Czech Philharmonic • Rudolf Buchbinder

Tomáš Netopil divides his time between symphonic and opera conducting, and he wishes to show his “operatic face” to the Czech Philharmonic audience. For the players of the orchestra, the suite from the High Baroque opera Hippolyte et Aricie represents an interpretive challenge.

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Jean-Philippe Rameau
Hippolyte et Aricie, orchestral suite from the opera 

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60


Rudolf Buchbinder

Tomáš Netopil

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Rudolf Buchbinder

Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall

Dress rehearsal
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Tomáš Netopil divides his time between symphonic and opera conducting, and he wishes to show his “operatic face” to the Czech Philharmonic audience. For the players of the orchestra, the suite from the High Baroque opera Hippolyte et Aricie represents an interpretive challenge. Just as it is a good idea for early music ensembles to take an occasional excursion into the world of Romanticism, Baroque music also belongs on the programmes of modern orchestras, and the opera Hippolyte et Aricie is one of the supreme works of its genre. Jean-Philippe Rameau wrote it at the age of fifty-one as a respected music theorist and teacher. The new work caused a true sensation, and according to the critics, it contained “enough music to compose ten operas”. Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and First Piano Concerto have in common his attempt to come to terms with the compositional style of Haydn and Mozart in a worthy manner. Beethoven managed not only to grasp the greatness of the two composers, but also to channel his own original, sometimes unbridled musical language into the classical form. This can be best heard in the Menuetto of the Fourth Symphony, a full-fledged, brilliant scherzo notwithstanding its measured proportions. The Fourth Symphony is Tomáš Netopil’s contribution to the complete performances of Beethoven’s symphonies for the composer’s 250th birthday. In February, the phenomenal Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder will also begin a cycle of all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, which he will be performing as a soloist with the Czech Philharmonic, and next season as a conductor as well.


Rudolf Buchbinder  piano

Rudolf Buchbinder

Rudolf Buchbinder is one of the legendary artists of our time. His piano playing is an unparalleled fusion of the authority of a career spanning more than 60 years with spirit and spontaneity. His renditions are celebrated worldwide for their intellectual depth and musical freedom.

Particularly his renditions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs works are considered to be exemplary. He has performed the 32 piano sonatas 60 times in cycles all over the world and developed the story of their interpretation over decades. He was the first pianist to play all Beethoven sonatas at the Salzburg Festival during a summer festival. A live recording is available on DVD.

On the occasion of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs 250th birthday in the 2019/2020 concert season, for the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna Musikverein is giving a single pianist, Rudolf Buchbinder, the honor of performing all five piano concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven in a specially edited cycle. Buchbinderʼs partners in this unprecedented constellation are the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Music Director Andris Nelsons, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden under their chief conductors Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev and Christian Thielemann.

Together with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, Rudolf Buchbinder returned to the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Philharmonie Luxembourg and the Carnegie Hall New York as part of a tour.

A première is the focus of the Beethoven Year 2020. Based on Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations Op. 120, Rudolf Buchbinder initiated a new cycle of variations on the same waltz by Anton Diabelli, which also forms the basis of Beethovenʼs epochal masterpiece. With Lera Auerbach, Brett Dean, Toshio Hosokawa, Christian Jost, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Krzysztof Penderecki, Max Richter, Rodion Shchedrin, Johannes Maria Staud, Tan Dun and Jörg Widmann, it was possible to win twelve leading contemporary composers of different generations and backgrounds. The New Diabelli Variations were commissioned by a variety of concert promoters worldwide and with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

The world première recording of the New Diabelli Variations marks the beginning of Rudolf Buchbinderʼs exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon. At the same time he also presents a new recording of Beethovenʼs Diabelli Variations, which he last recorded in 1976.

Rudolf Buchbinder is an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the first soloist to be awarded the Golden Badge of Honor by the Staatskapelle Dresden.

Buchbinder attaches great importance to source research. His private music collection comprises 39 complete editions of Ludwig van Beethovenʼs piano sonatas as well as an extensive archive of first prints, original editions and copies of the piano scores of both piano concertos by Johannes Brahms.

He has been the artistic director of the Grafenegg Festival since its foundation in 2007. Today, Grafenegg is one of the most influential orchestral festivals in Europe.

