous discussions, there will be an exciting and entertaining social and cultural program. The highlight of the
social events will be a banquet-cruise down the Potomac, past the illuminated Washington monuments on the beautiful 3-deck
air-conditioned cruise ship, The Spirit of Washington, with a sumptuous buffet, a festive show, and dancing to an excellent live
jazz band. The next day there will be an exciting bus excursion to Monticello, the famed residence of President Thomas
Jefferson and a visit to the University of Virginia.

To defray costs of housing, accommodations have been reserved in the newly renovated American University dormitories.
These are available on a first come basis.

The SVU calls on all scholars, scientists, artists, educators, students, ethnic community leaders, businessmen, lawyers, clergy,
social and cultural workers, journalists, computer experts and others to send us suggestions for specific topics and possible
speakers. We are interested in additional speakers and organizers of subject panels and topical symposia. We welcome any
offers to help. Point of Contact: SVU President - Mila Rechcigl, 1703 Mark Lane, Rockville, MD 20852; tel.: (301)
881-7222; FAX: (301) 881-9667; e-mail:

Project to Present Roma in the Czech Republic

10 years after “Velvet revolution” there is an alarming increase in aggravated tensions between Romanies and other Czech
citizens which results in high numbers of racial crimes, and in some cases, of Romani attempts to leave the Czech Republic. The
Czech Center New York, in cooperation with ECEC, PLI, HRC of Columbia University and HEY, Czech Republic /I must
find out what they are/ has organized a project "Roma in the Czech Republic", whose main goal is to create a platform for the
free and active exchange of ideas and experiences that would address these problems.

The scheduled events, conference, photography exhibits, and the film/video screening will present the day-to-day life of Roma
with all the shortcomings and difficulties derived from living in a transitional Czech society.

In particular, the International Conference on the “Past and Present of Roma in the Czech Republic“, which will be held at the
ECEC of Columbia University, will address a number of problematic social and racial issues, such as the question of Roma
citizenship, intolerance and xenophobia, social/racial differences, and Roma access to education.

Other events like the Roma photography exhibit, the informal discussion with Romani representatives, the film screening, and
the series of video projections will attempt to raise awareness of Romani issues to the American public as well as to the
significant Czech-American community living in the USA. The effort will be also aimed at Czech and American media alike to
publicize these events and inform in an objective manner about the complexity of life of Roma in the Czech Republic.
We certainly believe that this project will create a new impetus toward ameliorating Romani hardship in the Czech Republic and
will contribute to an effective approach toward solving long-term outstanding Romani social and racial issues in Czech society.
April 17: Roma in the Czech Republic, Past and Present
International Conference at Columbia University, ECEC
Four panels on Romani issues in the Czech Republic, with panelists from the Czech Republic and the U.S.: Roma and human
rights activists, scholars, sociologists, and representatives of nonprofit organizations. The conference will also include
presentations on publications from the Czech Republic and on the activities of major Roma-related projects in the Czech
Republic. Open to the general public.
April 18: My World
Exhibition of photographs by Romani children
At the Czech Center New York - pictures taken by Romani children between the ages of 3 and 17 from their immediate
environment. My World was inaugurated in September 1998 at the Gallery U prstenu in Prague. From there it has traveled
both within the Czech Republic and abroad. The driving force behind the project is the Human Rights Educational Youth
Association, a group of recent graduates from universities in Prague, with generous support from the G+G publishing house. On
its return from New York, the exhibition will be donated to the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno. Opening of exhibition will
be followed by discussion with the guests of the International Conference.
Film and Video Series
Series will include feature film Marian (1996), on April 17, directed by Petr Vaclav, which received four awards at the
International Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland and has also been screened at international festivals in Montreal and
Toronto. Video series at the Czech Center will include documentary films, Testimony of Frantisek Daniel, Birds of a Black
Feather, Lacho Jilo – Good Heart, Vojta, Roma Culture in Czech Republic, Black and White in Colour, etc.

News Digest


Rail-Car Maker Getting Back on Track

Following nearly two years of intense negotiations, the second largest U.S. freight-car producer Thrall Car stepped in to rescue
the ailing Czech industrial firm by purchasing it from CKD Holding Praha. After shareholders agreed to the deal last month,
Thrall acquired the company on March 8 in a deal that the U.S. firm estimates will eventually require an investment of more than
850 million CZK (USD 23 million) to pay off debts and other commitments that Thrall has promised to assume.

