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In the music world, there have been polemical debates for years about how orchestras should plan their programming. The core of the dispute is over whether the programming directors or the performers should have the last word.
The Wandering of a Little Soul, Violin Concerto
Triptych, Op. 35
Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale ‘Saint Wenceslas’, Op. 35a
Legend of the Dead Victors, Op. 35b
Towards a New Life, Op. 35c
Richard III, Op. 11
Wallenstein’s Camp, Op. 14
Hakon Jarl, Op. 16
Jan Mráček violin
Jakub Hrůša conductor
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In the music world, there have been polemical debates for years about how orchestras should plan their programming. The core of the dispute is over whether the programming directors or the performers should have the last word. The programme of the fifth concert in Subscription Series B is an example of a programme put together by the conductor. He was guided by the sound effect of the compositions on the listeners and the core of the programme was determined by a long-term recording project. With Jakub Hrůša, the Czech Philharmonic is recording the complete orchestral works of Josef Suk, consisting of both large-scale and several shorter compositions, including the famous Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale 'St. Wenceslas' and the Sokol movement march Towards a New Life, with which Suk won an anonymous composition competition. Suk thus became the main composer of the evening and Jakub Hrůša was faced with the rather difficult task of building a logical yet musically attractive programme around Suk’s music.
Bedřich Smetana’s Swedish symphonic poems belong to his popular works and they are frequently performed abroad. The Suk as well as the Smetana triptych are also a clear demonstration of the characteristic features and stylistic differences of the two composers and they represent the best of Czech orchestral music. The number three, which accompanies us throughout the evening, also represents the three composers, opening with the youngest of them, Leoš Janáček, whose Violin Concerto will be played by Czech Philharmonic concertmaster Jan Mráček, winner of the Fritz Kreisler International Competition in Vienna.
The Czech violinist Jan Mráček was born in 1991 in Pilsen and began studying violin at the age of five with Magdaléna Micková. From 2003 he studied with Jiří Fišer, graduating with honors from the Prague Conservatory in 2013, and until recently at the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna under the guidance of the Vienna Symphony concertmaster Jan Pospíchal.
As a teenager he enjoyed his first major successes, winning numerous competitions, participating in the master classes of Maestro Václav Hudeček – the beginning of a long and fruitful association. He won the Czech National Conservatory Competition in 2008, the Hradec International Competition with the Dvořák concerto and the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009, was the youngest Laureate of the Prague Spring International Festival competition in 2010, and in 2011 he became the youngest soloist in the history of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2014 he was awarded first prize at Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition at the Vienna Konzerthaus. When the victory of Jan Mráček was confirmed, there was thunderous applause from the audience and the jury. The jury president announced, “Jan is a worthy winner. He has fascinated us from the first round. Not only with his technical skills, but also with his charisma on stage.”
Jan Mráček has performed as a soloist with the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra and Romanian Radio Symphony (both under Sascha Goetzel), Lappeenranta City Orchestra (Finland), Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK), Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and almost all Czech regional orchestras.
Jan Mráček had the honor of being invited by Maestro Jiří Bělohlávek to guest lead the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in their three concert residency at Vienna’s Musikverein, and the European Youth Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda and Xian Zhang on their 2015 summer tour.
In 2008 he joined the Lobkowicz Piano Trio, which was awarded first prize and the audience prize at the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Pörtschach, Austria in 2014. His recording of the Dvořák violin concerto and other works by this Czech composer under James Judd with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra was recently released on the Onyx label and has received excellent reviews.
In addition to his British debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in season 2017/2018 Jan Mráček made his American debut with the St Louis Symphony under Han-Na Chang, with the Symphony of Florida with James Judd, debuts in Dubai with the Vienna Concert Verein and in China with the Slovenian Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic under Manuel López-Gómez as well as recitals at festivals in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Greece. In April 2017 he made his Swiss debut with the Tchaikovsky concerto as an Orpheum Foundation soloist in Zurich’s Tonhalle with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Fedoseyev. In July 2017 he performed with the Asian Youth Orchestra in Tokyo. In November 2018, Jan Mráček played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Prague Symphony Orchestra again under the direction of Vladimir Fedoseyev.
Jan Mráček plays on a Carlo Fernando Landolfi violin, Milan 1758, generously loaned to him by Mr Peter Biddulph.
