Czech Philharmonic • Open Air Concert


The traditional Open Air Concert returns to Prague's Hradčany Square after two years! This year's programme, which as usual is to close the concert season of the Czech Philharmonic in a light-hearted way, has been prepared by British conductor Wayne Marshall in the spirit of jazz, film and musical inspirations.

  • Duration of the programme 1 hod 10 min

Programme

Leonard Bernstein
Candide, opera overture (5')

George Gershwin
An American in Paris (18')

John Williams
Across the Stars. Love Theme from Star Wars: Episode II (7') 

Leonard Bernstein
Three Dances Episodes from the musical On the Town (11')
Dance of the Great Lover
Pas de deux
Times Square Ballets

Arturo Márquez
Danzón No. 2 (10')

Pablo de Sarasate
Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) for violin and orchestra, Op. 20 (9')
Moderato – Lento – Un poco più lento – Allegro molto vivace

George Gershwin
Cuban overture (10')

 

Performers

Jan Mráček violin

Wayne Marshall conductor

Marek Eben host

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Open Air Concert

Prague — Hradčany Square


Free entry Tickets and contact information

The concert will take place on Hradčany Square and is free to the public

Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.:  +420 227 059 227

E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

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 world’s orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, St Louis Symphony, Symphony of Florida, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Romanian Radio Symphony, Lappeenranta City Orchestra (Finland) as well as the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK), Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava and almost all Czech regional orchestras.

Jan Mráček had the honor of being invited by Maestro Jiří Bělohlávek to guest lead the Czech Philharmonic 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. He has been a concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic since 2018.

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.

Jan Mráček plays on a Carlo Fernando Landolfi violin, Milan 1758, generously loaned to him by Mr Peter Biddulph.

In 2021 he received Jiří Bělohlávek Award from the Czech Philharmonic.

Wayne Marshall  conductor
Wayne Marshall

British conductor, organist and pianist Wayne Marshall is world-renowned for his musicianship and versatility on the podium and at the keyboard. He served as Chief Conductor of WDR Funkhaus Orchestra Cologne 2014–2020, became Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in 2007 and is a celebrated interpreter of Gershwin, Bernstein and other 20th century composers.

Plans for the 22/23 season include his conducting debut with Munich Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony. Wayne Marshall returns to Orchestre de Paris, BR Munich, Tonkunstler Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, North Netherlands Orchestra, Bern Symphoniker, St Gallen, Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival, Orchestra La Verdi in Milan, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Lyon Opera where he will be conducting Bernstein’s Opera “Candide”.

Recent conducting highlights include his critically-acclaimed debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker featuring Martin Grubinger, a widely-praised new production Porgy and Bess at Theater an der Wien, Tonkunstler Orchestra, Czech, Rotterdam, Oslo and Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestras, SWR for a special Frank Zappa project, touring Bernstein’s Wonderful Town with Het Gelders Orkest and ReisZuid-Nederland, Shanghai Philharmonic, a concert version of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Prague Radio Philharmonic and UK touring with Chineke! and BBC Singers. In the Summer of 2021, Wayne Marshall had his debut at the Edinburgh International Festival with special Rodgers and Hammerstein gala concerts featuring Danielle de Niese

As organ recitalist, he has an exceptionally varied repertoire and performs worldwide and online to an audience of millions. He gave a spectacular online recital at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in the 19/20 season and 2022/2023 plans include returns to Philharmonie de Paris, Essen Philharmonie, Berlin Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie, and the 150th birthday celebrations of the Henry Willis organ at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Throughout 2018 he played a key role in leading the Bernstein centenary celebrations. Highlights included Bernstein’s Mass with Orchestre de Paris at the Philharmonie de Paris and Kaddish with Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse later in the year. He also made his debut with Zurich Philharmonie in an all-Bernstein programme and conducted the rarely-performed White House Cantata in Utrecht with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He also worked with the Munich Rundfunkorchester at the Prinzregententheater and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

He conducted the first performance of the highly-acclaimed orchestra Chineke! at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Other guest-conducting invitations include Royal Scottish National Orchestra, La Scala, Taipei Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Vienna Symphony, New World Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, RAI Turin, BBC Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, and Moscow Chamber Choir.

Wayne has conducted Porgy and Bess numerous times, including at the Opera Comique, Paris, Washington National Opera and Dallas Opera. He conducted Bernstein’s Candide and Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny at the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin and Harbison’s The Great Gatsby at the Semperoper, Dresden. Marshall conducted Jake Heggie’s acclaimed opera Dead Man Walking at Montreal Opera and was immediately re-invited to conduct Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Recent notable organ recitals in the 19/20 season included Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles; Kimmel Centre Philadelphia and Symphony Hall, Birmingham UK. He is a regular performer at the BBC Proms and appeared in the 2012 season as organist and was co-presenter of the Barenboim Prom in Summer 2014. He recently appeared as soloist in the 2016 season at the Ten Pieces Prom.

In 2018 Wayne recorded a Gershwin CD with WDR Funkhaus Orchestra in Cologne and a double-CD featuring all of Bernstein’s lesser-known chamber music works. His most recent releases feature all three of his disciplines: Dupre’s Passion Symphony for organ on Base2Music, ‘Born to Play’ Gershwin orchestral disc released on Avi with WDR Funkhaus and A Flower Remembered with Wayne performing piano arrangements of John Rutter’s beloved choral works, recorded at home in Malta during the 2020 lockdown. He has recorded extensively for numerous major labels and received an ECHO (Deutscher Schallplattenpreis) award for his 'Gershwin Songbook' CD.