"Within the next 12 to 18 months, with the market supporting, we expect to have strong, positive cash flow," said Craig
Duchossois, president of Chicago-based Thrall. "Short-term profits are not our objective. We're going to generate profits as
quickly as possible, but not at the expense of long-term positioning," he added.

Vagonka Studenka traces its history back to 1900 and assumed its current status as a joint-stock company in 1994. After
posting losses for both 1993 and 1994, the company allied itself with CKD Holding Praha in hopes that the affiliation would
generate more contracts. But Vagonka's woes persisted. While continuing to accrue debt to suppliers and banks, the company
was burned when one of its main customers, the state-owned Czech Railways, cut expenditures in 1997 as part of austerity
measures. After two more loss-making years, by the end of 1999 Vagonka's debt stood at 2.7 billion CZK, more than half of
which it owed to banks. It was through these loans that Thrall entered Vagonka. The U.S. company, which is strictly a
freight-car producer, promptly turned around and sold the passenger-car division of Vagonka Studenka back to CKD.

JP Morgan/Komercni Banka Win Cesky Telecom Work

The Czech government chose a consortium consisting of JP Morgan and Czech Komercni Banka last Wednesday as adviser
and global coordinator for the sale of the state's 51.1 percent stake in the fixed-line monopoly Cesky Telecom. The JP
Morgan/KB consortium beat out two other short-listed candidates for global adviser: a consortium of Austria's CA IB
Securities, Salomon Smith Barney and J. Henry Schroders and Co, and Credit Suisse First Boston.

The government plans to sell its stake in Cesky Telecom by the end of the year or in early 2001 by either allowing the
Dutch-Swiss consortium which currently holds a minority stake, TelSource, to gain majority control, or by other methods. The
adviser is expected to select the most suitable way for the privatization of the remaining state stake, define the sale's timetable
and manage the privatization along with the state privatization agency, the National Property Fund. Telecom is 35.5 percent
owned by TelSource, combining Dutch KPN and SwissCom.

Czech Beer Industry Consolidated, Small Breweries Keep on Fighting

1999 was a tough year for breweries in the Czech Republic. Beer production was down 2 percent, as the country's No. 2
importer Slovakia reduced its quota by 25 percent and shipments to Russia nearly dried up completely. 1999 was also the
fourth year of a fierce domestic price war, which shrunk profits at small breweries to almost nothing. Only a handful of the
Czech Republic's 50-plus breweries showed profit at the end of 1999.

However, a tentative withdrawal from the cheap beer market by larger breweries Plzensky Prazdroj and Starobrno signaled a
possible truce in the price war. In spite of their troubles, Czech small breweries met the challenge by concentrating on local
markets, emerging with new products and working at increasing production quality. Lately, Czech small breweries practically
won three of the four categories in the beer-tasting competition at the prestigious Pivex trade show, beating out such prestigious
beers as Budvar-Budweiser and Gambrinus. Pilsner Urquell declined to enter its beer in the contest. Only Krusovice, the
country's fourth-largest brewery, was able to squeeze in among the little guys to bring home a gold for the dark beer category.
Many small brewers created specialty brews to tough out the price war. This also helped them sell more beer in a market
where per capita beer consumption is already the highest in the world. Customers aren't looking forward to a market where
there are only five brands of beer brewed by three breweries. Small breweries have a chance to exist as long as they can keep
their brand special and find a niche in the market.

Few Locals Fret over German IT Lure

Even with a controversial proposal from the German government to offer extended residency permits to information technology
workers from Eastern Europe and India, most people close to the Czech IT industry don't expect software engineers and
programmers here to pack up their smarts and head for the border. In an attempt to close a yawning shortage in its IT
workforce, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government decided the best short-term solution was to hire as many 30,000
qualified "guest workers" while bolstering the country's computer education system.

If passed, the law would offer three- to five-year temporary work permits. Germany currently caps the number of Czech
workers at 2,000 per year on one-year work permits.

Only a handful of IT workers left the Czech Republic for Germany last year, according to the Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs. For workers from India and the Ukraine, the offer will likely be a ticket to jobs and salaries unthinkable at home. But
the Czech IT labor market is cracking now and is expected to follow the expansion of international companies outsourcing or
simply opening a Czech branch.

