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Czech Philharmonic • Josef Špaček
This programme is framed by two of the major works in the history of music. Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is the composer’s last and longest symphony. Among musicians it is so beloved that conductors voted it the third most popular of all symphonies.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter” K 551
The Labyrinth of Memory, a symphonic tableau (world premiere)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
This programme is framed by two of the major works in the history of music. Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is the composer’s last and longest symphony. Among musicians it is so beloved that conductors voted it the third most popular of all symphonies. The Jupiter Symphony is the last of three great symphonies that Mozart composed in rapid succession in June and July 1788. The speed with which he composed the works and their formal interconnections led Nikolaus Harnoncourt to believe that Mozart had conceived them as a single whole. This hypothesis is supported by, among other things, the facts that the first movement of the Jupiter Symphony lacks the usual slow introduction and that its finale is unusually lengthy.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto fell victim to Zhdanov’s censorship, so the composer withheld it, and it was not premiered until seven years later. Meanwhile Shostakovich to continue working on the concerto with David Oistrakh, its dedicatee. The premiere with the Leningrad Philharmonic and Yevgeny Mravinsky was a definite success. The concerto contains references to Beethoven and Elgar along with the plentiful use of a motif based on Shostakovich’s name: DSCH (the German note names for d, e flat, c, and b natural). Another of the premieres of works written on commission for the Czech Philharmonic will feature the music of Jiří Teml, a popular and remarkably versatile composer and a Prague Spring laureate. His compositional style reflects the influence of Czech folk music.
Praised for his remarkable range of colours, his confident and concentrated stage presence, his virtuosity and technical poise as well as the beauty of his tone Josef Špaček has gradually emerged as one of the leading violinists of his generation. His performances of a wide range of repertoire demonstrate his “astonishing articulation and athleticism” (The Scotsman) and “a richness and piquancy of timbre.” (The Telegraph).
He appears with orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and many others, collaborating with eminent conductors such as Jakub Hrůša, Semyon Bychkov, Manfred Honeck, Valery Gergiev, Thomas Adès or Krzysztof Urbański.
He equally enjoys giving recitals and playing chamber music and is a regular guest at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe (among others at the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Kronberg Academy, the Evian Festival, the KaposFest and at Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (among others at Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; 92nd Street Y in New York; La Jolla in San Diego and the Nevada Chamber Music Festival). His chamber music partners include Gil Shaham, Kian Soltani, James Ehnes, Miroslav Sekera, Tomáš Jamník, Zoltán Fejérvári, Suzana Bartal and others.
Supraphon released a highly praised recording of the violin concertos of Dvořák and Janáček, coupled with the Fantasy of Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. The Sunday Times wrote: “The violinist’s individual, deeply considered and virtuosic account of Dvorak’s solo part is the highlight of this keenly conceived programme”, adding that “in this repertoire, Špaček is second to none today.” It was the “Recording of the week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the month & of the year” of MusicWeb International and it received 5* in Diapason. Other recordings to date are a recital disc with works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera (Supraphon), works for violin solo and violin and piano by H. W. Ernst (Naxos) and an early CD with the complete Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
Josef Špaček 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.
By the end of the 2019/20 season he served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history. The orchestra named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016.
Josef Špaček performs on the ca. 1732 “LeBrun; Bouthillard” Guarneri del Gesù violin, generously on loan from Ingles & Hayday. He lives in Prague with his wife and their three children. In his spare time he enjoys cycling.
Hailed for the natural ease of his conducting and the compelling insight of his musicianship, James Gaffigan continues to attract international attention and is one of the most outstanding young American conductors working today. In January 2010, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and in September 2013 he will take up the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra, Cologne. This newly created position includes both subscription concerts and regular opera productions with Opera Cologne.
In addition to these titled positions, James Gaffigan is in high demand working with leading orchestras and opera houses throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. In recent seasons, James Gaffigan’s guest engagements have included the Munich, London and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Dresden Staatskapelle, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra (Berlin), Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, RSO Berlin, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle, Bournemouth Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Leipzig and Stuttgart Radio Orchestras, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Qatar Philharmonic. In the States, he has worked with the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, San Francisco and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore and National Symphony Orchestras and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
This season, Mr Gaffigan will make his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphoniker, Orchestre de Paris, Oslo Philharmonic and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also return to the MDR Leipzig, Sydney Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras. In America, he returns to the New World Symphony and to Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston and Cincinnati.
As an opera conductor, James Gaffigan made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2011/12 conducting La Bohème and was immediately invited back to conduct Don Giovanni last season. Mr Gaffigan continues his relationship with the Glyndebourne Festival – in 2012, he conducted a production of La Cenerentola and returned for performances of Falstaff this summer 2013. He made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in 2005 conducting La Bohème. In the States, he has conducted Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival and The Marriage of Figaro at the Houston Opera.
Born in New York City in 1979, Mr. Gaffigan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he earned his Masters of Music in conducting. He was also chosen to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and was a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center.
In 2009, Mr Gaffigan completed a three-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas, led subscription concerts and was Artistic Director of the orchestra’s Summer festival. Prior to that appointment, he was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra where he worked under Music Director Franz Welser-Möst from 2003 through 2006. James Gaffiganʼs international career was launched when he was named a first prize winner at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. He lives in Lucerne with his wife, the writer Lee Taylor Gaffigan, and their daughter Sofia.
Symfonie č. 41 C dur „Jupiter“ K 551
Labyrint paměti, symfonický obraz (světová premiéra)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77