Photo illustrating page  Czech Philharmonic Radek Baborák

Radek Baborák

Czech Philharmonic

Czech Philharmonic
Subscription series B
Duration of the programme 1 hod 45 min

Bohuslav Martinů
Symphony No. 4 H305

Richard Strauss
Horn Concerto No. 2 in E Flat Major

Leoš Janáček


Radek Baborák
French horn

Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band

Jiří Bělohlávek

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Radek Baborák Czech Philharmonic
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall

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Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band  
Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band

Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band is a large brass orchestra which has been representing Czech musical culture in a highly professional fashion for more than sixty years, not only at home, but also abroad. Its establishment in 1945 carried on a rich tradition of military, police and gendarme bands from the First Czechoslovak Republic. They were ensembles which were always an integral part of our musical culture and also an example of the nation’s musical development.

The primary duties of the Band of the Castle Guards and Police of the Czech Republic include musical accompaniment at all state ceremonies at Prague Castle, primarily state visits and initial audiences with ambassadors. The orchestra is a significant cultural representative of the Police of the Czech Republic and also performs all tasks resulting from this position.

The ensemble also includes smaller groups – the Domino Brass Trio, the Prague Brass Sextet, The Brass Quintet, the Brass Octet, the Big Band, Largo and the Formanka Small Brass Orchestra. Their focus and repertoire suitably supplement the orchestra’s wide range of activities. In addition to its duties, the orchestra has always given concerts and made recordings. It has made more than twenty CDs. The orchestra’s most important annual concert activities include performing at the Prague Spring International Music Festival and during the Saint Wenceslas celebrations.

Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band has toured sixteen countries in Europe, Mongolia, Japan and the USA, where it headlined at the famous Carnegie Hall in 2002.

Jiří Bělohlávek  conductor
Jiří Bělohlávek

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.

Radek Baborák  French horn
Radek Baborák

The horn player and conductor Radek Baborák is one of the most outstanding figures on the classical music scene. Since beginning his solo career over twenty-five years ago, his extraordinary musical performances have enthralled audiences in the most important cultural venues around the world. He has collaborated with many distinguished conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Neeme Järvi, James Levine, Vladimir Askhenazy, James de Priest and Marek Janowski.

Baborák is a regular guest at prestigious festivals such as the Salzburger Osterfestspiele; Maggio musicale, Fiorentino; the White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg; International Music Festival, Utrecht; Julian Rachlin and Friends, Dubrovník; Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival and Prague Spring.

His concerts have been broadcast by television and radio stations including Euro Arts, BR, ARD, NHK, ČT, RTVE and he has made recordings for EMI, Supraphon, Exton, Arte Nova, Artesmon and Animal Music.

Radek Baborák has performed as a soloist with the following orchestras: the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Bach Akademie Stuttgart, Radio France Lyon, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Geneva, Philharmonique de Strassbourg, Finnish Radio Orchestra Helsinki, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Philhramonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna, Mozarteum Salzburg, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Mito Chamber Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, RTVE Orchestra Madrid and Arthur Rubinstein Lodz Philharmonic.

Baborák is especially popular in Japan; since 1994 he has been on regular tours in the country. Over a period of ten years, Baborák has recorded more than twenty CDs for the Japanese label Octavia Records (Exton, Cryston).

An essential part of Radek Baborák’s musical life is chamber music. He founded and has been the leader of several ensembles: the Baborák Ensemble; the Czech Horn Chorus, which continues the 300 year-old tradition of horn playing in the Czech lands; and the Prague Chamber Soloists. He is a member of the Afflatus Quintet. Baborák plays in recitals with the pianist Yoko Kukuchi, with the organist Aleš Bárta and the harpist Jana Boušková. He is a member of Berlin-Munich-Vienna Octet and collaborates with the Berlin Baroque Soloists. As a chamber musician he is regularly invited to perform with outstanding musicians and personalities.

Radek Baborák had been a senior lecturer at the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma and holds the position of a guest professor at TOHO University Tokyo, Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia and teaches at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Prague. He has led horn courses in Germany and Switzerland.