Gas Prices Push Trade Deficit

The Czech February trade deficit nearly doubled on the back of higher oil import prices, but the data signalled little change for
the crown or Central Bank monetary policy. Czech Statistical Office (CSU) data showed on Tuesday the February deficit
widening to 7.2 billion crowns (USD 196.6 million), up from 3.8 billion crowns for the same month last year, while January's
deficit was revised down to 7.2 billion crowns from 9.1 billion. The February gap was slightly higher than the forecast, but the
Czech crown showed little reaction, easing marginally but remaining in its recent tight trading range just on the weak side of
35.5 to the euro.

The CSU said the February gap was influenced by the crown value of fuel imports, which was more than two times the level
seen a year ago due to higher prices. Fuel accounted for 5.1 billion of the deficit. The result was also skewed by 2.4 billion
crowns in imports of U.S. aircraft. Analysts say the data still point to a sustained economic recovery. February nominal imports
were up 43.5 percent, year-on-year, while exports grew by 41 percent.

Business Digest


Sparkling Fusion of Folklore and Jazz

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of statesman, philosopher and Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the Czech Embassy presented the great Czech jazz pianist Emil Viklicky and his ensemble, Ad Lib Moravia, on March 9, 2000.

America's fusion of democracy and music inspired Masaryk to realize his dream -- to establish democracy in Central Europe as well.  And the ensemble would also perform Masaryk's favorite songs as link with the man himself.

In addition to the fusion of jazz, serious music, and traditional folk idioms, Ad Lib Moravia also uses Hungarian, Romany and Klezmer idioms to form a Central European music without boundaries, an expression of liberty through impulse, emotion, and sound.

Such fusion requires professional skill and sophisticated perspective.  Notes were expertly, casually tossed into the musical
stream like skipping stones -- very accurately, to achieve a subtle, precise effect.  The ensemble consistently sustained an
sparkling, interactive flow of beautiful sounds, whether playing jazz, folk music, or simply speaking through whatever musical
style fit the mood.

The nucleus of the ensemble is a very capable jazz trio:  there were Viklicky's inspired riffs on piano (sometimes plucking the
strings), an engaging combination of virtuosity and directness from Josef Feco on bass, and fiery outbursts from puckish Laco
Tropp on drums (at times stroking his instruments to achieve sensuous sounds).  They were joined by Zuzana Lapcikova, a
folksinger, masterly cembalon player and ethnomusicologist; and Petr Ruzicka, whose raw, almost Cajun-like concept of folk
violin extends seamlessly to the vigorous, demanding violinistic styles of Bartok and Enesco.  Feco's father, leader of a Romany
ensemble in Prague, is also an indirect influence on the ensemble.

The evening was graced by Lapcikova's rare, four-octave cembalon (concert dulcimer), made in 1875 by Josef Vaclav
Schunda.  Her gentle voice and sensitive playing of this instrument provided a mood of contemplative enchantment for one of
Masaryk's favorite songs, "Tece, voda, tece."

The ensemble received standing ovations from a crowd of jazz enthusiasts as well as young Czechs and Slovaks.  Many said on
the way out, "They're playing again tomorrow!  Let's go!"

Judith Fiehler

Czech Artist of the Month

PETR EBEN (1929) is one of the most distinguished contemporary Czech composers and the best known abroad of the
country's modern composers.  He has produced a wide range of works, encompassing religious music (Prague Te Deum,
1989) and secular compositions, particularly for orchestra (Prague Nocturne), as well as organ works (Laudes, Job) and
vocal pieces (Love and Death and De Tempore).  Eben's lifelong love for the organ has given rise to an impressive output,
and along with the works of Messiaen, may be said to form the core of the post-war European organ repertoire. As a
composer, he has never incorporated elements of New Music in his work.  His musical language is broadly tonal, using
classically-expressed forms and inspired by Gregorian chants. His works are largely imbued with spiritual values and based on
biblical and historical motifs.  The largest theme he has ever dealt with was in his church opera Jeremiah, which Eben regards
as his most important work to date. Jeremiah received its premiere in the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle in 1997. Eben
also wrote the libretto, based on the play of the same name by Stefan Zweig.  Eben's Catholic convictions, his personality as a
teacher, and his human and artistic modesty have won him the esteem of the general public and the musical world alike. He is
the father of three sons who have been extremely successful in their professions. David is the leading Czech expert on
Gregorian Chant at both a theoretical and practical level, as director of the internationally famous choir Schola Gregoriana

Czech Theater Festival Nearing

The upcoming Czech Theater Festival, brought to you by the Czech Embassy in Washington, DC, takes place May 17 - June
14, 2000.  Tickets for opening night, which features the U.S. premiere of the contemporary Opera la Serra, are already on
sale and are going fast.  For tickets or more information on that performance, please call GW's IN Series at Mount Vernon
College, at: (202) 625-4655.  Further details about the entire festival are available on the Embassy's web site, at  A limited number of passes for all Czech Theater Festival performances (excluding Opera la Serra)
is available for $35.  A golden patron pass, with priority seating at all events, is available for $100.  For more information,
please call the Czech Embassy's Cultural Section at (202) 274-9100.

