Photo illustrating page  Special Forenoon New Years´s Eve Dress Rehearsal Czech Philharmonic

Czech Philharmonic • Special Forenoon New Years´s Eve Dress Rehearsal


Czech Philharmonic

This time, our annual shared musical welcoming in of the New Year will also be a birthday celebration. On 4 January 2021 it will have been 125 years since the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic first gathered on the stage of the Dvořák Hall under the baton of AntonínDvořák.

Duration of the programme 2 hod

Programme

Julius Fučík
Entry of the Gladiators, march, Op. 68

Julius Fučík
The Grouchy Old Bear, polka for bassoon and orchestra, Op. 210

Josef Suk
Playing at Swans and Peacocks, 2nd movement of A Fairy Tale, Op. 16

Václav Trojan
The Frog from music for the fairytale The Emperor’s Nightingale

Oskar Nedbal
Cavalier Waltz from the operetta Polish Blood

Václav Vačkář
Memories of Zbiroh

Julius Fučík
Winter Storms Waltz, Op. 184

Bedřich Smetana
The Kiss, overture to the opera

Jan Kučera
Concerto grosso for two violins, cello and orchestra (world première)

Antonín Dvořák
Polonaise from Act II of the opera Rusalka, Op. 114

Antonín Dvořák
Rondo in G Minor, Op. 94 for cello and orchestra

Bedřich Smetana
Skočná (Dance of the Comedians) from the opera The Bartered Bride

Antonín Dvořák
Slavonic Dance No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 46

Antonín Dvořák
Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46

Performers

Jiří Vodička violin
Jan Mráček violin
Václav Petr cello

Robert Kozánek trombone
Ondřej Roskovec bassoon
Jaroslav Halíř trumpet

Tomáš Netopil conductor

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Special Forenoon New Years´s Eve Dress Rehearsal

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

31 Dec 2020  Thursday 11.00am
Cancelled
Price from 100 to 1200 Kč

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Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.:  +420 227 059 227

E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer Service office hours are on weekdays from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. July, August from 09:00 a.m. to 03:00 p.m.

This time, our annual shared musical welcoming in of the New Year will also be a birthday celebration. On 4 January 2021 it will have been 125 years since the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic first gathered on the stage of the Dvořák Hall under the baton of Antonín Dvořák. In the course of one and a quarter century, the leading Czech orchestra has undergone an initial struggle to maintain its existence, has grown artistically, and over the following decades has fulfilled one of its greatest goals by performing before capacity audiences in prestigious concert halls around the world.

We have decided to celebrate the New Yearand this major anniversary“in dance rhythm”with works exclusively by Czech composers. Their music will give each instrumental group and their principal players including the concertmasters a chance to shine. There will be selections from Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Suk’s stylised polka from the second movement of A Fairy Tale, Op. 16, Smetana’s overture to the opera The Kiss, and a popular piece by Václav Trojan titled The Frog. The music of Dvořák’s pupil Oskar Nedbal will not be overlooked, either – a conductor, composer, and violist, Nedbal was an important figure in the European musical circles of his day. He had a major influence over the Czech Philharmonic’s artistic development, and he also led the orchestra out of financial difficulties. 24 December 2020 will be the 90th anniversary of his death. We will also be hearing the Cavalier Waltz from Nedbal’s operetta Polish Blood. We will also remember the music of another of Dvořák’s pupils, Julius Fučík, who dedicated pieces to the Czech Philharmonic including the march Sempre avanti!

For the occasion of the Czech Philharmonic jubilee, Jan Kučera has composed a Concerto grosso for two violins, cello and orchestra. The concertmasters Jiří Vodička, Jan Mráček, and Václav Petr will be featured in the world première of Kučera’s concerto.

Concert is organised by the Czech Philharmonic in cooperation with Impresario – Czech Artist Agency.

Performers

Jan Mráček  violin
Jan Mráček

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.

Jiří Vodička  violin
Jiří Vodička

JIŘÍ VODIČKA
violin

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.

Václav Petr  violoncello
Václav Petr

Born in 1989 in Prague, Václav Petr began playing the cello at the age of four under the guidance of Mirko Škampa. In 2008 he graduated from the Jan Neruda Grammar School of Music in Prague. While still a student, he received several accolades at both Czech and international competitions, including 2nd prizes at the international cello competitions in Ústí nad Orlicí (2001) and Liezen, Austria (2002). In 2004 he won 1st prize and a number of other awards at Prague Junior Note and in 2005 was overall winner of Talents for Europe.

Moreover, he garnered success at the Concertino Praga radio competition (2007), the David Popper International Cello Competition in Budapest (2007), the Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Zagreb (2008), the Bohuslav Martinů International Cello Competition in Prague (2008, 2012), the Johann Friedrich Dotzauer International Competition in Dresden (2009), the Rudolf Matz International Competition in Dubrovnik (2010), and other competitions. In 2010, on the basis of a DVD recording, he was chosen to be one of the 12 participants of the Grand Prix Emanuel Feurmann in Berlin.

