1968-51st Segment: “A Prayer for Marta”

In this series we present 100 songs which have gone down in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. On Czech Radio’s web pages you can find a poll, in which you can vote for the best hit from the past century. We look forward to your vote! We continue with the year 1968.

1968
The biggest event of 1968 was undoubtedly the Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in August.
On March 30th, Ludvík Svoboda was elected president of Czechoslovakia.
Gymnast Věra Čáslavská once again earned medals at the Olympics, this time in Mexico, but was denied gold. It is speculated that this was as a result of her open opposition to the Communist regime and Soviet invasion.
On October 2nd, tennis player and Wimbledon winner, Jana Novotná, was born.

The second half of the 1960's was a period of significant political and social change and a there are many successful songs from those years that are played to this day. The year 1968 is particularly important due to the manifestations carried out by popular Czechoslovak musicians in a spontaneous response to the development and rising pressure from the Kremlin.

In the days of uncertainty leading up to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August, composer Jindřich Brabec and lyricist Petr Rada wrote an unusual song. This was after they had already written the winning song “Cesta” or “Path” at the 1968 Bratislava Lyre Festival. They were then asked to create a song for the upcoming fall episode of the popular TV series “A Song for Rudolf III.”

Marta Kubišová in 'A Song for Rudolf III.', photo: Czech TelevisionMarta Kubišová in 'A Song for Rudolf III.', photo: Czech Television In response, Brabec and Rada wrote an atypical musical prayer based on a quote by Jan Ámos Komenský. Their composition was given to Mrs. Marta Kubišová, who first sang it on August 23rd, 1968 in a heartfelt improvisation accompanied by pianist Angelo Mikhajlov and drummer Karel Černoch.

It was first released as a single and later on the album Songs and Ballads in 1969. It was no longer allowed to be published in the new censored 1970 edition. “A Prayer for Marta” remains as a reflection of the unforgettable 1968 Prague Spring as well as the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

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