Embassy Events

April  18
Jan Burian, son of the renowned Czech composer and avant-garde theater director E.F. Burian, is a singer/songwriter and
composer in the tradition of America's Randy Newman. His exceptional career as a songwriter and pianist has  spanned over
3000 performances in clubs and theaters around the Czech and Slovak Republics.  Burian has gained popularity primarily as a
result of his clever, funny and poetic songs and comments on public life.  During the last decade, he has published several
books, comprising short stories, poetry and travelogues, started his own successful TV show, and released four CDs.  At 7:30
p.m. at the Czech Embassy.  Reservations recommended.  Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets $10 at the door.

Thursday, April 27
The American chamber ensemble, Poetica Musica (Eleanor Valkenburg, soprano, Elias Mokole, baritone, and Christine Dore,
pianist), joined by Czech guest artists Jaromir Achatzi, tenor, and Jana Kuchtova, piano, present works by Dvorak, Smetana,
Janacek, Gershwin, Foster and Joplin.  Poetica Musica is a consortium of musicians who have collectively and individually
performed in such concert halls as Alice Tully, Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls in NewYork, St.-Martin-in-the-Fields and the
Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Janacek in Hukvaldy Festival in the Czech Republic. This is their fourth
appearance at the Czech Embassy, with proceeds per tradition  benefiting the Baroque Theater Foundation of the Cesky
Krumlov Chateau. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy.  Reservations recommended.  Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413.
Tickets $10 at the door.

Friday, May 12
A Benefit Dinner Party at the Czech Embassy in collaboration with GW´s IN Series of Performing Arts to support the
production of Opera la Serra. The evening will feature a cabaret show, dancing in the garden, Czech gourmet specialities, and
authentic beer. The $ 75 admission charge is tax-deductible. Call (202) 625-4657 for reservations. At 7:30pm.


Wednesday, May 17
also Friday 19 + Saturday 20
The festival opens with the the U.S. premiere of Opera la Serra, an original Czech opera composed by Michal Vich,  with a
libretto by Jaroslav Dusek. This unusual performance presents beautiful and romantic music, with a text written in Operanto, a
ground-breaking language created by the librettist specifically for use in operas. Commissioned by Prague's Archa Theater in
1994 and opening there in the same year, the imaginative opera became an instant success.  The program is presented in
Washington by the In Series at Mount Vernon College, directed and choreographed by Sharon Wyrrick, conducted by Joel
Lazar.  At GW´s Mount Vernon Campus, 2100 Foxhall Rd. (entrance from W St.), NW. Tickets $25, available at tel. (202)
625-4655, with student discounts available.  On May 17 at 8pm, and May 19 and 20 at 8:30.  The composer and librettist will
be present for the opening performance, which will be followed by a reception in their honor.

Friday, May 26
Vizita Theater (the word vizita can be translated as a doctor´s hospital round) entered the Czech art scene in 1981 with a
vision to follow pure improvisation,  with each performance a spontaneous creation beginning with point zero. Before the actors
step onto the stage, the actors make no obligatory agreement about what will happen. Future performances are thus impossible
to predict, as they rely entirely upon the atmosphere in the theater and the relationship between the performers and the
audience. Vizita never plays the same performance twice; each performance is a premiere as well as a closing night. The
founder and artistic spirit of the theater, Jaroslav Dusek, is currently the Drama Department Chair at Jaroslav Jezek
Conservatory as well as the librettist of Opera la Serra.  A regular series of live broadcasts of improvised radio plays by
Vizita, introduced by Czech Radio in the last decade, won the Silver Diploma in the Prix Futura Berlin International Festival of
radio plays and the Prix Bohemia Festival Award. The performance in Washington, DC, titled Neverending World, will be
shaped for an English speaking audience, using artificial language and English translations.  At 7:30 p.m. at 1021 7th. St., NW,
Warehouse Theatre.  Reservations recommended.  Please call: 703-684-7990. Tickets $12 at the door.

