HCA NEWS Václav Havel and Magdalena Kozená HCA Ambassadors

Václav Havel and Magdalena Kozená appointed as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors in the Czech Republic.

By ms - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 03 November 2004

On 3 November 2004, the former president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, and the world-famous Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená were appointed as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors at a ceremony at the Church of Saint Anna in Prague.

Former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen presided over the ceremony. As foreign minister, Mr Ellemann-Jensen helped forge close ties between Denmark and the Czech Republic. The Danish Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jørgen Bøjer, and the Royal Danish Embassy in Prague hosted the event in association with the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation.

Present at the ceremony was Secretary General of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, Lars Seeberg, who stated:

"We at the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation regard it as a major endorsement of the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen that former president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, and the world-famous Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená have taken on their assignments as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors. Václav Havel enjoys immense international recognition for his considerable contribution to the process of democratisation in his country, and Magdalena Kozená has enriched the world with her amazing interpretations of the great musical classics. With these Ambassadors, we have achieved two strong voices that will reach out to a wide audience carrying the message of the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary and the many projects involved in the celebrations."

Former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen states:
"When Václav Havel visited Copenhagen 13 and a half years ago to accept the Sonning prize he gave a speech where he took a close look on the nature of political leadership and the entrapments of political power. It was a most unusual speech and an eye-opener for a lot of people. In doing so Václav Havel played a role that was pure Andersen: That of the little boy in the emperor's new clothes."

Václav Havel states:
"When I learned that I would be appointed a Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador I recalled the very same fairytale that Uffe Ellemann-Jensen remembered. I was one of the few children that was allowed to call out that the emperor was naked, while our surroundings still pretended that the emperor was fully clothed or even thought so. But ours is a fairytale even better than Hans Christian Andersen because at a certain point everybody said it out loud and the emperor could then no longer travel in his "clothes". I am happy and honoured to receive this appointment."

The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are to help promote the wider awareness and appreciation of the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen in connection with the bicentenary of his birth. The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are all celebrated artists, politicians, journalists, businesspeople, and athletes from around the world that have been asked by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation to represent the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.

All Ambassadors are as Václav Havel and Magdalena Kozená highly respected within their field and acclaimed and credited for their contribution to the world. In the years following the 2005 bicentenary, the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors will represent the HCA-abc Foundation, which is a humanitarian foundation that addresses illiteracy worldwide in the name of Hans Christian Andersen.

Apart from speeches by Ambassador Jørgen Bøjer, Secretary General Lars Seeberg, Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, and former President Václav Havel the event also featured a reading of one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales, The Racers. The reading was performed by the highly esteemed Czech translator of Hans Christian Andersen, Frantisek Fröhlich.

The 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary will be celebrated with a range of different cultural events and initiatives in the Czech Republic. Among them is an international touring exhibition on the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen organised by the Odense City Museums in collaboration with the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. The international exhibition will be featured in more than 20 languages, including Czech. The exhibition relates the story of Hans Christian Andersen through photographs and documentation. The exhibition will tour the Czech Republic during 2005.

The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation has also initiated a worldwide educational project for children and the young. In cooperation with Centre for Children's Literature, the Foundation has produced inspiring educational resources about Hans Christian Andersen for schoolteachers who work with children in primary and secondary schools (approximately the age group of 6-16).

The educational resources will be available in numerous languages, including Czech, and consist of articles about Hans Christian Andersen's life, work, and the time he lived. The material is accompanied with a virtual exhibition, which together with the resources can be downloaded from the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 official website hca2005.com. All resources will be available free of charge. 

Václav Havel

Václav Havel was a leading figure in the "Velvet Revolution" in the Czech Republic in 1989. He was elected president of Czechoslovakia in December 1989. In January 1993, he became the first elected president of the newly established Czech Republic.

Václav Havel has played a pivotal role in the creation of the Czech Republic.
The former president is the recipient of numerous awards for his political achievements and commitment to humanity. In 1989, he was awarded The Olof Palme Prize, in 1990 The UNESCO Prize for the Teaching of Human Rights, and in 1991 The Sonning Prize, just to mention a few of the accolades the former president has received.

Furthermore, Václav Havel is honorary doctor of several universities around the world and is still an active advocate of human rights.

Magdalena Kozená

Magdalena Kozená was born in the Czech town of Brno. She was trained at the Brno Academy of Music and later by Eva Blahová at the College of Performing Arts of Bratislava where she completed her training in 1995.

Magdalena Kozená has received numerous national and international awards, including at the 6th International Mozart Competition in Salzburg in 1995. In 2003, she was awarded the honorary title of Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. She performed at the Vienna Volksoper in 1996/1997, and in 1998 she held her debut at the Drottningholm Festival in Sweden as Paride in Gluck Paride Ed Elena.

Magdalena Kozená's great talent has allowed her to perform in cities such as London, Brussels, Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Munich, Prague, Tokyo, Yokahama, and Sapporo. Furthermore, she has recorded many CDs. In the near future Magdalena Kozená will hold her first performance at the San Francisco Opera as Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte and as Varvara in Janacek's opera Katja Cabanova at the Metropolitan Opera. She will furthermore sing the title role in Cavallis' Calisto at the Bavarian State Opera.

Tour of the International Andersen Exhibition in the Czech Republic

5 April 2005, Prague: Official opening at Klementinum, Karlova 1

10 May - 3 June 2005, Brno: the KJM Library, Koblizna

2 - 26 November 2005, Ostrava: Ostrava Central Library, 28. Rijna 2

This is a preliminary schedule. More venues will be added later.