In April 2015, the Czech Philharmonic with the Chief Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek will tour six cities of the United Kingdom.
<h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.leedsconcertseason.com/MODULES/DIARY/LICS_DIARYmoduleASP/DIARYMOD_item.asp?type=All&itemid=2424" target="_blank">18. 4. 2015 / LEEDS / Leeds Town Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Slavonic Dance No. 2</em></li> <li>M. BRUCH: <em>Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.usherhall.co.uk/en-GB/shows/czech%20philharmonic%20-%20symphonies%20for%20sundays/info" target="_blank">19. 4. 2015 / EDINBURGH / Usher Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>B. SMETANA: <em>The Bartered Bride (Overture, "Furiant" and "Skočná")</em></li> <li>F. MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: <em>Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.trch.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=27728" target="_blank">21. 4. 2015 / NOTTINGHAM / Royal Concert Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>B. SMETANA: <em>The Bartered Bride (<em>Overture, "Furiant" and "Skočná")</em></em></li> <li>F. MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: <em>Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.colstonhall.org/shows/double-dvorak-czech-philharmonic-orchestra/" target="_blank">22. 4. 2015 / BRISTOL / Colston Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Slavonic Dance No. 2</em></li> <li>F. MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: <em>Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/whats-on/czech-philharmonic" target="_blank">23. 4. 2015 / BASINGSTOKE / The Anvil</a></h3> <ul> <li>B. SMETANA: <em>The Bartered Bride (<em>Overture, "Furiant" and "Skočná")</em></em></li> <li>F. MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: <em>Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://www.thsh.co.uk/event/czech-philharmonic-perform-mahler/" target="_blank">24. 4. 2015 / BIRMINGHAM / Symphony Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>M. BRUCH: <em>Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26</em></li> <li>G. MAHLER: <em>Symphony No. 2</em></li> </ul> <h3><a title="More info & tickets" href="http://saffronhall.com/events/czech-philharmonic-orchestra/" target="_blank">25. 4. 2015 / SAFFRON WALDEN / Saffron Hall</a></h3> <ul> <li>B. SMETANA: <em>The Bartered Bride (<em>Overture, "Furiant" and "Skočná")</em></em></li> <li>F. MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: <em>Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64</em></li> <li>R. V. WILLIAMS: <em>The Lark Ascending</em></li> <li>A. DVOŘÁK: <em>Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70</em></li> </ul> <p> </p> <ul> <li><strong>Josef ŠPAČEK</strong> – violin</li> <li><strong>Chloë HANSLIP</strong> – violin (Nottingham)</li> <li><strong>Sarah FOX</strong> – soprano</li> <li><strong>Jana HROCHOVÁ WALLINGEROVÁ</strong> – mezzo-soprano</li> <li><strong>Jiří BĚLOHLÁVEK</strong> – conductor</li> </ul>
Josef Špaček is fast emerging as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation. He studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
Highlights in 2016 include subscription concerts with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Valery Gergiev (Beethoven concerto), his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek (Dvořák concerto), his Berlin debut with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Thomas Sanderling (Beethoven concerto), his Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård (Nielsen concerto), his Tokyo debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša (Dvořák concerto) and the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Marco Angius (Brahms concerto), as well as recital debuts in among others Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego. He will also be the soloist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek during their Asia tour.
Josef Špaček has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history, until December 2015. The orchestra has named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016.
In addition to the afore-mentioned orchestras Josef Špaček makes solo appearances with orchestras across Europe, the US and Asia, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orchestre National de Belgique, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
He collaborates with conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Semyon Bychkov, Asher Fisch, Roy Goodman, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Thomas Søndergård, Thomas Sanderling, Giordano Bellincampi, Tomáš Netopil, Marco Angius and Rossen Milanov.
Josef Špaček gives numerous recitals in Europe (including at the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Konzerthaus in Vienna and at Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (among others at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego).
April 2015 saw the Supraphon CD release of his highly praised recording of the violin concertos of Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy of Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek (among others “Recording of the week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the month and of the year” of MusicWeb International and 5* in Diapason). In 2013 Supraphon released his recording of works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera. In 2010 he recorded works by H.W. Ernst for Naxos. His first CD, which was released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
Josef Špaček plays a violin made in 1855 in the workshop of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
The mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová (Wallingerová), née Štefáčková, studied at the Prague Conservatory with Jarmila Krásová, in 2001 taking private study with the soprano Natalia Romanová. In 1998 she came second at the Czech Conservatories Singing Contest.