Wednesday, May 31
The performance Water Dances features a border- and genre-crossing puppet theater performance by the member of the
renowned art group Tvrdohlavi and recipient of the Foundation of Jindrich Chalupecky Award, Petr Nikl. The performance
presents a blend of colors, feelings, moods, and even  aroma, more so than any specific activity.  Nikl's primary means of
expression are light, shadow, fire and water. In various tempos and rhythms, these elements change, penetrate and influence.
Nikl's second element of expression are his hand-made puppets,  remnants of well-known childhood objects.  Dolls and plush
teddy-bears are and will probably remain Nikl´s most memorable trademark.  At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy.  Tickets
$15 at the door.  Reservations recommended.  Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413.  Due to the intimate nature of the
performance, the audience will be restricted to 50 patrons.

Thursday, June 8
Vpred Theatre is one of the ensembles united in the legendary Prague 5 artistic group. First emerging in 1975, Vpred has since
shaken the world of theater with its revolutionary kind of poetry on stage, combining new and traditional theater techniques with
group recitation and live music. In the words of the artistic leader of the ensemble, Lumir Tucek, "the rhythm on which these
performances are based is derived not only from the recitation and motion of the characters, but from their entire being.  As if
they were being moved by some kind of metaphysical machine from one triviality to another."  The two plays performed on the
occasion of the festival were immediate cult hits which played in sold-out Prague theaters for almost a decade and inspired
several movies and books.  The Seeker´s Adventures premiered in 1983 and One Day with Thomas Maca in 1984.  The
performance will be translated into English. At the IN Series, GW´s Mount Vernon Campus, 2100 Foxhall Rd.
(entrance from W St.), NW. Tickets $10. At 8:30pm.  For reservations, please call:  202/274-9100, x. 3413.

Friday, June 9
During their stay in Washington, DC, the founding couple of  Theater Vpred, Lumir Tucek and Jana Tuckova, present an
additional performance in Czech only.  The program, called Karel a Mana, is the lifestory of two people who might have had a
chance to become real nobility, if the world had not gone its own way.  At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy.  Reservations
recommended.  Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets $10 at the door.

Friday, June 14
As a special treat, the festival's closing night celebration will feature the equilibrist duo Thomas & Ruhler, whose cult production
has been acclaimed by audiences worldwide.  The Prague-based ensemble has gained international attention for its
one-of-a-kind performances reflecting the Dutch heritage of its performers. Previous tours include:  Tromso, Lahti, (1973);
Bagdad, Mekka, Chartoem, Lusaka (1976); Darjeeling, Katmandu, Lhasa, Dharamsala  (1981); Kodiak (1985).  While
reactions to the unusual production differ, audiences unite in that they have never seen anything like it before, and surely will
never forget it. The evening also features a guest appearance by the Czech star actor Tomas Hanak. At 7:30 pm at the Czech
Embassy.  Reservations recommended.  Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413.  Tickets $10 at the door.

Czech Events around the U.S.

Czech Center New York
1109 Madison Avenue, NYC, phone: 212-288 0830

April 4
Jindrich Streit - People of the Olomouc Region. The Exhibition of photographs by J. Streit. Venue: SoHo Photo Gallery, 15
White Street, NYC; phone: 212-226 8571. Opening: Tuesday, April 4; 6 - 8 pm. Date: The exhibition will be on view through
April 29; Thu: 6 - 8 pm, Fri - Sun: 1 - 6 pm, or by appointment.

April 13
Loves of a Blonde
Video screening of a film by Milos Forman (1965).
A young pianist comes to perform at a Sunday dance party arranged for the boyfriend-less working girls of the local
factory…Venue: Czech Center New York, 1109 Madison Avenue, NYC, phone: 212-288 0830, 6 and 8 pm.

April 29
Lyric Recovery at Carnegie Hall. Poet James Ragan leads Lyric Recovery Festival at Carnegie Hall. Poems of Czech poet
Miroslav Holub will be featured. Venue: Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 154 57th Street, NYC; ph: 212-864 2823. 2 pm.

April 29
Pavel Opocensky - Six new sculptures at LongHouse Reserve. Venue: LongHouse Reserve, 133 Hans Creek Rd., East
Hampton, NY; phone: 631-329 3568. Opening April 29, 4 - 6 pm.