Radek Baborák was born in Pardubice in 1976. During his studies at the Prague Conservatory (1990–1994) he won competitions in Geneva in 1993, Markneukirchen in 1994 and ARD in Munich in 1994. In 1995 he was awarded the Grammy Award Classic and the Dawidov Prize.

At the age of eighteen Baborák was appointed principal horn with the Czech Philharmonic, and he remained in this position for two years. In 1996–2000 he was principal horn with the Munich Philharmonic. In 2001 he signed an exclusive contract with the Bamberg Symphony. Baborák’s position with the Berlin Philharmonic in the years 2003–2010 represents the last chapter of his career as an orchestra player.


Bohuslav Martinů — Symfonie č. 4 H 305

Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959) získal v roce 1923 stipendium československého ministerstva školství ke studiu skladby u Alberta Roussela v Paříži. Opustil tak svou vlast, do které se už nikdy natrvalo nevrátil. V Paříži na něj mohutně zapůsobila tvůrčí atmosféra tehdejší kulturní evropské metropole, zejména však jazz, hudební poetika Pařížské šestky a také ohlasy spolupráce Igora Stravinského s Ďagilevovým ruským baletním souborem, jehož vystoupení měl možnost shlédnout již v roce 1914 u příležitosti jejich pražského zájezdu.

V meziválečné době se Martinů o prázdninách ještě vracíval do rodné Poličky, kde také hojně komponoval. Poté, co nacistická vojska obsadila Paříž, byl nucen uprchnout přes Portugalsko do Spojených států amerických, kde na několik dalších let našel nový domov. Po roce 1948 už nebylo možné vrátit se do Československa, a tak Martinů žil od roku 1953 střídavě ve Francii, v Itálii a nakonec ve Švýcarsku, kde zemřel.

Komponování symfonií se dlouho vyhýbal. V pařížském hudebním prostředí dvacátých a třicátých let minulého století byla totiž tato forma považována za romantický přežitek a zdejší skladatelé se spíše snažili psát pro méně obvyklá nástrojová uskupení. Teprve v Americe složil dvaapadesátiletý Martinů svou první symfonii a od té doby se k této formě takřka každoročně vracel. Z celkově šesti symfonických skladeb zůstává nejoblíbenější a nejhranější jeho Symfonie č. 4. Martinů ji komponoval v jarních měsících roku 1945 plný radosti a optimismu z končících válečných útrap a v naději, že se brzy vrátí do své vlasti, kde pro něj bylo připraveno profesorské místo na mistrovské škole pražské konzervatoře. Byl přesvědčen, že jde o poslední velkou skladbu amerického exilu a že je jeho návrat do Československa nadosah. Další události však bohužel ukázaly, že tato očekávání byla marná.

Radostná první věta Poco moderato svou dvoudílnou stavbou připomíná strukturní řešení barokních suit. Její motivická práce a harmonické postupy jsou však barokní hudbě značně vzdáleny a stojí oběma nohama v hájemství soudobé tvorby. Druhá věta ve formě dravého tanečního scherza s kontrastním lyrickým středním dílem je vystřídána snově procítěným Largem. Optimistické vyznění celé symfonie podtrhuje závěrečné Poco allegro. Světová premiéra Čtvrté symfonie Bohuslava Martinů se uskutečnila 30. listopadu 1945 ve Filadelfii; o necelý rok později byla provedena Českou filharmonií za řízení Rafaela Kubelíka.

Leoš Janáček — Sinfonietta

Janáček had to wait sixty-two years for his first major success as a composer – in music history, one can hardly find a similar case of a composer’s career blooming so late. No one would dare call into question Janáček’s late works, as was done in Smetana’s case. The Great War meant the end of the Old World and its sophisticated cultural elite. The world had changed, and this was also reflected in the arts, including music. While most composers (often far younger than Janáček) were unwilling or unable to adapt their works to the spirit of the new era, Janáček bloomed like a rose of Jericho.

He became the pride of the Czechoslovak Republic, and in the course of just under a decade, he churned out his masterpieces – Taras Bulba, Sinfonietta, The Diary of One Who Disappeared, the two string quartets, the Glagolitic Mass, the Concertino for piano and chamber ensemble, and the Capriccio for piano (left hand) and wind ensemble. This is no mere listing of compositions; these works belong to the worldwide twentieth-century concert repertoire. Following the success of his long rejected opera Jenůfa, in just seven years he wrote four more operas – Káťa Kabanová, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Affair, and From the House of the Dead. They have all entered the standard repertoire on stages around the world. Janáček still remains the most frequently performed Czech opera composer abroad.

