“We have always had a strong tradition of music” declares Charles University musicologist Jarmila Gabrielová. “I found it is a rare Czech who doesn’t play some instrument – or at the very least sing”.
As often happens it was the artists, musicians and writers who played a large part in the downfall of communism – with protest music, underground exhibitions and resistance literature. One of the interesting stories is a band called Plastic People of the Universe who formed a psychedelic band during communist times, some of the members wound up in prison for their art. Interestingly, they weren’t even playing political music, just singing songs from the West was enough to get them in trouble. Joseph Yanosik writes “The amazing history of the Plastic People is so crucially intertwined with the history of Czechoslovakia that one can not fully understand the history of that country without knowing the history of the band, and vice versa. No other rock band has had to put up with the abuse and the obstacles that the Plastics did during their lifetime. Yet they did not plan to risk their lives for their music. As Hlavsa said, they were “dissidents against their will.” Eventually, however, they came to the realization that what they were doing was historically important and their very existence through the hard times their country was experiencing was a powerful symbol of freedom to the younger generation of Czechs”.