The Czech Zither

By Pennington, Richard | Contemporary Review, July 1992 | Go to article overview

The Czech Zither


Pennington, Richard, Contemporary Review


MADAME Libuse Vokrova Ambrosova was the wife of a member of the Benes government that managed to govern Czechoslovakia without the help of Russian tanks. Her husband was responsible for sport and youth activities, and hence very active when the |Sokol' had to be organised in 1938, for this festival brought to Prague the athletes and delegations from all the Slav countries and was confessedly a pan-Slav demonstration. I was not a Slav, but received an invitation to attend, and was welcomed by M. Ambros himself who told me that his wife would take care of me during the celebrations. Which, indeed, she did so well that for the inaugural march-past I found myself on the presidential dais next to Madame Zenkl, wife of the mayor of Prague and thus only one chair away from the President himself.

Madame Ambrosova was blonde and beautiful, with eyes of the blue of cornflowers and waves of hair like wheat burnished by the summer suns, and a complexion cream and rose not at all Slav.

I was taken to all the Bohemian beauty spots by a Bohemian beauty and learned my history from my delightful guide in the shadow of the famous hill Rip, at mediaeval Karlstejn and Krivoklat, in the Lobkovitz library and in the presidential garden at Lany. And that novitiate over, I was introduced to the elegance of the Bohemian way of life in the company of Antonin Heythum, the architect who had designed the Czech pavilion at the Brussels Exhibition, and his wife Charlotta, who was as much Polish flame, colour and vivacity as he was Czechoslovakian imperturbability. We dined at the Golden Orb, the little cafe that hangs out from the Castle rock over Mala Strana or up river at the Barrandov restaurant, a name that commemorates, it seems, a French geologist who lingered here fascinated, it is said, by the geological contours; although as I listened to Libuse Ambrosova I wondered if that was his official explanation for other more pleasing contours.

It was while dining on the terrace of the Barrandov restaurant that I first heard a zither played. The summer night was warm, with a light haze on the water-meadows. In the wide river below was reflected the orange moon; and around me, dining and talking and laughing were the Czech families whose brutal oppression of their Sudeten neighbours was -- so the world was informed -- paining the sentitive heart of Hitler.

With the good dinner and the Melnik wine and the political conversation, the peaceable and unassertive Heythum was growing patriotic and bellicose, was marshalling and manoeuvering all the armed forces of the Republic to the derisive laughter of his Polish wife, who gently assured him that he would be annihilated without the Polish cavalry.

It was then that one of the musicians began a song -- a Moravian folk-song, said Libuse -- to the accompaniment of a zither. The general conversation died away. Everyone listened. And whether it was the plaintive melody, the luminous night beyond the terrace, the groups round the tables under the shaded lights, immobile as though transfixed by enchantment--I was so moved by the whole scene and the song that, back in London I looked round for zithers, but in vain, and must have annoyed my musical friends by wondering how the country had lived so long without them.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Czech Zither
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.