“I have arrived here with the youthful spirit of our republic, with youthful music. I am not one of those who look back; rather I prefer to look forward”, said Janáček in England in April 1926 when he was composing the Sinfonietta. And the Sinfonietta is a truly perfect combination of everything for which a citizen of the First Czechoslovak Republic was striving: the glory of the nation, the development of the Sokol movement, and the security of the republic. After the Prague premiere, in the newspaper Lidové noviny Boleslav Vomáčka described the composing of the Sinfonietta on the basis of information he had received directly from Janáček: the composer is said to have gone with misgivings to hear fanfares “of a kind he had never heard before” played by a brass band of soldiers in “historical costumes” in the South Bohemian town of Písek. The experience was brought back to his mind by the newspaper Lidové noviny, which asked him to “write ‘a few notes’ on their behalf for a Sokol ceremony”. Janáček thought it over only briefly, “then the idea flashed into his mind: Sokol members – red shirts – fanfares! And he immediately sketched out some fanfares, but from them, the music suddenly began to grow, movement by movement, until after the short period of just three weeks, the maestro had before him the finished score of the Sinfonietta.” Music for a special occasion thus gave rise to a great work that has enormously enriched the Czech symphonic repertoire.

Richard Strauss — Koncert pro lesní roh č. 2 Es dur

Německý skladatel a dirigent Richard Strauss řadu let působil jako intendant a dirigent v několika německých operních domech i ve Vídni a byl ve své době považován za skvělého operního, ale i symfonického interpreta. Coby skladatel proslul především jako autor programních symfonií, symfonických básní a patnácti oper. Dodnes jsou populární také jeho písně, kterých napsal přibližně 150.

Strauss měl již od dětství velmi blízko k lesnímu rohu; jeho otec byl totiž vynikajícím hráčem na tento nástroj, působil v orchestru mnichovské dvorní opery a pro lesní roh také komponoval. Richard Strauss napsal pro hornu několik komorních skladeb a především dva koncerty. Není bez zajímavosti, že obě tato díla jsou psána v tónině Es dur a vzhledem k datu vzniku je od sebe dělí téměř 60 let. Koncert pro lesní roh a orchestr č. 2 byl komponován roku 1942, tedy v době, která nebyla v Evropě (a v Německu obzvlášť) pro mnohé ani zdaleka jednoduchá. Strauss nebyl žádným aktivním bojovníkem proti nacismu a považoval se za zcela apolitického umělce. Jelikož nenásledoval mnohé své kolegy a z Německa neemigroval, musel se s národně-socialistickým režimem potýkat, a to zejména tehdy, kdy se před ním snažil bránit svou snachu i spolupracovníky, kteří byli židovského původu.

Brzy po nástupu Adolfa Hitlera k moci v roce 1933 byl ovšem bez vlastního přičinění ministrem nacistické propagandy Josephem Goebelsem jmenován do čela Říšské hudební komory, která měla podporovat rasově čistou německou hudbu. Strauss se ale své funkce brzy vzdal. Toto jeho epizodní angažmá však mělo za následek, že byl po válce v rámci denacifikace důkladně prověřován.

Druhý hornový koncert začíná poněkud netradičně fanfárovou kadencí sólového nástroje. Další průběh první části Allegro nám svou lehkostí a srozumitelností (zejména v orchestru, v němž dominují smyčce) připomíná instrumentální koncerty Straussova oblíbence Mozarta. První věta ústí attaca do lyrické střední části Andante, pro kterou jsou charakteristické intonačně náročné dlouhé tóny lesního rohu. Závěrečné rondo, opět v tempu Allegro, prověří instrumentální zdatnost sólového hráče naopak v krátkých tónech hraných v rychlých sledech. Premiéra této skladby se uskutečnila 11. srpna 1943 na Salcburském festivalu s Vídeňskými filharmoniky a Gottfiedem Freibergem na postu sólisty.