1. They eat dragons
2. They slow down the trams when we make recordings
Our recording studio, Besední dům (above), is the most beautiful place in the world in which to work. It was built by the same architect (Teophil Hansen) who built the Musikverein in Vienna and, inside, it looks a bit like a smaller version of that hall.
The trouble is that tram numbers 4, 92 and 95 trundle past outside and, when they go above a certain velocity, this can make for some pretty ugly rumbling sounds in the background of our recordings, I can tell you.
Fortunately, we have the number of someone at the local council that we can call when we have recordings in the diary. They dispatch a council worker to stand a hundred yards up the road and he flags down the trams so that they trundle past Besední dům at an inaudible velocity.
I’m fairly certain they don’t have fortnightly bin collections either.
3. They don’t bury their dead
In these anxious days of soaring temperatures, the last thing you want to be doing is allowing your loved ones’ cadavers simply to rot away (or worse still, burn!) releasing frankly unwelcome CO2 molecules into the atmosphere.
TOP TIP FROM BRNO: when they peg it, why not simply line them up alongside each other on your basement floor and charge entry fees? It’s good for the planet and it’s good for your pocket.
Have YOU heard anything about the Czech economy crumbling recently?
4. About 8% of the population are children who go to after-school music classes
Brno has a population slightly smaller than that of Bristol. Now close your eyes and try to imagine 30,000 Bristolian school kids attending music classes at dedicated music institutes after normal school hours. Tricky, isn’t it?
On the other hand, this might go some way towards explaining why Kantiléna, the children’s choir of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, is by FAR the best mixed children’s choir I have ever come across.
5. Our Sound Engineer, Jaroslav, is a Rock Star!
My favourite word in the whole Czech language and an excellent example of why learning Czech in order to conduct a symphony orchestra needn’t be as cumbersome as it might at first appear to be.
That’s right: the Czech for “OK, chaps, let’s run it from the top and play this bally piece right the way through to the very end only this time let’s see if we can’t inject a spot of GUMPTION into it, what say you?” is a four-letter word containing precisely no vowels.
If you think this might come in handy at some point (and I respectfully suggest you FIND a reason to use it), here’s how it’s pronounced.
7. Rehearsals begin when the clock crows
…because if there’s one thing every city centre needs, it’s a massive clock.
8. I get to conduct the orchestra I wanted to conduct when I was 15
Excerpts courtesy of Music Sales Film & TV
9. Ariel Sharon plays in our trombone section
…and he does a pretty useful line in conducting prog-rock covers on his days off too.
10. They eat sparrows
(They don’t really. It’s a lump of dead pig but the dragon’s definitely a dragon.)