Photo illustrating page  Czech Philharmonic Josef Špaček

Czech Philharmonic

Josef Špaček

Czech Philharmonic

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.

Subscription series C
Duration of the programme 1 hod 30 min

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter” K 551

Jiří Teml
The Labyrinth of Memory, a symphonic tableau (world premiere)

Dmitri Shostakovich
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77


Josef Špaček

James Gaffigan

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Josef Špaček
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
30 Apr 2020  Thursday — 10.00am Final rehearsal
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30 Apr 2020  Thursday — 7.30pm
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1 May 2020  Friday — 7.30pm
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2 May 2020  Saturday — 3.00pm
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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.


Josef Špaček  violin
Josef Špaček

violin, artistic director of the project

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 a 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 during the 2017/2018/2019 seasons include a return visit to the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc Albrecht, as well as debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Capitole de Toulouse and Thomas Søndergård, the Bamberger Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Maxim Emelyanchev, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Michael Sanderling, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Aziz Shokhakimov, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo and Tomáš Netopil, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Christian Vásquez, the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Daniel Blendulf and the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra and Lio Kuokman. He continues to appear as a soloist of the Czech Philharmonic for concerts, both in Prague and on tour, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, Jakub Hrůša and Thomas Adès.

Previous highlights include subscription concerts with the Czech Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a return visit to the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino and James Conlon, his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek, his Berlin debut with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Thomas Sanderling, his Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård, his Tokyo debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša and debuts with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Gerard Korsten, the Sønderjylland Symphony Orchestra and Johannes Wildner and the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Adrien Perruchon (recorded by Mezzo Live HD TV), as well as recital debuts in among others Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego.

In addition to the above-mentioned orchestras, Josef Špaček has appeared across Europe, the US and Asia with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The late Jiří Bělohlávek was an avid supporter of Josef Špaček and regularly invited him. Other conductors he works with include Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Asher Fisch, Valery Gergiev, Roy Goodman, Jakub Hrůša, Manfred Honeck, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Rossen Milanov, Tomáš Netopil, Thomas Sanderling and Thomas Søndergård.

Josef Špaček gives recitals and takes part in chamber music festivals in Europe (among others at the Rudolfinum in Prague, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Evian Festival, Kaposfest and Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (i.a., Kennedy Center, La Jolla, ChamberFest Cleveland and Nevada Chamber Music Festival).

Supraphon released a highly praised recording of the violin concertos by Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy by Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek (“Recording of the Week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the Month and of the Year” of MusicWeb International and 5* in Diapason), as well as a recital CD with 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, released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.

He has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history. The orchestra has 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.


James Gaffigan  conductor
James Gaffigan

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.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Symfonie č. 41 C dur „Jupiter“ K 551

Jiří Teml — Labyrint paměti, symfonický obraz (světová premiéra)

Dmitri Shostakovich — Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77

Dmitrij Šostakovič měl v řadách soudobých sovětských interpretů mnoho přátel, se kterými také těsně spolupracoval při uvádění svých děl. Patřil k nim např. dirigent Kirill Kondrašin, jenž premiéroval slavnou Čtvrtou symfonii c moll, violoncellista Mstislav Rostropovič pro nějž Šostakovič napsal dvojici koncertů pro violoncello a orchestr nebo houslista David Oistrach, jemuž jsou věnovány oba houslové koncerty. Koncert pro housle a orchestr č. 1 a moll op. 77 komponoval Šostakovič v letech 1947–1948. Do tvorby tohoto díla tak zasáhly nechvalně známé okolnosti prvního čtvrtletí roku 1948, kdy byl spolu s dalšími předními sovětskými skladateli z nejvyšších stranických míst tvrdě, avšak nespravedlivě kritizován a obviňován z modernismu a formalismu.

Dmitriji Šostakovičovi se však do značné míry podařilo situaci (vyvolanou Josifem Stalinem a jeho pravou rukou v kulturních záležitostech Andrejem Ždanovem) ustát a udržet si pozici „hlavního vývozního artiklu sovětské hudby“ do světa, a to včetně kapitalistického Západu. Proces očišťování byl však neobyčejně náročný a způsobil, že se První houslový koncert dočkal premiéry až po Stalinově smrti, sedm let od svého vzniku – 29. října 1955 s Davidem Oistrachem a Leningradskou filharmonií pod taktovkou Jevgenije Mravinského.

Sám skladatel o tomto díle napsal, že je to „svým charakterem v podstatě spíš symfonie pro sólové housle s orchestrem“. Virtuóz Oistrach se o skladbě vyslovil následovně: „Koncert je mimořádně zajímavým úkolem pro interpreta. Je to, chcete-li, velká, obsažná shakespearovská role, která vyžaduje od umělce velké emocionální a intelektuální vypětí a která skýtá obrovské možnosti nejen k demonstrování houslistovy virtuozity, ale především k vyjádření nejhlubších citů, myšlenek a nálad.“ A skutečně; jde o interpretačně mimořádně obtížné dílo, které je zároveň prosto obsahově prázdných virtuózních efektů. Jeho čtyři věty jsou kromě tempového označení pojmenovány také z hlediska své formy.

První částí je pomalé Nokturno. Po ponurém úvodu přednesou sólové housle hlavní téma celé věty, která je zkomponovaná v sonátové formě. V dalším průběhu úvodní části se pak sólový nástroj polyfonním způsobem proplétá s orchestrem. Následující Scherzo se vyznačuje pulzujícím rytmem. Dmitrij Šostakovič zde vůbec poprvé použil motiv d-es-c-h, které v několika pozdějších skladbách uplatnil jako svou značku (názvy tónů motivu jsou začátečními písmeny skladatelova jména a příjmení v německé transkripci – DSCH). V naší skladbě tato čtyřtónová hudební myšlenka zazní sice opakovaně, ale spíše nenápadně, navíc pouze v orchestrálním doprovodu.

Ústřední téma třetí věty pojmenované jako Passacaglia přednesou hned na jejím začátku violoncella s kontrabasy. Následný teskný zpěv houslí je náročný především na zachování předepsaných výrazových nuancí. Konec této části je tvořen rozsáhlou kadencí, v níž sólový nástroj mění náladu od melancholického pláče k neklidnému rozhořčení. Kadence ústí attaca do závěrečné věty, označené přiléhavě jako Burleska. Autor se zde inspiroval skotačivou rytmikou i melodikou lidových písní tzv. skomorochů, tj. dávných ruských potulných pěvců, herců a tanečníků.