Born in the Czech Republic, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic.
He is a frequent guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras, and in the 2018/19 season made debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and NHK Symphony, to all of which he was immediately re-invited. In addition to his titled positions he also enjoys close relationships with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Radio Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The 2019/20 season will see him return to the Berlin Philharmonic and make debuts with The Pittsburgh Symphony, Zurich Opera (a new production of the The Makropulos Case) and the Dutch National Opera (a new production for the Holland Festival of Rusalka with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra). In summer 2020, he will also return to The Glyndebourne Festival to conduct The Rake’s Progress.
His relationships with leading vocal and instrumental soloists have included collaborations in recent seasons with Behzod Abduraimov, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Renaud Capuçon, Isabelle Faust, Bernarda Fink, Martin Fröst, Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang, Sol Gabetta, Véronique Gens, Christian Gerhaher, Kirill Gerstein, Vadim Gluzman, Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, Hilary Hahn, Barbara Hannigan, Alina Ibragimova, Janine Jansen, Karita Mattila, Leonidas Kavakos, Sergey Khachatryan, Denis Kozhukhin, Lang Lang, Igor Levit, Jan Lisiecki, Albrecht Mayer, Johannes Moser, Viktoria Mullova, Anne Sofie Mutter, Kristine Opolais, Stephanie d’Oustrac, Emmanuel Pahud, Olga Peretyatko, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Josef Špaček, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Daniil Trifonov, Simon Trpčeski, Mitsuko Uchida, Klaus Florian Vogt, Yuja Wang, Frank Peter Zimmermann and Nikolaj Znaider.
As a conductor of opera, he has been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival, conducting Vanessa, The Cunning Little Vixen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and serving as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years. Elsewhere he has led productions for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Carmen), Vienna State Opera (a new production of The Makropulos Case), Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka and The Merry Widow), Frankfurt Opera (Il trittico) and Zurich Opera (Makropulos Case), among others.
As a recording artist, his most recent releases are the first two instalments of a new cycle of Dvořák and Brahms Symphonies, and Smetana’s Má vlast with Bamberg Symphony (Tudor). Other releases have included Concertos for Orchestra by Bartók and Kodály with RSB Berlin (Pentatone). He has also recorded Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Suk’s Asrael Symphony with Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Octavia Records); the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos with Nicola Benedetti and the Czech Philharmonic (Universal); and nine discs (with Pentatone and Supraphon) of Czech repertoire with PKF-Prague Philharmonia, where he was Music Director from 2009 until 2015.
Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where his teachers included Jiří Bělohlávek. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle and The Dvořák Society, and in was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize.
Podobně jako programní symfonie Dunaj, zůstal také houslový koncert „Putování dušičky“ (jiné dílo Janáčkova vrcholného období) nedokončen. V obou skladbách se Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) obrátil k velkým orchestrálním žánrům 19. století, jimž se předtím celý život vyhýbal; daný žánr v nich však pojal tak svébytným způsobem, že je proto řadíme mezi nejoriginálnější plody hudebního myšlení první poloviny 20. století. Na základě skladatelových náčrtů koncert v roce 1988 rekonstruovali muzikologové Miloš Štědroň a Leoš Faltus.
Autorský obsahový záměr skladby (koncentrované do jediné věty) vysvítá z několika indicií obsažených v rukopisných skicách, a můžeme jej snad vyjádřit jako přemisťování se duše skrze různé lidské (nebo vůbec živé) bytosti a tím je posvěcující, coby ona Dostojevského „jiskra boží“. Životní zkušenost několika setkání se smrtí – především milované dcery Olgy – se prolíná s upnutím se na vidinu věčného života, jíž mu ztělesňuje mladá Kamila Stösslová (obě zmíněné ženy důvěrně oslovoval „dušičko“), a zřejmě ji rozdmýchává pohled do tváře umírajícího člověka během londýnských demonstrací…
Janáček začal na skladbě pracovat v roce 1927, zakrátko však ideu koncertu opustil a část zkomponovaného materiálu použil pro operu Z mrtvého domu. Instrumentačním specifikem Janáčkovy pozdní tvorby jsou mj. akordické tympány exponované v samém úvodu skladby; zvuk okovů v jejím závěru snad reprezentuje osvobozování se duše ze zajetí lidského těla.