Friday, August 26, 2016

Prague's Municipal House-- Art Nouveau Splendor

Monday, June 28, 2015
Prague's  Municipal House, an Art Nouveau masterpiece built in the early years of the 20th century, contains conference rooms, restaurants, bars, and Prague's most strikingly beautiful concert venue--Smetana Hall.
The large mosaic above the main entrance is fittingly titled "Homage to Prague"

Moving inside you progress up sleek red carpeted stairways

Doorways are capped with lush decoration.

Even the elevator shaft gleams with Italian marble and crisp grillwork.

Off to one side on the ground floor is an elegant dining room.  We were resolved to try it after our concert finished, but elected to sit in their outdoor section because it was such a pleasant evening.  
Our guide earlier in the day had recommended the more down to earth restaurant in the basement of the building because it was cheaper but had the same chef.
We did go back and try it the following evening and were not disappointed with its fare. 
Then again with that great dark beer all food goes down smoothly. 
Dining is one of the most enjoyable necessities when traveling, but music is another kind of food.  That leads us to the fact that everything in the Municipal House leads to its prime attraction--the golden splendor of Smetana Hall.  It is the kind of place that makes you stop at the entrance and snap a picture. 

Then,  as soon as you step inside, you find yourself in a world of carefully controlled proportion combined with serene beauty.  Whether you view it from the front

or from the stage looking back, it is a gem.

If you zoom in to a view of the organ pipes that command the upper portion of the back wall,

you see a large golden medallion of the hall's namesake composer--Bedrich Smetana.

He lived from 1824-1884 and is often called the father of Czech music even though his countryman Antonin Dvorak now has a more solid international reputation.  Smetana had a tough and checkered life. Ironically, like Beethoven, he went deaf but continued to compose.  His most enduring work is the 2nd movement of a symphonic tone poem called "Ma Vlast (My Country)", which is titled The Moldau.  Listen to it here.    It was intended to invoke the flow of the Vitava River from its source in the Bohemian mountains through the Czech countryside and to the city of Prague. It's a lovely piece of music.

Our survey of the hall now continues.  Looking up invites you to take in glass skylight panels of delicate beauty.

Along the side of the auditorium's swirling curves are statues and paintings that seem emblematic of music's ability to evoke both passion and serenity.  


Gold is the color of choice in emblazoned crests, exquisite grillwork, and splendid lighting fixtures.

Finally, when you put the Prague Music Orchestra on the stage in this architectural masterpiece for a concert of "The Best of Mozart and Dvorak, you have an evening that you will not soon forget. It embodies total sonic and visual satisfaction. 

We joined the audience in hearty "Bravo" s and walked out into the evening for a late dinner and a final walk as the sun set. 

Tomorrow our final outing will take on a more somber note as we visit the Nazi concentration camp known as Terezin





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