Photo illustrating page  Czech Philharmonic Rudolf Buchbinder

Czech Philharmonic

Rudolf Buchbinder

Czech Philharmonic
Subscription series C
Duration of the programme 1 hod 30 min

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)                               

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 4 in G Major


Rudolf Buchbinder

Chen Reiss

Semyon Bychkov

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Rudolf Buchbinder
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
11 Jun 2020  Thursday — 7.30pm
12 Jun 2020  Friday — 7.30pm
13 Jun 2020  Saturday — 3.00pm

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Historical connections can sometimes be entertaining. In the scholarly literature, one reads that Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto was dedicated to a Habsburg named Rudolf. This building, the Rudolfinum, was also named for Rudolf. But make no mistake, one Rudolf is not to be confused with the other. Beethoven’s friend was Archduke Rudolf, to whom he also dedicated his great Archduke Trio, Op. 97, while “our” Rudolf was the crown prince seventy years later. Beethoven had given the premieres of all of his piano concertos, but by the time of the Emperor Concerto, he almost could not hear at all, unfortunately, so the part was entrusted to Friedrich Schneider in Leipzig and to Carl Czerny in Vienna. The composition is a culmination of the classical-era instrumental concerto while also throwing the door wide open to Romanticism.

Mahler’s Fourth Symphony concludes a tetralogy through which songs from the cycle The Youth’s Magic Horn run like a common thread. The preceding symphonies work with material from several of the songs, while the Fourth Symphony quotes only one, Das himmlische Leben (Heavenly Life). There are flashes of the song in various forms throughout the symphony, then it finally appears as a whole in the fourth movement. The title Das himmlische Leben comes directly from Mahler, and it captures a child’s idea of heaven. He had originally wanted to use the song in his Third Symphony, which contains quotes of it. Ultimately, however, he made Das himmlische Leben the focal point of his Fourth Symphony, with its breath of heavenly beauty, child-like purity, and deep peace.


Rudolf Buchbinder  piano
Rudolf Buchbinder

Rudolf Buchbinder is one of the legendary artists of our time. His piano playing is an unparalleled fusion of the authority of a career spanning more than 60 years with spirit and spontaneity. His renditions are celebrated worldwide for their intellectual depth and musical freedom.

Particularly his renditions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs works are considered to be exemplary. He has performed the 32 piano sonatas 60 times in cycles all over the world and developed the story of their interpretation over decades. He was the first pianist to play all Beethoven sonatas at the Salzburg Festival during a summer festival. A live recording is available on DVD.

On the occasion of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs 250th birthday in the 2019/2020 concert season, for the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna Musikverein is giving a single pianist, Rudolf Buchbinder, the honor of performing all five piano concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven in a specially edited cycle. Buchbinderʼs partners in this unprecedented constellation are the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Music Director Andris Nelsons, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden under their chief conductors Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev and Christian Thielemann.

Together with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, Rudolf Buchbinder returned to the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Philharmonie Luxembourg and the Carnegie Hall New York as part of a tour.

A première is the focus of the Beethoven Year 2020. Based on Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations Op. 120, Rudolf Buchbinder initiated a new cycle of variations on the same waltz by Anton Diabelli, which also forms the basis of Beethovenʼs epochal masterpiece. With Lera Auerbach, Brett Dean, Toshio Hosokawa, Christian Jost, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Krzysztof Penderecki, Max Richter, Rodion Shchedrin, Johannes Maria Staud, Tan Dun and Jörg Widmann, it was possible to win twelve leading contemporary composers of different generations and backgrounds. The New Diabelli Variations were commissioned by a variety of concert promoters worldwide and with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

The world première recording of the New Diabelli Variations marks the beginning of Rudolf Buchbinderʼs exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon. At the same time he also presents a new recording of Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations, which he last recorded in 1976.

Rudolf Buchbinder is an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the first soloist to be awarded the Golden Badge of Honor by the Staatskapelle Dresden.

Buchbinder attaches great importance to source research. His private music collection comprises 39 complete editions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs piano sonatas as well as an extensive archive of first prints, original editions and copies of the piano scores of both piano concertos by Johannes Brahms.

He has been the artistic director of the Grafenegg Festival since its foundation in 2007. Today, Grafenegg is one of the most influential orchestral festivals in Europe.

Two books by Rudolf Buchbinder have been published so far, his autobiography Da Capo and Mein Beethoven – Leben mit dem Meister. Numerous award-winning recordings on CD and DVD document his career.

For concert dates and further information please visit the homepage

Chen Reiss   soprano

Semyon Bychkov  conductor
Semyon Bychkov

Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov was born in Leningrad in 1952, immigrated to the United States in 1975, and has been based in Europe since the mid-1980s. Like the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the cultures both of the East and the West.

Following his early concerts with the Czech Philharmonic in 2013, Bychkov and the Orchestra devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies and studio recordings which allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together. Its first fruit was released by Decca in October 2016, followed in August 2017 by the release of the Manfred symphony. The project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Prague, Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.

