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The April programme of Series C opens with two composers associated with the city of Brno. Jan Novák was born in Nová Říše, but he received his musical education at the Brno Conservatoire.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Symphony in D Minor
Jiří Vodička violin
Tomáš Netopil conductor
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The April programme of Series C opens with two composers associated with the city of Brno. Jan Novák was born in Nová Říše, but he received his musical education at the Brno Conservatoire. He also dedicated his Philharmonic Dances to the Brno Philharmonic shortly after its founding and the work immediately became firmly entrenched in the orchestra’s repertoire. Novák was a pupil of Vilém Petrželka, Pavel Bořkovec, and Bohuslav Martinů. Besides classical works, he also wrote music for films including Kachyňa’s Coach to Vienna and Karel Zeman’s The Stolen Airship.
Brno native Erich Wolfgang Korngold was famous for film music. It even saved his life. At the request of the Warner Brothers film studio he travelled from Vienna to Hollywood in 1938, thereby escaping the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. He won an Oscar for his music to the film The Adventures of Robin Hood, which he composed after arriving in America. Korngold decided that he would only compose film music until the end of the war. His Violin Concerto was the first work he wrote after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. In the concerto there is a reflection of nostalgia for the Viennese “fin de siècle” and the work is dedicated to the widow of Korngold’s teacher, Alma Mahler.
César Franck wrote his only symphony just two years before his death, having been encouraged by the success of his Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra. In France in those days, the symphonic genre was regarded as German and after the première of the work, the French critics condemned the symphony as dull, gloomy, and clumsy. Just two years later, it was already one of the most famous symphonic compositions in the entire world.
Jiří Vodička, a concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, soloist and chamber musician, is one of the most prominent and most sought-after Czech violinists. He made a name for himself in childhood by winning prizes in many competitions such as the Jaroslav Kocian International Violin Competition, Prague Junior Note, and “Čírenie talentov” Competition in Slovakia. In 2002 he won first prize in the international violin competition Beethoven’s Hradec, and in the same year he was awarded a prize as the best pupil attending Václav Hudeček’s violin classes. He later performed with Hudeček in dozens of concerts throughout the Czech Republic. In 2004 he became the absolute winner of the International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists in Weimar, Germany. In 2008 he was awarded first and second prizes at the Young Concert Artist Competition, which took place in Leipzig, Germany and New York, USA, respectively. Jiří Vodička enrolled at the Institute of Art Studies at the University of Ostrava at the age of only 14. He studied there under Zdeněk Gola and graduated in 2007 with Master’s degree.
Jiří Vodička regularly performs as a soloist with many leading orchestras both in the Czech Republic (Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra) and abroad (Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen). For many years he has been a soloist of the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra of China. He collaborated with the recently deceased conductor Jiří Bělohlávek and continues to work with other prominent conductors such as Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Netopil and Semyon Bychkov.
In 2014 he recorded his debut solo album Violino Solo with Supraphon, featuring the most difficult compositions for solo violin. It received great critical acclaim in the Czech Republic and also abroad. Many of his concerts have been broadcast by Czech TV, Czech Radio as well as ARD broadcasting company of Germany.
As a chamber musician he performs with outstanding Czech pianists Martin Kasík, Ivo Kahánek, Ivan Klánský and Miroslav Sekera. In 2011 he was invited by the famous violinist Gidon Kremer to perform together with many world-famous musicians at his Kammermusikfest in Lockenhaus, Austria. He regularly appears at important festivals such as the Prague Spring, Janáček’s May, Hohenloher Kultursommer and the Choriner Musiksommer. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Smetana Trio, with whom he has recorded two CDs for Supraphon, which won the prestigious award of BBC Music Magazine and Diapason d’Or.
In 2015 Jiří Vodička became a concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic. He teaches at the Prague Conservatory and at the Ostrava University. He plays an Italian instrument made by Joseph Gagliano in 1774.
Tomáš Netopil took up the position of General Music Director of the Aalto Musiktheater and Philharmonie Essen at the start of 2013/2014.
In Summer 2018, Tomáš Netopil created the International Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž offering students both exceptional artistic tuition and the opportunity to meet and work with major international musicians. In Summer 2020, in association with the Dvořák Prague Festival, the Academy will establish the Dvořákova Praha Youth Philharmonic with musicians from conservatories and music academies, coached by principal players of the Czech Philharmonic. Tomáš Netopil has held a close relationship with the Dvořák Prague Festival for some time: in 2017/2018, he served as their Artist in Residence, opening the festival with Essen Philharmoniker and closing the festival with Dvořák’s Te Deum and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. This new undertaking will consolidate this relationship still further.
An inspirational force in Czech music, Tomáš Netopil also holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. He ended the 2018/2019 season with two programmes at the Kissinger Summer Festival with Leif Ove Andsnes and Truls Mörk, the first of which was broadcast live on Bavarian Radio. In early Spring 2018 he led the orchestra on an extensive UK tour, and conducted Má vlast in the opening concert of the 2018 Prague Spring Festival, which was televised live.
A regular guest with major opera houses, Netopil made his debut with Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden in 2008 and has subsequently conducted La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Juive, The Bartered Bride, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust for them. Following previous successes in Vienna Staatsoper, including most recently Idomeneo and Der Freischütz, he returns to the house this season for a new production of Leonore. He will also conduct Opera Národní divadlo Brno’s production of The Greek Passion. One of the highlights of last season was Katie Mitchell’s acclaimed production of Jenůfa for Netherlands Opera, featuring Annette Dasch, Hanna Schwarz and Evelyn Herlitzius.
On the concert platform, upcoming orchestral engagements include Orchestre National de France, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Montpellier, RAI Torino, Accademia di Santa Cecilia and Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. Highlights of recent seasons have included Zürich Tonhalle, as well as engagements with Orchestre de Paris, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo.
Tomáš Netopil’s discography for Supraphon includes Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass (the first ever recording of the original 1927 version), Dvořák’s complete cello works, Martinů’s Ariane and Double Concerto, and Smetana’s Má vlast with the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
From 2008–2012 Tomáš Netopil held the position of Music Director of the Prague National Theatre. Tomáš Netopil studied violin and conducting in his native Czech Republic, as well as at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm under the guidance of Professor Jorma Panula. In 2002 he won the 1st Sir Georg Solti Conductors Competition at the Alte Oper Frankfurt.