At the age of twelve, Václav Petr had his first solo performance with an orchestra. In 2004, 2006 and 2008 he appeared as a soloist at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague, accompanied by the PKF – Prague Philharmonia within the “Josef Suk Presents Young Talents” cycle. He has also performed abroad, in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Croatia and other countries.

In 2008 and 2010 he attended master classes in Kronberg, studying with Anner Bylsma and David Geringas. In 2009 he received a scholarship for Jens Peter Maintz’s summer master classes in Hamburg. On the basis of a recording, he was selected to participate in the 2010 European Music Academy in Bonn, guided by Wolfgang Boettcher, who also taught him in July of the same year at the 40th International Master Classes in Vaduz. In 2010 he was selected to join Marie Kliegel’s class within the Holland Music Sessions.

Václav Petr is also an active chamber player. Since 2009 he has been a member of Ensemble Taras (formerly the Taras Piano Trio), with whom in 2010 he won 1st prize at the international music competition in Val Tidone, Italy. In 2012, he and the violinist Radim Kresta (as a violin-cello duo) came third in the Salieri-Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition and a year later (as a piano quartet, with the violist Eva Krestová and the pianist Václav Mácha) they won the competition. In 2013 the quartet won the prestigious Premio Trio di Trieste, which resulted in their being afforded the opportunity to record a CD and DVD and tour Europe and the USA.

Since 2008 Václav Petr has studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (starting in the class of Daniel Veis and since 2011 continuing to hone his skills with Michal Kaňka). In 2010 and 2011 he studied within the Erasmus program at the Universität der Künste in Berlin with Wolfgang Boettcher. Since January 2014 he has been a concert master of the Czech Philharmonic orchestra.

Robert Kozánek  trombone
Robert Kozánek

He studied at the P. J. Vejvanovský Conservatory in Kroměříž (Czech Republic) and graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 2002. He attended Professor Michel Becquet’s masterclass organised by the Czech-French Academy of Music in Telč (Czech Republic) in 1998 and completed a six-month stay at the Guildhall School of Music in London with Professor Simon Wills in 2001. He was named the laureate of international competitions in Geneva (Switzerland, 1998), Gdansk (Poland, 1999), Markneukirchen (Germany, 2002), Jeju (South Korea, 2002), Lieksa (Finland) and Helsinki (2003).

He is the principal trombonist of the Czech Philharmonic and became the section leader in the 2014-2015 season. As a soloist, he has performed with PKF – Prague Philharmonia, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and other Czech orchestras. He has recorded three solo CDs and some twenty more with various chamber ensembles. He has taught at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno since 2003 and was appointed associate professor in 2011.

Ondřej Roskovec  bassoon
Ondřej Roskovec

He studied with Professor Jiří Formáček at the Prague Conservatory and with professors Jiří Seidl and František Heman at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Before graduating, he had already won many competitions and was the laureate of the International Competition Prague Spring and the Prize of the Pro Harmonia Mundi Foundation (1996).

In 1995, he was one of the founding members of the Afflatus Quintet, which won the 1st prize at the prestigious ARD Music Competition in Munich in 1997. He has performed with the ensemble on many stages in Europe and in Japan and has recorded eight CDs, mainly for the Japanese label Octavia Records, for which he also records as a soloist (CD “Combination” in 2006 and recording of J. S. Bach’s Suites BWV 1007-9 in 2013). He performed in the Czech Nonet between 1989 and 1993.

He is the principal bassoonist of the Czech Philharmonic and has been teaching at the Prague Conservatory since 2002. Together with his colleagues, he founded the Summer Bassoon Academy in Rataje nad Sázavou (Czech Republic). In 2016, he co-founded the Czech Double-Reed Society. He gets invitations to teach abroad, such as the Royal Academy in London, Hochschule für Musik in Vienna and Theater und Medien in Hannover (Germany).

Jaroslav Halíř  trumpet
Jaroslav Halíř

In 1992 Jaroslav Halíř won the international competition Concertino Praga. Shortly afterwards he was invited to participate at the trumpet seminar of the European Music Academy in Bonn led by Prof. Edward H. Tarr. Subsequently he began to give solo performances and garnered many prizes in international musical competitions.

In 1995 he recorded his first solo CD. In 1996 he became a member of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, where since 2001 he has been the first trumpet and also performed as a soloist in the works of A. Jolivet, J. Matěj and V. Trojan. He is one of the most sought-after studio performers of modern music, and since 2010 a member of the jazz ensemble Czech Philharmonic JazzBand.