In 2000 she was invited to join the opera company of the National Theatre in Brno. Guest performances have taken the young mezzo to a number of opera houses, such as Prague National Theatre, Prague State Opera, Plzeň, Ostrava, Olomouc, State Theatre Košice and Theatre Freiburg. Mrs Hrochová Wallingerováʼs concert activities are an essential part of her repertoire and have brought her together with some leading Czech orchestras. She works with conductors such as Serge Baudo, Gerd Albrecht, Ondrej Lenárd, Petr Altrichter, Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Hanus, Jiří Bělohlávek and others. She is a regular guest at opera houses and concert stages outside the Czech Republic (Japan, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Italy). In 2011 she sang the alt-solo in Dvořákʼs Requiem mass at a state funeral of Václav Havel. The Brno National Theatre awarded her with DIVA 2005, 2008 and 2010 Award. In 2012 and 2013 she was nominated for the Thalia award. In the years 2011 and 2015 she recorded CDs of songs by Bohuslav Martinů for Naxos Records.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
In his extensive oeuvre, consisting of nearly one hundred opuses, German composer Max Bruch developed the legacy of great masters of Romantic music, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Robert Schumann. A native of Cologne, he lived a long life and was considered an important figure not only as a conductor in a number of German and British cultural centers, but also as a teacher at the Berlin Academy in the years 1891–1910. Time, however, proved relentless, and soon almost all of Bruch’s music – perhaps with some exceptions in the composer’s homeland – fell into oblivion. At the same time it has to be admitted that Bruch had perfectly mastered the art of composing. The best proof of this are his violin concertos which have remained part of the musical life up to this day.
Especially Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G minor Op. 26 of 1866 has made Bruch into something more than just an encyclopedia item. In this concerto Bruch manifested substantial creative talent at the early stage of his career. It is a composition of great melodic richness, youthful enthusiasm and spontaneous musical expression. Like many other composers of the time, Bruch dedicated this concerto to the famous violinist Joseph Joachim, whose instrumental virtuosity directly provoked Bruch to compose a grandiose brilliant piece, in which the performer could show off the maximum range of his violin art. The solo part is so ample that Bruch did not consider it necessary to compose a cadenza.
Although Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) had begun his work on the Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection” in 1888, back when he was second Kapellmeister at the Opera in Leipzig, he only finished it in summer 1894. Full of enthusiasm, he played the first movement, Allegro maestoso (in which Titan, the hero of his first symphony, is borne to his grave) to Hans von Bülow, then conductor of Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, whose acquaintance he made in 1891 after he became the first Kapellmeister at the Hamburg Stadttheater. According to Josef Bohuslav Foerster, Mahler’s performance did not exactly turn out as expected: “Bülow allegedly kept stopping his ears and in the end had said: ‘If this is still music, then I do not understand music at all.’” However, Bülow respected Mahler highly as a conductor. He wrote to his daughter: “Recently I heard Siegfried conducted by him and felt deep admiration for the way in which – without a single orchestral rehearsal – he forced those rascals to dance to his tune.”
Although Mahler had a stronger position in Hamburg than in Budapest, his work in the theatre was making such demands on his time that it was almost two years before he could return to work on the Second Symphony, which he did during the theatre holidays in 1893. He spent the time in Steinbach am Attersee, near Salzburg and composed two movements: the second – a fervently lyrical Andante moderato in A-flat major, reminiscing of the blissful moments in the youth of the dead hero – and the third, In ruhig fliessender Bewegung, an instrumental treatment of the song St. Anthony of Padua’s Sermon to the Fish, composed a little earlier. In a letter of 17 February 1897 to the critic Arthur Seidl, Mahler wrote the following about the inception of the concluding fifth movement, which originally followed immediately after the third: “In the last movement of my Second I simply had to go through the whole of world literature, including the Bible, in search of the redeeming Word. The way in which I was inspired to do this is deeply significant and characteristic of the nature of artistic creation. I had long contemplated bringing in the choir in the last movement, and only the fear that it would be taken as a superficial imitation of Beethoven made me hesitate again and again. Then Bülow died [on 12 February 1894 in Cairo], and I went to the memorial service. The mood in which I sat and pondered on the departed was utterly in the spirit of what I was working on at the time. Then the choir, up in the organ-loft, intoned Klopstock’s Resurrection chorale. It flashed on me like lightning, and everything became plain and clear in my mind! It was the flash that all creative artists wait for – ‘conceiving by the Holy Ghost’!” Thus, the words of Klopstock’s ode penetrated deeply into Mahler’s heart, yet they provided inspiration rather than a model to follow closely, as the composer amended and enhanced the lyrics according to his own bent, changing even the message: resurrection is certain; we have not been born in vain; we have not suffered in vain…
With the spectacular concluding movement achieved, in which the composer supplemented the sound of the orchestra with bells, but also with offstage French horns, trumpets, and timpani, the symphony seemed complete. However, Mahler realised that the sudden transition from the hopeless mood of the third movement to the purifying finale unbalanced the work. From his 1892 cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, he chose the song Urlicht,turning it into an impressive section with an alto solo that conceptually and musically prepares the listener for the finale’s following attacca.
After a seven-year effort, Mahler finally finished the Second Symphony in July 1894. He first performed its opening three movements on 4 March 1895 in Berlin, where they were programmed thanks to Richard Strauss. The premiere of the complete work took place on 13 December, again in Berlin and conducted by the composer, but it took a long time before the public understood its greatness.
In Seventh Symphony in D minor the composer presents an unusually grim position of himself, which is difficult to explain by the “objective” reality of his contemporary living conditions. Dvořák composed it in 1884 on a commission from the London Philharmonic Society, whose honorary member he became thanks to the success of his oratorios in Britain. The premiere, which took place on 22 April 1885 in St. James’s Hall under his direction, was a huge success – the audience applauded after every movement.
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