Upon first listening to a recording of Karel Husa’s Music for Prague and then several days later playing in the first rehearsals for the upcoming Wind Orchestra concert, I couldn’t help but think about my own visit to Prague several summers ago. As I remember it, the city that I visited bared little resemblance to the Prague that Husa so solemnly recounts.
In Music for Prague, Husa portrays the darkness of a city under Soviet rule, where basic human rights and freedoms were long forgotten; my recollections are very different. I remember the vibrant artisan community selling their wares on the Charles Bridge and the huge graffiti wall in tribute to The Beatles. I remember the crowds of people celebrating bachelorette parties and the kids gathered around the town square waiting with patience for the astronomical clock to chime on the hour. I remember the Jewish corridor where synagogues had been beautifully restored following the destruction and terror of the Holocaust which plagued the city years before the Prague Spring of 1968.
Music for Prague is particularly evocative and relevant because it very quickly reminded me that behind the beautiful restoration and the fresh coat of paint Prague was once a gloomier city. We shouldn’t forget that behind the Prague of the 21st century, there was a Prague of 1968 that was persecuted. Husa’s music is timeless since it reminds us that people are still persecuted all throughout the world. They are persecuted for their beliefs, for their race, for their sexual orientation, for their religion. Amongst the hustle and bustle of my daily life, Karel Husa’s Music for Prague made me slow down to think about these injustices