Results of the Radio Prague Competition
438 Radio Prague listeners took part in the competition. The task was simple - to write a short text answering the question
It was very difficult to decide but the winner has finally been chosen - it
is . You can read her letter as well as
the runners-up on this page.
The prize for the winner is a week-long trip for two in the Czech Republic including free return flights.
The trip is sponsored by
Podebrady, and the flights are sponsored by Czech Airlines - At Home In The Skies. The runners-up will receive Radio Prague souvenirs.
You can find the details about the rules of the competition here.
Winner: Christine Nutall, Great Britain
"It was difficult to choose the Czech I consider to have made an impact on the world. Eventually, I selected a playwright. No, not Vaclav Havel,
the ex-Czech president and playwright! An understandable choice, given the remarkable recent history of the Czech Republic. I believe Aloys
Senfelder unwittingly had more effect on peoples' lives than Mr Havel ever did, although there is a tenuous link between the two men.
Born in Prague in 1771, Senfelder was a would-be-playwright. He could not publish his work because he couldn't afford to pay for the engraving
of the plates he needed to print his text! He tried to engrave the copper plates for himself. Poor Aloys should have stuck to writing, he was a bit
"ham fisted" and made many a slip!
It was a happy accident when his Mum popped her head around the door and asked him to make a note of the laundry list! He used the only
thing at hand, a pencil and a slab of limestone! When he tried to wash off the greasy pencil marks he noticed they resisted water.
His observation that water and oil were mutually repellent sparked Senfelder's imagination. He began experimenting with his ideas and eventually
developed the printing technique of lithography. Lithography was cheap, sensitive in reproducing the original and had no limit to the number of
impressions that it could make.
It was a revolution in print making! I think the importance of this development has always been overshadowed, by the reverence paid to
Gutenburg's invention of movable type!
Why do I feel so strongly that Aloys Senfelder was a Czech who made an impact on the world?
In these days of virtually instant communication and multimedia it is easy for us to forget that access to books, music, education and art was
limited by a shortage of inexpensive printed material.
This relatively cheap technique of lithographic printing meant books, sheet music, and pictures became more available worldwide. Many jobs were
created in the lithographic printing industry, which went through a period of expansion in Europe. The works of Czech philosophers such as
Komensky, musical scores from Dvorak for example became accessible to more people. Senfelder's lithographic printing had a global impact!
Lithographic printing became a means of artistic expression in its own right. Much of Alphonse Mucha's work was created for the lithographic
technique. This Czech artist's posters are familiar throughout the world!
On a personal note, many of my favourite childhood books bore the inscription "Printed in Czechoslovakia." From an early age I was filled with the
urge to find out what this mysterious sounding country could be like!
Naturally, techniques have developed but lithography is still one of the most versatile and popular methods of printmaking today.
Senfelder is a special Czech, an unsung hero! When he died in 1834 I like to think he was no longer a frustrated playwright. Full of creativity and
ingenuity, I hope he realised his invention of lithographic printing did have a significant impact on peoples' lives.
I like the way Senfelder unintentionally turned adversity into advantage.
Through his invention, perhaps Aloys Senfelder did enable Mr Havel and other playwrights and thinkers to reach a wider audience."
Joshua Perry, Great Britain
Alon Raab, USA
Kazunori Iwaguma, Japan
Elizabeth Delgatty, Canada
Greg MacDonald, Canada
Michael J. Ryan, Canada
Mary Lou Krenek, USA
Martin Gallas, USA
Eichoff Tanya, Canada
Jeffrey Zajac, USA