Fourteen years after leaving the former Soviet Union, Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, the same year as he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. His international career had taken off several years earlier when a series of high-profile cancellations resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1997, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and the following year, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.

Bychkov conducts the major orchestras and at the major opera houses in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to his title with the Czech Philharmonic, he holds the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms, and the honorary Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. He was named “Conductor of the Year” at the 2015 International Opera Awards. On the concert platform, the combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy has ensured that Bychkov’s performances are highly anticipated. With repertoire that spans four centuries, the coming season brings two weeks of concerts with the New York Philharmonic, which includes the US première of Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2, and the Cleveland Orchestra where he will conduct Detlev Glanert, Martinů and Smetana. In Europe, his concerts include performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Royal Concertgebouw.

Bychkov’s recording career began in 1986 when he signed with Philips and began a significant collaboration which produced an extensive discography with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Subsequently a series of benchmark recordings – the result of his 13-year collaboration (1997–2010) with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne – include a complete cycle of Brahms’s Symphonies, and works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Detlev Glanert and York Höller. His recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year in 2010; and his recent recording of Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2 with the Vienna Philharmonic was selected as BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month.


Gustav Mahler — Symfonie č. 4 G dur
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Ludwig van Beethoven — 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) zanechal v oboru instrumentálních koncertů pět děl určených klavíru, jeden Houslový koncert a Trojkoncert pro klavír, housle a violoncello.  Rozličné skici a náčrtky však dokládají, že se tímto druhem zabýval dlouhá léta – posledním svědectvím je plánovaný, avšak opuštěný šestý klavírní koncert z roku 1815. Klavír byl pro Beethovena zásadním nástrojem. Sám byl ceněným klavíristou, podle stupňující se náročnosti jeho děl, klavíru určených, lze usuzovat i na rozvoj vlastní technické vyspělosti jako interpreta. Beethoven vyšel z Mozartova odkazu a dále jej rozvinul, a to především ve třech aspektech: ve způsobu prezentace sólového partu, ve snaze po myšlenkové jednotě uvnitř jednotlivých vět, usiloval také o jejich vzájemný vztah, a rozšířil užití harmonických prostředků.

Koncertu pro klavír a orchestr č. 5 Es dur například otevírá větu třikrát opakovaný, improvizačně působící úsek – akord Es dur v orchestru a rapsodická pasáž klavíru. Tento úvod utvrzuje hlavní tóninu, teprve poté nastupuje vlastní expozice, která prochází řadou harmonických modulací. Celá věta osciluje mezi durovým a mollovým tónorodem, střídání nálad je podporováno kontrastem tematického materiálu. Tehdejší posluchač, uvyklý konvenčním postupům, se musel ve zdánlivě nelogických harmonických spojích a nezávisle působících úsecích nejprve zorientovat. Druhá věta svou meditativní lyrikou už předjímá romantické období. Příkladem myšlenkového spojení mezi větami je vynoření tematického materiálu finální věty v závěru druhé věty. Závěrečná věta je připojena attacca, formálně se jedná o sonátové rondo, v jehož provedení opět Beethoven uplatnil originální harmonické řešení. Věta končí rozsáhlou kodou. Skladatel nenechává prostor pro obvyklé improvizované kadence, všechny pasáže jsou detailně vypsány. Tato důslednost se vykládá dvojím způsobem: dílo nebylo určeno pouze profesionálním klavíristům, nýbrž také pokročilým amatérům, k čemuž poukazují v partituře i alternativní, technicky méně náročná místa. Je to však také zároveň doklad uzavřenosti díla, které se nemělo stát předmětem interpretační libovůle.

Skladbabyla komponována roku 1809, dokončena v únoru 1810 a skladatel ji věnoval svému mecenáši a žáku, arcivévodovi Rudolfovi, příštímu arcibiskupu v Olomouci. Ještě téhož roku koncert vyšel tiskem v Londýně; přízvisko Emperor (Císařský) dodal dílu anglický vydavatel, snad s ohledem na majestátní charakter díla, ale i s poukazem na nositele dedikace, habsburského arcivévodu. Roku 1811 vydalo partituru také nakladatelství Breitkopf & Härtel v Lipsku, kde se v Gewandhausu uskutečnila 28. listopadu 1811 světová premiéra; sólistou byl Johann Christian Friedrich Schneider, později dvorní kapelník vévodství Anhalt-Dessau. Klavíristou vídeňské premiéry následujícího roku, 11. února 1812, byl Beethovenův žák Carl Czerny. Uskutečnila se současně s otevřením výtvarné výstavy, na níž byla prezentována mimo jiné díla Raffaelova. Menší ohlas Beethovenovy novinky ve Vídni než v Lipsku se vysvětluje právě tímto společenským rámcem – svým způsobem šlo o hudební doprovod vernisáže. Ve velice krátké době se však z celé pětice Beethovenových klavírních koncertů stal Koncert Es dur nejoblíbenějším.