The Czech language belongs to the West Slavic group of languages and is inflectional in nature; that is, uses words to reflect grammatical information, such as tense or gender, making Czech literature rich in artistic expression.
Many Czech writers work abroad, most of who immigrated for political reasons. Patrik Ouredni is a Czech linguist, poet and translator who settled in Paris.
Milan Kundera, one of the most widely known Czech writers, lives in Paris, as well as prose writer Vera Linhartova and the poet Petr Kral.
Literary life experienced a full revival after the Velvet Revolution of November 1989 against Socialism.
Today, the Society of Czech Writers coordinates efforts of Czech artists to produce innovative literary works. A number of new publishing houses were established after the revolution, as well as prolific resources for many subjects previously banned.
A popular writer and poet Lenka Reinerova has produced a number of books that were received well by the Czech literary public. Reinerova is the last Prague author to write in the German language.
Czech architecture is influenced by major European trends, yet still represents Czech identity. The decorative and stylised Art Nouveau architecture ushered new concepts which presented a new artistic expression of the age. The municipal house in Prague and the theatre in Prostejov are prime examples of Art Nouveau architecture.
In the early 1900s, Czech architecture saw the emergence of a unique form of Cubism, with round and crystalline derivation of geometric shapes. For the first time in the world, Cubist forms were applied to architecture, which were implemented during the pre-war years of 1913-14 in Prague to building designs, statues and furniture.
Josef Gocar is one of the leading Czech architects who designed many buildings in the Cubist style, of which the most distinguished are the spa pavilion in Lazne Bohdanec and the House of the Black Madonna in Prague.
Other outstanding Cubists include Josef Chochol, who designed an impressive building on Neklanova Street in Prague, and Emil Kralicek, who designed the Diamant House in the centre of Prague.
The next age of modern architectural construction completely broke away from monumentality and decoration, and found artistic expression in the practicality of space and simplicity.
Czech music has also made an impressive contribution to world culture with the likes of composers Bohuslav Martinu and Leos Janacek, as well as by the international music festival Prague Spring.
Contemporary Czech music is influenced by many world trends and still explores new opportunities in all genres, from Classical to Alternative and Rock music.
In the beginning of the 20th Century, Czech musical modernism emerged with such representatives as Leos Janacek, Vitezslav Novak and Joseph Suk, depicting modern man as a strong but yet sensitive individual. Folk music is also popular in the Czech music scene.
Czech folk singers of the past wrote and sang of social events which affected the society, especially during the Socialist era.
Today, folk singers produce songs that border on several genres with such groups as Jablkon, who links Rock with Avant-garde; Oldircj Janota, with his Minimalist and introverted concepts; and Dagmar Adrtova-Vonkova, who combines Avant-garde song writing with Czech Country music. The Alternative music scene during Socialism mixed personal and political conviction.
The violinist and singer Iva Bittovaa is among today’s European-type stars, who produces a blend of classic Avant-garde, Rock, Jazz and Czech Folk. The Agon Orchestra and Dama Dama percussion ensemble mix Classical music also with the Avant-garde.
Hip Hop is a genre that has seen rapid development as well, and has gained large popularity among young people. Veterans of rap music in the Czech Republic include Peneri Strycka Homeboye, whose radical, debut album Repertoar arrived in 2001.
The Czech theatrical tradition of the 21st Century is very colourful, including opera, ballet and drama, as well pantomime, puppet theatre, black-light theatre and popular musicals. However, the most widespread theatrical form in the country is drama. Some 54 percent of all performances made by theatre companies in 2004 were drama presentations.
The most famous puppeteers in modern theatre are Milos Kirschner and Josef Skupa, with their puppets ‘Hurvinek’ and ‘Spejbl’. The most prominent Czech opera ensembles include the State Opera in Prague, National Theatre in Prague, National Theatre in Brno and the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava.
Contemporary singers with worldwide recognition include the mezzo sopranos Eva Urbanova and Magdalena Kozena, as well as the soprano Dagmar Peckova.
The Czech Republic has a prolific generation of new film directors, screenwriters and actors who present their productions all over the world.
Czech films have been awarded prestigious prizes at international film festivals, as well as the highest honour in filmmaking, the Oscar, several times, with the films Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street) by Elmar Klos and Jan Kadar, Ostre sledovane vlaky (Closely Observed Trains) by Jiri Menzel and Kolya by Jan Sverak.