In August 2012 the Czech Philharmonic performed after more than 20 years inAustralia. With two sold-out concerts it took a part in the celebrations of the reopening of the Hamer Hall venue in Melbourne after its renovation. The first Czech orchestra was led by the current principal conductor of Prague Chamber Orchestra - Jakub Hrůša. The Australian audience enjoyed predominantly Czech repertoir and the performance of the leading Czech soloists - violinist Josef Špaček and bass singer Jan Martiník.
"With nearly all the music from the performers' homeland, the all-but-full houses were exposed to readings that could hardly be bettered (...) Josef Spacek, the orchestra's recently appointed young concertmaster, played an ardent solo in Suk's Fantasy in G minor, finding more than superficial virtuosity in its substance and making every note count in its episodic progress."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, 29 August 2012
<h3>26 August 2012 / MELBOURNE – Arts Centre / Hamer Hall</h3> <ul> <li>Bedřich Smetana: Overture to The Bartered Bride</li> <li>Josef Suk: Fantasie in G minor for Violin and Orchestra op. 24</li> <li>Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major op. 55 “Eroica”<br /><br /></li> </ul> <h3>27 August 2012 / MELBOURNE – Arts Centre / Hamer Hall</h3> <ul> <li>Leoš Janáček: Overture to From the House of the Dead</li> <li>Bohuslav Martinů: Memorial to Lidice</li> <li>Antonín Dvořák: Biblical Songs op. 99</li> <li>Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 6 in D major op. 60</li> </ul>
Young czech Bass Jan Martiník was born in 1983 in Ostrava where he studied on Janáček Conservatory and on the University of Ostrava.
2003 he won the International Singing Competition Antonín Dvořák in Karlovy Vary in the category Junior and was also rewarded with the second prize in the category “Lied”. Jan Martiník is laureate of the International Competition Jelena Obraztsova, where he won the special prize for the best Tchaikovsky romance. 2007 he was finalist in Placido Domingoʼs Competition “Operalia” and in 2009 in Cardiff Singer of the World, where he won the category “Song”.
From 2008 to 2011 Jan Martiník was a member of Komische Oper Berlin, where he sung roles including Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Colline (La bohème), Surin (Pique Dame) and Nachtwächter (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). In Volksoper Vienna he sung Betto (Gianni Schicchi). 2012/13 Jan Martiník is a member of Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin.
In concerts he was working with well-known orchestras such as Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Brimingham Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Kingʼs Consort.
Born in the Czech Republic and described by Gramophone as “on the verge of greatness”, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor Designate of the Bamberg Symphony, Permanent Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF – Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015.
He is a regular guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
Recent highlights have included Bohemian Legends and The Mighty Five – two major series specially devised for the Philharmonia Orchestra – and débuts with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, DSO Berlin, and Russian National Orchestra.
As a conductor of opera, he has been a regular guest with the Glyndebourne Festival since his début in 2008, conducting Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and serving as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour from 2010 to 2012. Elsewhere he has led productions for Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka), Finnish National Opera (Jenůfa), Royal Danish Theatre (Boris Godunov), and Prague National Theatre (The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka).
As a recording artist, he has released six discs for Supraphon including a live recording of Smetana’s Má vlast from the Prague Spring Festival. Other recordings include the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos with Nicola Benedetti and the Czech Philharmonic (Universal); live recordings of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Suk’s Asrael Symphony with TMSO for Octavia Records; and, as the first in a three-disc series for Pentatone with PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Dvořák and Lalo cello concertos with Johannes Moser. He will also embark on a new partnership in the coming seasons with Tudor and Bamberg Symphony.
Originally from Brno, Jakub Hrůša studied conducting with Jiří Bělohlávek at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he now lives with his wife and daughter. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle.
The first years of the nineteenth century represented a critical period in Ludwig van Beethoven’s artistic development. The creative energy that allowed Beethoven to overcome depression caused by incipient deafness was reflected in his Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 55 “Eroica”, whose originality and artistic ambition surpassed everything that he composed before.
The inspiration for the work was provided by the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, who embodied for Beethoven his own democratic and anti-monarchist ideals. When, however, Bonaparte had himself elected Emperor in November 1803, the disappointed Beethoven crossed out the dedication. The new dedicatee of the work was his patron, Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian von Lobkowicz, at whose chateau in Jezeří (Eisenberg) the work, which continued to carry the title Buonaparte, was first performed in summer 1804. When published in 1806, it was entitled Heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man. The first public performance was on 7 April 1805 at the Theater an der Wien.
Beethoven employed in Eroica a number of techniques and elements previously unusual in the symphonic genre, by the means of which he sought a tighter form for his symphony and a continuous gradation from the beginning to the end. These compositional devices later became the hallmarks of his style; most distinctive are the motivic interrelations among the various musical themes used in the individual movements and the elevation of the coda to a veritable climax of the movement in terms of its musical content. Indeed, in the Third Symphony the coda becomes the second development thanks to the richness of its thematic work and unexpected length. Beethoven also introduces development into movements that are not composed in sonata form: in the Funeral March, which replaces what is usually a slow movement, and in the Finale, a set of variations that also employs elements of the rondo form.
The second composition from Dvořák’s legacy to be heard tonight is Biblical Songs Op. 99, which came into being during his second year on the American continent. Dvořák was homesick, and so he sought solace in the Holy Scripture. In the beginning of March 1894 it got reflected in his work when in just three weeks he set to music David’s Book of Psalms in the Czech translation of the Bible of Kralice. Dvořák apparently worked with its edition of 1863, published on the occasion of “the millennial celebrations of the conversion of the Slavs to the Christian faith,” as stated in its subtitle. Dvořák mentioned “Ten songs after David’s Psalms from the Holy Bible” to Simrock for the first time in his letter from April 1894, followed by another letter in the same month in which Dvořák described Biblical Songs as the best thing he had hitherto created in this area. And he was right. In addition to Dvořák’s typical music, they consist of a number of elements occurring in his other compositions of his “American period”, including pentatonic scales or other interesting features characteristic of African-American music. In Biblical Songs Dvořák also masterfully coped with the problem of a song based on free, almost prosaic verse of the Psalms. The seemingly simple structure of individual songs surprises by original harmonies and remarkable vocal lines ranging from ascetically simple declamation of the text to a broad lyrical cantilena.
Although Bohuslav Martinůlived outside his homeland for most of his life, he was far from indifferent to the fate of Czechoslovakia, and was particularly concerned when the country was under threat during WWII. The Nazi extermination of the village of Lidice in June 1942 was a strong blow to the composer. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile suggested he write a work commemorating the tragedy, which Martinů began to sketch that summer. Thus a particularly distinctive piece of music for symphony orchestra started to come into being, entitled Memorial to Lidice H.296.
The composer completed the work on 3 August 1943 in Darien, Connecticut. He conceived it as a lament in one movement for the victims of the occupation. Its quiet, meditative tones, flowing in a broad melodic current, are an intense eight-minute remembrance of the Lidice event. Soft and subdued music transitions into a harshly painful cry in the french horns, leading to a quotation of the ‘fate motif’ from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – a motif imbued with extraordinary symbolic meaning during the war. Martinů wrote in his diary: “I do not want to excite the nerves, but to speak to the soul.” The first performance was on 28 October 1943 in Carnegie Hall at the occasion of the Czechoslovak Republic’s 25th anniversary, with Arthur Rodziński conducting the New York Philharmonic. A work much respected by the audience and critics alike, Memorial to Lidice was subsequently performed in other cities of the United States.
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