Wayne was honoured with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2021. In 2004 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Bournemouth University and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Music in 2010. In 2016 Wayne was awarded the prestigious Golden Jubilee Award, presented by the Barbados Government for his services to music. Wayne is proud to be an Ambassador of the London Music Fund.

Marek Eben  host
Marek Eben

Marek Eben was born in 1957 in Prague. He studied music drama at the Prague Conservatoire. After finishing school, he worked at the Vítězslav Nezval Theatre in Karlovy Vary, then at the Kladno Theatre, and from 1983 to 2002 he was an ensemble member at Prague’s Studio Ypsilon Theatre. Besides acting, he also involves himself with music. He is the exclusive songwriter for the band The Eben Brothers, which has released five albums (Malé písně do tmy, 1984; Tichá domácnost, 1995; Já na tom dělám, 2002; Chlebíčky, 2008; Čas holin, 2014), and he wrote the music for the films Bizon and Hele on letí and for the television series Poste restante. He has also composed music and written texts for about 20 plays (including Matěj Poctivý – Matthew the Honest, Vosková figura – The Wax Figure, Amerika, and Othello for Studio Ypsilon and The Winter’s Tale for the National Theatre). Since 1996, he has been the moderator of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

He has worked extensively on television, serving as the moderator of various programmes such as the contest O poklad Anežky České (The Treasure of St Agnes of Bohemia), the TýTý Awards Presentation, Stardance, and the discussion programme Na plovárně (At the Swimming Pool), which won the Elsa Award in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 for the best talk show. Marek Eben has also won this prize as a moderator in 2001, 2002, 2006, and 2007. He is also the two-time overall winner of the TýTý Awards.

Compositions


Open Air concert - programme of the evening

The famed American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990) was born to a family of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, and he soon exhibited extraordinary musical talent. He graduated from Harvard and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and he became the assistant of the famed conductor Sergei Koussevitzky with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. When Bernstein stood in for the ailing Bruno Walter with the New York Philharmonic in 1943, it launched his incredible conducting career. Among other things, from 1958 to 1969 he was the music director of the New York Philharmonic, and after that until the end of his life he guest conducted major orchestras around the world and was the protagonist of many music education and popularisation programmes. He also left behind a wealth of compositions that display his fondness for jazz and pop-music. His works for the stage includes six musicals, among which West Side Story (1957) is especially famous worldwide. Bernstein’s first musical and his first to appear on Broadway was On the Town (1944), a romantic wartime comedy about three sailors on leave for 24 hours in New York. Bernstein later arranged three dance episodes from it as a concert suite. Its musical quality including the orchestration transcends the genre of Broadway standards and shows the composer’s skill.

The operetta Candide, premiered on Broadway in 1956, was conceived in the spirit of Jacques Offenbach, including the lightness and wit of his genre. This is already immediately clear from the brilliant overture, with its greater musical wealth and sophistication than was customary for operettas or musicals. It opens with a fanfare and ends with a rapid succession of fragments of all the motifs heard in the course of the music. The premiere of Candide was not very successful, but revivals of the work found a public, and the overture became popular on its own.

One of Bernstein’s role models was George Gershwin (1898–1937), the author of many jazz songs of enduring popularity, but also the composer of world-famous orchestral works. Besides Rapsody in Blue, he is best known for American in Paris, a tone poem influenced by jazz and by Gershwin’s stay in the French capital, where he had gone to study with Maurice Ravel. “My purpose here is to portray the impressions of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere,” said the composer in an interview. For this reason, his orchestration employs unusual instruments including automobile horns. The premiere took place in December 1928 at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In February 1932 Gershwin went on holiday to the Cuban capital Havana. That visit also resulted in a composition—that summer he wrote Rumba, later renamed Cuban Overture. The main rhythm, indicated by the original title, is highlighted using percussion and other colourful instrumental effects. The premiere in New York was a huge success, about which Gershwin wrote: “It was, I really believe, the most exciting night I have ever had...17,845 people paid to get in and just about 5,000 were at the closed gates trying to fight their way in—unsuccessfully.”

Even if you are not a devoted fan of the Star Wars films, you cannot have missed hearing the melodies of John Williams (*1932). His list of film credits is amazing, and he has been nominated for an incredible 52 Oscars, winning five times along with the Golden Globe four times and 25 Grammy Awards. The American Film Institute called his score for Star Wars the best film music of the 20th century. The composition Across the Stars contains the main musical theme of Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and it expresses the love between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. Williams also used the melody Across the Stars in the continuation, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

Meet one of today’s most famous Mexican composers, Arturo Márquez (*1950). He received an excellent education in Mexico, the USA, and Paris, thanks to which he mastered all the modern compositional techniques including electronic music. His greatest successes have mainly been works that employ elements of Mexico’s unique music and vivacious dances. Best known is his series of nine danzóns, named after the Cuban dance genre, that is also popular in Mexico’s dance hall and had its golden age in the 1940s. Márquez wrote Danzón No. 2 in 1993, inspired by dancers who initiated him into all the mysteries of this sensuous dance full of nostalgia and joy.

Not many works for violin and orchestra are more brilliant than Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) by Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908). From Mexico, the work takes us to the traditional folk ensembles of Romania and Hungary, and its conclusion quotes Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13. Sarasate was from Spain, but once again a visit to foreign lands had an effect. In the spring of 1877 he visited Budapest, where he met Liszt and got to know the local folklore. In early 1878 he published the original version for violin and piano, then the orchestral version came three years later. Sarasate was famed all over Europe as a superb concert violinist. He put his virtuosity into his music, and especially into Zigeunerweisen, which he recorded in 1904. The single-movement piece is audibly divided into four sections, climaxing with the most technically difficult conclusion, marked Allegro molto vivace.

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