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Song “Havel in a Nutshell”

April 24, 2011

The song, “Havel in a Nutshell,” was composed for the occasion of the opening of the old-new exposition: "Václav Havel - Czech Myth,” the new subtitle of which is just “Havel in a Nutshell.”

The composer of the song, Petr Putna, adds: “The Director of the Václav Havel Library, Martin C. Putna - and at the same time also my brother - asked me to organise a musical programme for the vernissage. It occurred to me that it would be good to create a song that would be thematically related to the exhibition or directly to the person of Václav Havel. The framework of the song is almost identical to the concept of the exhibition, which divides Havel's life into four periods: bourgeois origin - theatre - dissent - presidency. However, I did not want to create any servile hymn or imaginary monument, but only to try, from a bird’s eye view and with humorous exaggeration, to encapsulate the life of one of the most important figures in 20th-century Czech history.  The life story of Václav Havel is so incredible and varied that it could constitute several songs, and indeed I wonder that nobody has processed him in this form before (at least not that I know about). To make the performance at the vernissage special, for cooperation I invited a beatboxer, Andrew Havlik, known from the Mako Mako band (www.makomako.cz) with whom I and my band, Závodní ovce (bandzone.cz/zavodniovce) once performed. Ondřej alias En.Dru is triple champion of the beatbox (he twice won in individuals and once with his other group, BeatBurger Band (www.beatburgerband.cz). He, with his beat and vocal improvisations, actually added a different character to the composition and moved it up a notch. Originally we considered everything to be a one-time issue: the song will be played at the opening and then will forever disappear. But, due to the response it received during the performance, we finally decided to record it.”

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Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi

„Many Europeans and Americans today are painfully aware of the fact that Euro-American civilization has undermined and destroyed the autonomy of non-European cultures. They feel it was their fault, and thus feel they have to make amends through a kind of emotional identification with others, through accommodating them, through trying to ingratiate themselves, through a longing to “help” them in one way or another. To my mind, this is a false way of going about it… It contains… the same familiar feeling of superiority… It is inverted colonialism. It is an intellectual spasm. I think we will all help one another best if we make no pretences, remain ourselves, and simply respect and honour one another, just as we are. “

Václav Havel:
Speech on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, New Delhi, February 8, 1994