Why Prague and why The Ghosts of Prague? Why the old parts of Prague can show a parade of all sorts of phantoms, spirits, shades, vampires and haunting visions? Since ancient times this place was a merchant crossroads, where you pass through the city of narrow sinuous streets with unexpected views into nostalgic gardens of old gloomy houses, where you might be terrified by ghastly sights of gothic cathedral stone gargoyles, and astounded by the huge mass of baroque domes. There is midnight striking. It is easy to say that you cannot meet dwarfs in the catacombes. But who can be so sure about it not to say... Maybe ...
“Prague Ghosts” was inspired by old Prague tales and legends. Most of them come from medieval times, but probably ghosts are creatures without age who exist regardless of time and who struggle to be freed from their fate. Most of them haven't yet fulfilled their desire and still wait for their chance. In spite of their longing for eternal peace, they give the place its genius loci and one might pity, if they would finally find their peace. But it may not be that easy.
In the times, when whores were walking through Celetná street and seducing the passers-by, one monk returned here from the monastery. It didn't take long and one of the whores begun to circle around him. The pious monk tried to drive her away. This incited her even more and soon she stripped the upper part of her body. The monk's patience wore thin. He raised his hand with a crucifix and struck her. The blow was so unfortunate that she fell dead. Since that time both of them haunt Celetná street.
Mathew was an old drunkard. Once he drank more than was his measure and the alkohol in him blazed and he became forever a fiery man. He appeared mostly to drunkards during their night walks from pub in the neighbourhood of Pofiíãí. He could be freed by a person, who would thank him for his company on his way home from a pub. The fiery man used to burne in passageways and on the street corners and looked very sad. Everybody who saw him was scared to death and ran away. This went on for years before he happped to be in luck's way. Then he met Frank, the groom, who on his way from the pub could not quite clearly see whom he met. He gratefully accepted his fiery companion and didn't forget to thank him.
The house at Ozerov called “Ten Virgins” was a well known tavern of the rafters from Podskalí. There were ten friendly girl dancers with whom the rafters were having fun till the morning. But the neighbours soon lost their patience and took the law into their own hands. There was a fight and the tavern was turned into ruins. The wildest girl of all was like possessed by the demon. She laughed, screamed and danced like mad, spinning around in the midst of the row. “Dance till Doomsday, you slut!” shouted someone. And it was as he said. Now she appears in Pod Slovany street and dances with the passers-by until they fall down dead.
When the cemetery of Na Slovanech monastery was being renewed, diggers found an old pagan burial ground and many old bones laid on the heaps of soil. Three lazy monks who watched aside were engrossed. “Look, brothers!” said one of them, “the bones of an unbelieving dog! Even the earth doesn't want him.” Then the monks saw a stray dog nearby, they cheered, and called to it. “Come, doggie, come! Your dinner is served.” They took the bones and started to throw them at the animal. But they failed to notice the abbot, who was watching them for a while. “Aren't you ashamed, you sinfull souls?!” he shouted at them. “Let you be dogs yourselves!” And as he said this, his words came true. The eyes of three big black hairy dogs were looking at him. The abbot made a sign of cross, the dogs howled, pulled their tails between their legs and disappeared. Since those days their reappear there. They'll find their peace only when a pagan kindly strokes them.
It was getting dark and the tavern was quiet when the door swung open and a stranger came in. He ordered a dinner and a drink and started to look for the girls. The old procuress watched him a while, then took place at his table and offered him the girls from her flock. The stranger hesitated a moment, then put money on the table and ordered the procuress to send him a beautiful young girl, an untouched virgin. But the cunning old lady quickly sent him an artful young slut. When the stranger found that he had been deceived, he cursed the old procuress and nailed her tongue to the front door. The procuress appears there till now with blood dripping from her mouth.
In a house in Prague's New Town, strange séances were held. At a long table sat shapes of a dozen of men and above every one of these doubles hang the man's own portrait. Meanwhile the bodies of the men were laying motionless in their beds. After some time the whole thing came into gossip. An unhappy wife of one of them noticed that her husband also looks like dead during the night. She asked him about this, but she didn't get a satisfactory answer. On the next occassion when he fell in a motionless sleep she went to that strange house to investigate the thing. There she found only eleven of the men, but her husband looked on her from the portrait on the wall. She rushed to the picture, smashed it and cut it with the knife. On her way back home she was surprised to find blood on her hands. When she opened the bedroom door upon her arrival, she saw a ghastly sight which deprived her of her wits forever. Her husband lay there on the floor cut with a knife and headless. Since then the wife appeares in the house and foretells bad news.
The old Jew Kalman had a beuatiful young daughter named Hanina. When she grew older her father chose her a rich bridegroom. But Hanina disliked him and kept on meeting a strange young man by the riverside. Once Kalman with the groom-to-be waited for them. They caught Hanina on her rendezvous and dragged her home. But she escaped them and ran back to the river after her lover. Meanwhile her lover got into a boat, put off the bank and in the middle of the river plunged into the water. Without hesitation Hanina walked into the river and went on and on into the deep water until she disappeared altogether. Her body was not found even after weeks and old Kalman was desperate. He lived in a small house near the river with his sister Shifra, a midwife, who helped him with the household. Often at night she saw a black cat with green eyes, gently weeping under their windows. One night someone knocked on Shifra's door to ask for her help. Shifra rushed out of the house and let the unknown lead her. They went to the river, got in a boat and rowed to the middle of the river. There the water opened and Shifra saw wide stairs. She descended the stairs and mer her niece Hanina, who became the waterman's wife. She also learned that when Hanina was missing human company, the waterman let her go on the bank in the shape of a big black cat with green eyes.
On Petřín, hill above Prague where once was a pagan grove, there appears from time to time a burning sacred fire and one can see in the flames the faces of dead pagan priests and weird event from ancient times. The woods in pagan grove were long ago cut down, but the fire still appears and vanishes and leaves no trace behind.
|14th December 2013 10PM JAZZ DOCK Prague||Janáčkovo nábřeží 2, Praha 5|
|personnel||Gary Lucas||g, voc.|
|Pat Fulgoni||voc, synth|
|Richard Mader||g, g-synth|
|Aleš Vejnar||analog synth ARP2600, Korg MS-20|
|Ondřej Smeykal||el. didgeridoo|
story: Marta Paduchová
producer: Richard Mader
firstname.lastname@example.org Prague Ghosts