Josef Sudek - The Brumlik Collection - 30 years of writing on photographs: 1946 - 1976. Exhibition of a rare collection of
photographs. Venue: Alan Klotz Photocollect, 22 East 72nd Street, NYC; phone: 212-327 2211. Opening: Thursday, March
2, 6:00 - 8:30 pm. The exhibition will be on view through April 15; Wed - Sat: 11 am - 6 pm, Tue by appointment only.

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
30 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

April 8-23: Exhibition of Czech, Moravian and Slovak Easter eggs from the museum’s collection and from folk artists around
the country. Free with regular museum admission.
April 10: Kava a Knihy (Coffee and Books) Reading Discussion Series, 7-9 p.m. Free. Call (319) 362-8500 for
information and book titles.
April 15: Batik egg Decorating classes. Instructor, Marj Nejdl, master folk artist. 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. Ages 12 and up
(children must be accompanied by an adult). $25. Class limited to 15. Pre-registration required. Call (319) 362-8500 to
April 16: Coe College Choir performing Czech, Slovak and Hungarian folk songs. 4 p.m., Grand Hall. Free.
April 19: Learn at Lunch. Oodles of Noodles. Ed Nejdl will show you how to make egg noodles. Noon. Heritage Hall. Free.
Call (319) 362-8500 for information.
April 22: Easter Customs & Traditions. Story and craft activity for children (and adults), focussing on the Easter holiday. 9:30 -
11:30 a.m. ages 6-8, 1-3 p.m. ages 9-12. Registration $5. Preregistration required. Call (319) 362-8500 to register.
April 29: Opening reception for "Czech Technology in Motion."
April 29-Sept. 30: Czech Technology in Motion. The first exhibition of its kind in the United States, which will feature classic
Czech cars and motorcycles, will debut in the museum's new gallery space on April 29th, 2000. The exhibition will complement
the technology section of the Homelands permanent exhibit. The cars, motorcycles, bicycles, train models, graphics and text
will illustrate the technical advancements Czechs have made in the field of transportation. The exhibition will also explore how
key historical events (such as the World Wars) and politics affected these transportation industries.
April 30: Sunday Lifelong Learning Series. 2 p.m. Free. Heritage Hall. Call (319) 362-8500 for information.
May 5-7: Three-day motorcoach trip to the Festival of Nations, St. Paul, Minn. Itinerary includes the Vesterheim Museum
and the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah; Rochester, Minn.; the Festival of Nations, St. Paul; Fort Snelling, St. Paul;. Rates
based on single, double, triple or quad room groupings. Call (319) 362-8500 for information.


April 2 Annual Benefit Card Party at the Czech Karlin Hall, 5304 Fleet Ave., Cleveland, OH. For more information, call (216)

April 9 Nebraska Czech Festival in Omaha. At Sokol Hall, 13th & Martha St. For more information, call (402)  435-6914.

April 9 Karel Husa´s "Eight Czech Duets for Piano" will be performed in Daytona Beach, FL, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church,
201 University Blvd.

April 9+10 The DC Filmfest presents "Black and White in Color", a Czech documentary film by Mira Erdevicki-Charap about
the Romany singer Vera Bila. At Loews Cineplex Foundry, 1055 Thomas Jefferson St., NW, Washington, DC. For time and
tickets, call (202) 628-FILM.

April 10+11 The DC Filmfest presents the most successful Czech film of 1999 "Cozy Dens" by Jan Hrebejk. At Tenley
Theater, 4200 Wisconsin Ave., Washington, DC. For time and tickets, call (202) 628-FILM.

April 16 at 7 P.M. The 75-member "Choristers of Upper Dublin" will perform Antonín Dvorák´s "Stabat Mater", at 7:00pm,
at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, Susquehanna Ave. and Butler Pike., in Ambler, Pa. For more information, call

April 23 Easter Sunday celebration at Bohemian Hall in Astoria, at 2:00pm. For more information, call (718) 274-4925.

Through June 11 The exhibit The Holocaust Project: From Darkness Into Light. In Allentown, PA, Lehigh University, Zoellner
Arts Center, 420 E. Packer Ave. For more information, call (610) 758-4856.

Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic U.S. tour
April 1 Carlisle, PA; 2 Winchester, VA; 4 Williamsport, PA; 5 South Orange, NJ; 8 Merrick, NY. For time and venue, call
(212) 581-8478.