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On Wednesday 3 October, the Czech Philharmonic will give the first in a series of concerts to mark the centenary of Czech and Slovak Independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The all-Czech programme conducted by Chief Conductor and Music Director Semyon Bychkov will be performed at the Rudolfinum, the Hall where Dvořák conducted the Orchestra’s inaugural concert in January 1896 and its permanent home since 1946.
In keeping with the Czech Philharmonic's standing as the preeminent ambassador of Prague and of Czech culture, the Concert for the 100th Anniversary of Czechoslovakia will be followed by performances in London (24 October), New York (27 October) and Washington (29 October). At Carnegie Hall, a second programme will feature Mahler's Symphony No. 2 Resurrection with soloists Christiane Karg and Elisabeth Kulman (28 October).
The London concert is at the Royal Academy of Music where Semyon Bychkov has held the Otto Klemperer Chair of Conducting since 2012. Students from the Orchestra of the Royal Academy will share desks with members of the Czech Philharmonic for the opening work, Smetana's The Bartered Bride Overture, before the Czech Philharmonic perform Dvořák's Cello Concerto with soloist Alisa Weilerstein and Symphony No. 7.
The Czech Philharmonic was first heard in the UK in 1902 when Oskar Nedbal led the Orchestra in its maiden tour outside the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Returning frequently, in 1969 the Orchestra made its BBC Proms debut with three programmes. More recently, Jiří Bělohlávek conducted an all-Czech programme at the 2014 BBC Proms and two years later returned to the Royal Festival Hall to conduct the Orchestra in Janáček's Jenůfa.
Semyon Bychkov's tenure opens officially with the start of the Orchestra's 123rd season on 10 October for which he has chosen to conduct Mahler's Symphony No. 2. Mahler, like Brahms and Tchaikovsky who were friends with Dvořák, had a close affinity to the Czech Philharmonic and in 1908 conducted the world première of his Symphony No. 7 with the Orchestra. The season's first subscription concert follows one week later. The programme opens with a work that Bychkov has championed for 20 years, Berio's Sinfonia for 8 Voices and Orchestra, and is completed with Dvořák's Symphony No.7.
Hot on the heels of the London concert, Bychkov and the Orchestra embark on a 11-concert tour of the US, followed by three concerts at Vienna's Musikverein.
“The Czech Philharmonic is among the very few orchestras that have managed to preserve a unique identity. In a music world that is increasingly globalized and uniform, the Orchestra’s noble tradition has retained authenticity of expression and sound, making it one of the world's artistic treasures. When the orchestra and Czech government asked me to succeed beloved Jiří Bělohlávek, I felt deeply honoured by the trust they were ready to place in me. There is no greater privilege for an artist than to become part of and lead an institution that shares the same values, the same commitment and the same devotion to the art of music.”
Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor and Music Director
Partner of the tour in the USA is the
Karel Komárek Family Foundation