Tomáš Netopil  conductor
Tomáš Netopil

Tomáš Netopil starts his eight season as General Music Director of the Aalto Musiktheater and Philharmonie Essen at the start of 2020/21. This season, the operas he plans to conduct in Essen include Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Die Zauberflöte, The Bartered Bride, and Arabella. In recent seasons, he has conducted Salome, Così fan tutte, Rusalka, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Pique Dame, and Der Rosenkavalier. During his tenure, he has recorded highly acclaimed Suk Asrael, Martinů's Ariane and Double Concerto, plus Mahler Symphonies 6 and 9.

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 Orchestra. Tomáš Netopil has held a close relationship with the Dvořák Prague Festival for some time and was Artist in Residence in 2017, 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. 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. This season, his engagements with them include conducting their 130th anniversary celebrations of Bohuslav Martinů, their 2021 New Year concert, and at the Smetana's Litomyšl Festival in June 2021.

Operatic highlights include Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Juive, The Bartered Bride, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust), Vienna Staatsoper (his most recent successes include Idomeneo, Der Freischütz, and a new production of Leonore and for Netherlands Opera, (Jenůfa featuring Annette Dasch, Hanna Schwarz and Evelyn Herlitzius.) His upcoming plans as a guest conductor include The Makropoulos Case at Grand Théâtre de Genève and Jenůfa for Hamburg Opera.

On the concert platform, Tomáš’ planned engagements this season include Orchestre National de France, Salzburg Mozarteum, Vienna Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Varsovia. His 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, Orchestre National de Montpellier, RAI Torino, and Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.

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.

Compositions

Julius Fučík
Entry of the Gladiators, march, Op. 68

The Entry of the Gladiators, march Op. 68 (Einzug der Gladiatoren) by Julius Fučík (1872–1916) is one of the world’s most popular marches. Its author, a composition pupil of Karel Stecker and Antonín Dvořák, won fame primarily as a military bandleader. In that capacity, he served in two infantry regiments of the Austro-Hungarian military and was stationed at various times in Sarajevo, Budapest, Subotica (Serbia), and Terezín (Theresianstadt). He wrote his triumphant Entry of the Gladiators, march in Sarajevo in 1899. The piece has appeared in several different arrangements, including versions for mechanical musical instruments. Above all, it heard at circuses when the clowns enter.

Julius Fučík
The Grouchy Old Bear, polka for bassoon and orchestra, Op. 210

Julius Fučík was also a gifted instrumentalist. At the Prague Conservatoire he studied bassoon and tympani, and as a bassoonist he played in a wind trio and various orchestras before he began his career as a bandmaster. The burlesque polka The Grouchy Old Bear, Op. 210 (Der alte Brummbär, 1907) reveals that besides skill as a bassoonist, the composer also had a sense of humour. Colloquially, the German word Brummbär means bumblebee, the sound of which resembles a bassoon.

Josef Suk
Playing at Swans and Peacocks, 2nd movement of A Fairy Tale, Op. 16

Playing at Swans and Peacocks by Josef Suk (1874–1935) draws upon motifs from incidental music that this leading representative of Czech modernism composed for Zeyer’s play Radúz and Mahulena. Suk, an excellent violinist and pianist and another composition pupil of Dvořák, finished the incidental music in 1898, and from it he then arranged the suite A Fairy Tale, Op. 16. The suite was premiered in 1901 by the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Oskar Nedbal. The second movement of the suite, a piece in the style of a polka titled Playing at Swans and Peacocks, combines a dance intermezzo with song motifs. There is no lack of emotional warmth, as is typical of Suk’s “Radúz” period, when he was influenced by his love for Otilie Dvořáková, among other things.

Václav Trojan
The Frog from music for the fairytale The Emperor’s Nightingale

Václav Trojan (1907–1983) wrote the brilliant piece Žabák (The Frog) as part of the music for the film Císařův slavík (The Emperor’s Nightingale) based on the fairy tale by H. C. Andersen. In it, he imitated a specific natural sound. The trombone, “when played with a mute, acquires a peculiar sound that approaches that of a frog’s voice,” the composer latter remarked. “It begins staccato, so I can unobtrusively confuse the listener and make it seem as if there is a frog croaking somewhere. And once the imagination has been stimulated, I can afford to let the frog sing beautifully.” Trojan wrote his genial music for Jiří Trnka’s marionette film in 1948, and later the composer arranged it into an orchestral suite. The nostalgic and somewhat comic frog croaks in the style of blues.

Oskar Nedbal
Cavalier Waltz from the operetta Polish Blood

Oskar Nedbal (1874–1930) was of the same generation as Suk and Fučík and was a classmate with them in Dvořák’s composition course. His musical talent also extended to playing viola and conducting. He wrote his Kavalier-Walzer based on motifs from his operetta Polish Blood (Polenblut), which was a great success at its Vienna premiere in 1913. According to the period press, it even overshadowed the premiere of Puccini’s opera La fanciulla del West, which Vienna had heard the day before. Nedbal is said to have enjoyed the performance of Polish Blood so much that he stuffed handkerchiefs into his mouth to keep from laughing out loud on the conductor’s podium.

