“The area below the Ore Mountains (Krušné hory) has been heavily marked in the last two centuries by both surface and underground mining of brown coal. This mineral is its pride, salvation and curse. By the 1980s, the intense devastation of this once touchingly beautiful scenery had brought it to a state of ecological catastrophe of European dimensions. I grew up in this landscape – within view of the mines and abandoned villages intended for demolition. According to the plans at the time, the border of the mine was to approach our village only at some point in the distant future, somewhere around the year 2020…
The industrial age – periods of prosperity followed by periods of decay – replaced the link between the local inhabitants and the charming nature, developed over millennia. The local spa in Teplice, world-famous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was a favorite of the members of various royal, imperial and czarist dynasties, as well as Romantic artists. Ludwig van Beethoven also frequently returned to the Central Bohemian Highlands (České středohoří) and the Ore Mountains.
I am standing on the eastern outpost of a former mining tower near the power plant that heats the entire city by burning coal from around the district. I raise my hands to the heavens in the gesture of a conductor who wishes to set in motion one of Beethoven’s most famous compositions. The music of the Eroica pulses in my temples without the need for headphones. Despite the extent to which we have hurt this landscape, this region is still imbued with its spirit.
To the rhythm of the music, what is unleashed upon the landscape is not musical notes, but a ‘meteoritic swarm’ of caryopses of wheat and rye, which will fertilize the landscape once again after the archaic mining technologies are gone.”(ZK)
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