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Czech Philharmonic • Zoltán Fejérvári
Bohuslav Martinů’s Overture, inspired by forms and methods of Baroque music, opens a Czech-Hungarian programme prepared by Principal Guest Conductor Tomáš Netopil. Next comes Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a key work in Zoltán Fejérvári’s repertoire. Dvořák’s rarely heard Legends bring the unusual programme to a wonderful conclusion.
Overture, H 345 (6')
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major (25')
— Intermission —
Legends, Op. 59 (45')
Allegretto non troppo, quasi andantino (D Minor)
Molto moderato (G Major)
Allegro giusto (G Minor)
Molto maestoso (C Major)
Allegro giusto (A Flat Major)
Allegro con moto (C Sharp Minor)
Allegretto grazioso (A Major)
Un poco allegretto (F Major)
Andante con moto (D Major)
Andante (B Flat Minor)
Zoltán Fejérvári piano
Tomáš Netopil conductor
Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall
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Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic
Tel.: +420 227 059 227
Customer Service office hours are on weekdays from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.
The realization of the concerts is financially supported by the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.
Zoltán Fejérvári has emerged as one of the most intriguing pianists among the newest generation of Hungarian musicians. Winner of the 2017 Concours Musical International de Montréal and recipient of the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2016, Zoltán Fejérvári has appeared in recitals throughout the Americas and Europe, at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Canada’s Place des Arts, Gasteig in Munich, Lingotto in Turin, Palau de Música in Valencia, Biblioteca Nacional de Buenos Aires, and Liszt Academy in Budapest. He has performed as a soloist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hungarian National Orchestra, Verbier Chamber Orchestra, and Concerto Budapest, and he has collaborated with such conductors as Iván Fischer, Gábor Tákács-Nagy, Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi, and Zoltán Kocsis. Fejérvári’s solo recording debut, Janáček, released in January 2019, earned rave reviews as “the most sensitive and deeply probative recording” of that composer’s work (Gramophone).
In the 2019/2020 season, Fejérvári continues to perform chamber music, recital, and orchestral repertoire spanning five centuries. He begins the season at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival with a recital of Bartók, Jörg Widmann, and Schumann followed by chamber music performances. Fejérvári makes his Washington Performing Arts recital debut in November 2019, performing works by Janáček, Schubert, and Chopin. Additional recital debuts include the La Jolla Music Society; Howland Chamber Music Circle in Beacon, NY; Frederic Chopin Society of Minnesota; Sanford-Hill Piano Series at Western Washington University; and the Norfolk & Norwich Music Society in the U.K.
Fejérvári’s orchestral collaborations this season include Bartók’s Concerto No. 3 with the San Antonio and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras; D Minor and A Major concerti of J. S. Bach with the Czech Philharmonic; Variations on a Nursery Tune by Ernő Dohnányi with the Concerto Budapest Orchestra under the baton of András Keller; and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 with Mátyás Antal at the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra Miskolc. As a chamber musician, Fejérvári performs with the Elias Quartet presented by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and with violinist Diana Tishchenko in Aix-en-Provence and La Chaux-de-Fonds. He is also a guest at the Brooklyn Chamber Music Festival.
Past seasons’ recital highlights have included Classical Spree, the festival of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; contemporary and Baroque concerti at Lucerne Festival at the request of Sir András Schiff, a longtime mentor to Fejérvári; Gilmore Keyboard Festival Rising Stars series; and Vancouver Recital Society in British Columbia. Schiff chose Fejérvári to participate in “Building Bridges,” a series established to highlight young pianists of unusual promise. Under this aegis Fejérvári gave recitals during the 2017/2018 season in Berlin, Bochum, Brussels, Zurich, Ittingen, among other cities.
Orchestral highlights of Fejérvári’s 2018/2019 season included Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15, with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which Iván Fischer led in Budapest and on tour to Warsaw. At the Liszt Academy, Fejérvári performed J. S. Bach’s Concerto in F Minor, BWV 1056, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35.
