Michal Prokop

* 1946  

  • “People sat in the hall there. They received photocopied papers. On them were some staves and they were given tasks such as – write a c minor scale, a C7 chord, a folk song. We had to sing folk songs. These things obviously had nothing to do with our work. Those people who graduated from conservatory didn’t have to pass this test but the rest had to. Then there was the political interview and there they asked me what the word Monkada means to me. I recalled from my visit to Cuba along with Eva Pilarová that those were the barracks first assaulted by Fidel Castro. So I said it and that guy was completely thrilled. It was all banal, humiliating and completely disgusting.”

  • “So, in the meantime, I returned to Prague. Before that, the demonstrations at Wenceslas Square started taking place. On Monday there was an exchange. The Prague Cultural Center annually organized an exchange for promoters where various sorts of concerts and shows were presented and the promoters could see them and reserve them for themselves. It used to take place in the Municipal House, the then-seat of the Center. It was in Smetana’s hall where we reached an agreement to follow the Humenné model. We, as one of the promoted bands, started playing and after two songs said: ‘We are going on strike and will play no further.’ Now, there were some three or four hundred promoters from all around the country sitting in the Smeatana hall as we did this. At that moment it was all becoming clear. Even the comrades from the agency got the point and joined in instantly. We had the exchange practically cancelled.”

  • “I received an invitation to a gathering of artists held in the Musical Theater, in the name of socialist whatever… It looked the same as all the other invitations for trainings – it was something like political schooling in the course of military service. An invitation had arrived so I went there and saw all the people sitting there. It is not an easy thing to recall. But if I were to consider frankly what my biggest mistake in life was, it was the dissolution of Framus, rather than the signature of Anticharter. The dissolution had launched all this downturn leading all the way to Anticharter. That was only the last drop, only a part of all the shit I’d been in. True, it was a very ugly culmination, but it wasn’t just about it. It is not the only thing. Unfortunately.”

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    Praha, 14.03.2016

    (audio)
    délka: 04:15:22
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory of nations (in co-production with Czech television)
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You can only be successful in what you want to do and what you believe in

Prokop Michal – svatební foto 1972.jpg (historic)
Michal Prokop
zdroj: archiv pamětníka, natáčení ED 2016

Michal Prokop was born on 13 August 1946 in Prague. Unlike most of their Jewish relatives, his parents had survived imprisonment in the Terezín ghetto. Michal soon fell in love with music, especially classical jazz and black artists. He played guitar in a band he founded with his friends. In the late 1960s he began to sing and following a successful concert in 1967 turned into a professional musician. He had a star career with the band Framus Five but the tightening political landscape and changing conditions on the musical scene lead to the band‘s breakup. A highlight of this era was the album Město ER. Michal then began performing in pop music. However, the related environment and production got him down. The most notable moment of this unfortunate era was his signature of the so-called Anticharter. Ever since late 70s Michal Prokop had once again focused on his career, re-launching Framus 5. Three successful albums Kolej Yesterday, Nic ve zlým, nic v dobrým a Snad nám naše děti... published throughout the 1980s represent the peak of his career. In 1989 he signed a petition asking for the release of Václav Havel from prison, as well as the „Several Sentences“ manifesto. He was elected head of the strike committee of Czechoslovak popular music artists. In 1990 he had concluded his musical career and instead became involved full-time in politics as an MP in the Federal Assembly, elected on the Civic Forum ticket. Following its dissolution he became a member of Civic Democratic Alliance. He dealt mostly with cultural and social issues and for several years served as deputy minister of culture. He left politics in 1998. For three years he managed the project Prague - European Capital of Culture 2000. He moderated TV discussion shows Nic ve zlým and Krásný ztráty. He returned to performing in 1993. His last studio album was published in 2012.