Václav Vačkář
Memories of Zbiroh

Václav Vačkář (1881–1954) is familiar to audiences mainly as a composer of marches and waltzes, but his extensive oeuvre also encompasses other genres. He was an excellent player of the flugelhorn, trumpet, and violin, and he travelled around performing with several orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic. He served as a bandmaster in Korčul (Croatia), Krakow (Poland), and Boskovice (Moravia), and he also worked in Prague’s cinemas. Once films with soundtracks became widespread, he began devoting himself exclusively to organising musical events, music publishing, and composing. His serenade Vzpomínka na Zbiroh (Memories of Zbiroh) captures his personal experience of visiting the family of Mr. Herzog, a forester from the Bohemian town Zbiroh.

Julius Fučík
Winter Storms Waltz, Op. 184

The concert waltz Winter Storms Waltz, Op. 184 (Winterstürme-Walzer) by Julius Fučík, like The Grouchy Old Bear, also dates from 1907. It exhibits the composer’s feeling for melody, drama, and orchestral colour. Like several other works on today’s programme, this popular piece has appeared in a wide variety of arrangements, including versions for string quartet and for piano.

Bedřich Smetana
The Kiss, overture to the opera
Jan Kučera
Concerto grosso for two violins, cello and orchestra

Jan Kučera (* 1977) is a Czech composer, pianist, arranger, and conductor. He is currently the chief conductor of the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra. He has successful opera performances to his credit as well as collaborations with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and other ensembles. Besides the classical repertoire, he also frequently performs the music of contemporary composers, including his own works in the symphonic, chamber music, song, ballet, and theatrical genres. The Concerto grosso for two violins, cello, and orchestra was composed on commission for this occasion, and it was finished in April 2020 during the spring quarantine. The audience will witness the world premiere of a modern version of the concerto grosso – a baroque musical form based on a dialogue between a group of solo instruments and an orchestral tutti. Between the energetic outer movements, a simple, melodious theme appears at a very slow tempo – a message of hope that the new year will bring better news that the last one.

Antonín Dvořák
Polonaise from Act II of the opera Rusalka, Op. 114

From among the works of Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904), overflowing with joy and musical purity, we will first hear the Polonaise from Act II of the opera Rusalka, Op. 114 (1900). For the scene at the castle, the composer chose to write a polonaise – a dance in triple metre with a characteristic rhythm that evokes images of aristocratic society, representing the world of human beings in contrast with the story’s fairytale elements. (Dvořák had already sketched the theme of the festive Polonaise in 1894 as material for a piano work titled Dithyramb that he never finished.) The opera’s premiere in March 1901 on the stage of the National Theatre in Prague was a triumph for the composer. The work is especially admired for its melodic inventiveness and wonderful orchestration.

Antonín Dvořák
Rondo in G Minor, Op. 94 for cello and orchestra

Antonín Dvořák composed his Rondo in G Minor, Op. 94 for cello and orchestra in connection with his “farewell tour” of Bohemian and Moravian cities before his departure for New York, where he had been invited to be the director of the conservatoire. Originally, this three-part rondo was intended for solo cello and piano. It was first heard in that version in Chrudim in January 1892, where it was played by Hanuš Wihan with the composer at the piano. Dvořák orchestrated the piece in October 1893 while living in America.

Bedřich Smetana
Skočná (Dance of the Comedians) from the opera The Bartered Bride

While the Polonaise from Rusalka evokes life in a castle, the Skočná from the opera The Bartered Bride (Prodaná nevěsta) by Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884) comes from a village scene with comedians. Perhaps his most popular opera, after its premiere in 1866 it crystallised into its definitive form by 1870. The Skočná, a quick dance in duple time, appears in the third version performed in 1869. The Bartered Bride (Prodaná nevěsta) has remained a holiday favourite not only because of the beauty of its musical and its accessibility, but also because of rich performance history.

Antonín Dvořák
Slavonic Dance No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 46
Antonín Dvořák
Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46

The New Year’s Concert will conclude with another work by Antonín Dvořák, his Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G minor, Op. 46. With this dance, a furiant, the composer concluded his first series of Slavonic Dances, which he wrote in versions for piano four-hands and for orchestra in 1878. That same year, the Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, were introduced to the public at a concert of the Society of Czech Journalists under the baton of Adolf Čech. Very soon, they won great acclaim even beyond the borders of Austria-Hungary. The optimistic, melodically and rhythmically refreshing Furiant in G minor has been played by community ensembles and military bands and by amateurs as well as by great symphony orchestras.

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