Fejérvári has collaborated with the Keller and Kodály Quartets; violinists Joseph Lin and András Keller; cellists Gary Hoffman, Christoph Richter, Ivan Monighetti, Frans Helmerson, and Steven Isserlis; and horn player Radovan Vlatković. Fejérvári has appeared at Kronberg’s Chamber Music Connects the World program; Prussia Cove’s Open Chamber Music; Lisztomania at Châteauroux, France; the Tiszadob Piano Festival in Hungary; and Encuentro de Música in Santander, Spain. At the invitation of artistic director Mitsuko Uchida, he participated in the Marlboro Music Festival in the summers of 2014 and 2016. Fejérvári also toured throughout the United States with Musicians from Marlboro in the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons.
Zoltán Fejérvári’s solo piano album debut, Janáček, was released on the Piano Classics label in 2019. It features performances of On an Overgrown Path, in the Mists, and Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905. In 2013 his recording of Liszt’s Malédiction with the Budapest Chamber Symphony, for Hungaroton, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. The recording was followed by a CD of four sonatas for piano and violin by Mozart with violinist Ernő Kállai, issued in 2014 by Hungaroton.
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.
Overture, H 345
Bohuslav Martinů came from Polička, and his childhood is associated with St James’ Church and the immediate vicinity of the town. In his youth he learned to play the violin, and he later studied the instrument at the Prague Conservatoire, but he did not finish school because of the distractions of other interests. At the same time he began composing his first pieces for strings and later for piano and other instruments. In 1912 he passed a remedial state examination as a violinist and became a member of the Czech Philharmonic second violin section. He also had his first successes as a composer—there was a performance of his Czech Rhapsody, and later the National Theatre premiered his ballet Istar. Martinů returned to composing and spent a year studying under Josef Suk at the Prague Conservatoire. From the autumn of 1923 he was on scholarship for studies under Albert Roussel in Paris. In his initial period as a composer, he was seeking a compositional style of his own—Martinů took as his departure point the strong traditions of Czech music, the works of Smetana and Dvořák, and the music of the French impressionists. He was also captivated by Richard Strauss’s orchestration. It was Paris, however, that opened up new horizons to him. There he became familiar with the music of not only Roussel, but also Stravinsky, Les six, and jazz. In Martinů’s second period in the 1930s, his music began to be influenced by Baroque forms and especially by folk music. Folk inspiration stayed with the composer until his death, influencing the creation of many larger and smaller works (Czech Nursery Rhymes, The Chap-Book, Czech Madrigals etc.). The Munich Agreement and the Nazi invasion of France forced Martinů to depart for the USA, where he composed his symphonies and also found a new public and pupils. While he was there, his compositions achieved worldwide fame. After the war he never returned home, living successively in Italy, France, and Switzerland, where he died. The composer’s last works were again devoted mainly to large forms, cantatas, and operas, while he was devoting less attention to instrumental works.
Martinů composed his Overture for orchestra, H. 345, in five days of November 1953 while staying in Nice, and he dedicated it to the Association of Parents and Friends of the Mannes College of Music in New York. The composition inventively highlights the smaller sections of the orchestra to bring to mind the composer’s interest in concerto grosso techniques.
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E Major
The Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist attended grammar school in Bratislava and studied piano and harmony under László Erkel. He then went to the Academy of Music in Budapest where he graduated from the piano studio of István Thomán and the composition studio of Hans von Koessler. After the successes of his first works (the symphonic poem Kossuth and the Rhapsody No. 1 for piano and orchestra), which reflect Bartók’s admiration for Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss, he decided to seek inspiration from folklore. In 1905 Bartók and Zoltán Kodály began collecting folk music in rural Hungary, then later, for the sake of making comparisons, they collected Slovak, Romanian, Ukrainian, Turkish, and Arabic songs. He soon became recognised as one of the world’s leading authorities on ethnomusicology, but he also drew upon the songs plentifully for his own compositions. With the help of the archaic rhythmic and tonal structures of the folk music of eastern Europe, he tried to escape the system of major and minor keys, and he also took inspiration from the music of Claude Debussy. This stylistic change first appeared in his piano compositions (14 Bagatelles, Two Romanian Dances, and especially the Allegro barbaro), but later it was plentifully reflected in his orchestral works as well. From 1907 he taught piano at the academy of music, and he also toured Europe as a pianist with programmes including his own works. In the latter half of the 1920s he repeatedly appeared in Czechoslovakia with such programmes. In 1934 he stopped teaching piano began work on preparing an edition of Hungarian folk songs as an employee of the Academy of Sciences. In the early 1940s he moved permanently to the USA, where he spent the rest of his life. Bartók’s most acclaimed works include six string quartets (1908–1939), the opera Bluebeard’s Castle (1911), and the pantomime The Miraculous Mandarin (1919, rev. 1931). Also noteworthy are his innovative pedagogical piano cycles (For Children, 1909; Mikrokosmos, 1926–1939). He introduced the public to revelatory sonic possibilities especially in his Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936), the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1938), and the virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra (1943).
Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto in E major, Sz 119, is one of his last compositions, finished just a few months before his death in 1945. The last few bars were added posthumously by Bartók’s pupil, the violinist and composer Tibor Serly. The concerto was premiered in Philadelphia in February 1946 by the pianist György Sándor with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the conductor Eugene Ormandy. Bartók dedicated it as a birthday present to his wife, the pianist Ditta Pásztory. The three-movement concerto is one of the most frequently played works in the piano repertoire, and it differs notably from Bartók’s two previous piano concertos, which are sharply rhythmical and contain many hints of Hungarian folk melodies. The latter appear in the Third Concerto to a lesser extent. The work is anchored in tonality, and thanks to its neoclassical form, it is more accessible to audiences. After the premiere, some critics accused Bartók of pandering to cheap American tastes, but others claimed that the concerto was the composer’s natural attempt at an overall simplification of musical language and a return from tonal experiments to classical procedures.
Legends, Op. 59
A native of the Bohemian village Nelahozeves, Antonín Dvořák is one of the most famous Czech composers. He came from a family of amateur musicians, and his music teacher was Antonín Liehmann, for whom the young Dvořák worked at the church, often substituting for him in the organ loft. Although he did an apprenticeship as a butcher and was supposed to take over his father’s business, good fortune smiled on him, and at Liehmann’s urging he began studying at an organ school in Prague. There he met Karel Bendl and Bedřich Smetana, played viola at the Provisional Theatre, and earned extra money by teaching music privately. He also gradually established himself by writing his first string quartets, symphonies, and operas (Alfred, King and Collier). The popularity of Dvořák’s works gradually increased, and one of the milestones of his career came when Brahms recommended Dvořák’s Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances to his Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock. In the 1880s, Dvořák was invited to England repeatedly, especially because of the great popularity of his choral works (The Spectre’s Bride, Stabat Mater etc.), then in the 1990s he spent several years teaching at a conservatoire in New York. He wrote nine symphonies (the Ninth Symphony “From the New World” is one of the most famous), ten operas (The Jacobin, Rusalka, The Devil and Kate, Armida etc.), a violin concerto, a cello concerto, dances, serenades, string quartets, and overtures. While still living, he received many special honours and awards.
Dvořák orchestrated his Legends, Op. 59, B. 122, in November and December 1881 in reaction to the success of the original version for piano four-hands. The ten-movement piano cycle of short pieces with masterfully handling of motifs was composed in the spring of 1881 and was dedicated to the Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick in appreciation of his long-term interest in Dvořák’s music. The publisher Simrock issued the work that summer, and the enthusiastic reactions of the composer Johannes Brahms, the conductor Hans von Bülow, and others encouraged the publisher to ask for an orchestral version of the cycle. The probable literary inspiration for the Legends may have been poetry by Erben, as is shown not only by the balladic character of some of the movements, but also by the theory according to which the motivic material of Dvořák’s music may have been derived from the rhythms of Erben’s verses. We also find this principle employed in Dvořák’s symphonic poems. The Legends are regarded as a more intimate, lyrical counterpart to the Slavonic Dances, and they are typified by an archaicising, epic character, although the individual movements do not portray concrete events.