This second concert at the Dvořák Prague festival offers the Czech Philharmonic under Jiří Bělohlávek performing two important works by Dvořák from the mid-1870s: his Symphony No. 5 in F major and Piano Concerto in G minor. Tackling the extraordinarily challenging solo part in the concerto will be the phenomenal seventeen-year-old pianist Niu Niu.
Tickets and contact informationMore about tickets
Tickets are available on the website of Dvořákova Praha festival.
Dvořák Prague Festival Infopoint
Jan Palach square, Prague 1, Czech Republic
+420 775 875 875
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Tickets reserved on our website can be picked up at all the festival’s points of sale, except the Ticketpro network.
Where to pick up tickets that have already been purchased?
Tickets already paid for on our website can be picked up only at the Dvořák Prague Festival Ticket Centre, the Perfect System Service Centre, the box office of the Municipal hall, or starting 14 August 2017 also the box office of the Rudolfinum.
The young Chinese pianist Niu Niu can be called a Wunderkind ('wonder child') with no exaggeration. He showed his exceptional musical talent already at the age of three. When only six he debuted with a solo recital, and two years later he became the youngest student in the history of the Shanghai Conservatory. He continued his studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Niu Niu appears in prestigious concert halls with an unusually broad and demanding repertoire. Pianist Leslie Howard has called him ‘the finest young musician I have ever known.’
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Antonín Dvořák composed his only piano concerto in 1876 at a time when he was known as a composer only to the Prague public. Of course, we should also mention the works he was composing at the time: just in 1876 for example, he wrote, among other things, the Moravian Duets and his Stabat Mater, works that were quite extraordinary and very different from each other. Likewise, in his Piano Concerto in G Minor,Op. 33, Dvořák created a work that was all his own. He certainly could have had no idea that the work’s performance history would also turn out to be unique. The concerto received much recognition and admiration, but it also met with incomprehension and condemnation from certain quarters, and the work itself was even mutilated. Dvořák definitely had not intended to compose either the piano solo part or the work as a whole in the manner of Chopin or Liszt. He had handled the relationship between the piano and the orchestra differently. Dvořák, of course, was not the only composer whose works received both praise and criticism, but in Dvořák’s case, things went beyond mere criticism. A few years after Dvořák’s death, the Prague piano teacher Vilém Kurz made an arrangement of the piano part, and Dvořák’s concerto began to be performed in this severely distorted version, especially after the arrangement appeared in print. In recent years, however, performers have returned increasingly to Dvořák’s own version of the concerto.
In 1875, at the age of thirty-four, Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) composed his breakthrough work – Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76 – within a mere seven weeks. At the time, his financial situation had finally begun to take a turn for the better, and as a result of being granted a scholarship his standard of living markedly improved.
Dvořák’s Fifthbecame a seminal piece owing to the forcible formal treatment of its movements, in which the composer was able to apply the essence of his bountiful creative inventiveness and masterfully “put it together”. The compositional language became crystal clear and Dvořák could thus manifest his singular style as a mature symphonist. In expressive terms, the first three movements and the finale come across as contrastive. The music vaults from the pastoral tones of the introductory movement through the lyrical and melancholic slow movement to the lightened dance scherzo. The fourth movement ushers in a totally different type of music – a torrential drama that is one of the most virtuosic accomplishments within Dvořák’s orchestral creation.
When, thirteen years after completing his Symphony No. 5, Dvořák was about to deliver it to Simrock, he had revised the work. And when carrying out the modifications, he decided to dedicate the composition to the world-renowned German conductor Hans von Bülow. In a letter dated 25 November 1887, Bülow replied: “Most honoured Master! A dedication from you – alongside Brahms, the most gifted composer of the present day – is a decoration higher than a Grand Cross from a prince. With the most heartfelt thanks, I accept this honour. Your devoted admirer Hans von Bülow.”
Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76, was premiered in March 1879 in Prague under the baton of Adolf Čech. Nine years passed before its first performance abroad, on 7 April 1888 at the Crystal Palace in London, conducted by August Manns. The English composer and music critic Charles Barry wrote in a letter to Dvořák: “Dear friend! I take pleasure in being perhaps the first to inform you that yesterday your symphony Op. 76 was wonderfully performed and really warmly received. Without doing injustice to the others, I am compelled to say that the final movement is truly inspired and written in a masterful form.”
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