Two books by Rudolf Buchbinder have been published so far, his autobiography Da Capo and Mein Beethoven – Leben mit dem Meister. Numerous award-winning recordings on CD and DVD document his career.

For concert dates and further information please visit the homepage

Tomáš Netopil  principal guest conductor

Tomáš Netopil

Since the 2018/2019 season, Tomáš Netopil has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, with which he regularly prepares concert programmes at the Rudolfinum and on tours. The 2022/2023 season was his tenth and final as General Music Director of the Aalto Theater and Philharmonic in Essen, Germany. From the 2025/2026 season, he will take up the post of chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. 

In 2018, Tomáš Netopil created the International Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, offering students exceptional artistic instruction and the chance to meet and work with major international musicians. In the summer of 2021, in association with the Dvořákova Praha Festival, the Academy established the Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic with musicians from conservatories and music academies, coached by principal players of the Czech Philharmonic.

As evidenced by his engagement in Essen, Tomáš Netopil is a sought-after opera conductor. From 2008 to 2012, he was the music director of the Opera of the National Theatre in Prague. Operatic highlights beyond Essen include the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Juive, The Bartered Bride, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust), the Vienna Staatsoper (his most recent successes include Idomeneo, Der Freischütz, and a new production of Leonore), and the Netherlands Opera (Jenůfa). His concert highlights of recent seasons have included the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich as well as engagements with the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, the Orchestre National de Montpellier, and Concentus Musicus Wien.

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. During his tenure in Essen, he has recorded Suk’s Asrael and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 6 and 9.

He studied violin and conducting in his native Czech Republic and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm under the guidance of Professor Jorma Panula. In 2002 he won the inaugural Sir Georg Solti Conductors Competition at the Alte Oper Frankfurt. In his spare time, he likes to fly small planes.


Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Hippolyte a Aricie, orchestrální suita z opery

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s musical tragedy Hippolyte et Aricie was the work that set off a pitched battle in the field of opera. In eighteenth-century France, wars over opera erupted once every twenty years, and these conflicts enflamed the entire continent and determined the course of music history. In the 1730s it was the Lullistes against the Ramistes, in the 1750s a dispute over Italian comic opera (La querelle des buffons), and finally in the 1770s the ruthless struggle between proponents of Niccolò Piccinni and Christoph Willibald Gluck (La querelle des Gluckistes et des Piccinnistes).

J. P. Rameau began composing opera at a mature age. The opera Hippolyte et Aricie was premiered shortly after Rameau celebrated his 50th birthday on 1 October 1733. The renowned music theorist created a stir even before the premiere because the musicians were unable to learn some parts of the work because of their difficulty. The first performance served to highlight the unusual nature of Rameau’s music: chromatic progressions, sophisticated orchestration, and lengthy dance numbers. Lully’s proponents claimed that the score contained “too many notes” and derided their competitors as “Rameauneurs” (the French word “ramoneur” means “chimney sweep”). Rameau seemingly had no intention of engaging in artistic polemics with Lully. After all, he composed Hippolyte et Aricie as a “tragédie lyrique”, a five-act musical drama with a prologue, which was introduced to the stage in the 1670s by Jean Baptiste Lully the court composer of the “Sun King” Louis XIV. Moreover, the literary source of Hippolyte et Aricie was the tragedy Phèdre by another great figure of seventeenth-century French culture, Jean Racine, but the way Rameau treated Lully’s and Racine’s legacy in 1733 was viewed as an attack on the values of the “grand siècle”. In order to describe the impression made by the peculiarly overblown music, the critics used the insulting word “baroque”, which was later used to designate the entire epoch.

Rameau borrowed the story of Hippolyte from Racine’s Phèdre, but he followed operatic convention and added a happy ending to the originally tragic story. While in the play Hippolyte is cursed by his father Thésée for seemingly having seduced Phèdre, in the opera he is rescued by the goddess Diana, and in the end he returns to his beloved Aricie. The story gave Rameau the opportunity to write evocative solo scenes (especially for Phèdre and Thésée) and a number of instrumental numbers for spectacular tableaux. Already in the prologue we find two gavottes, which began to be played separately soon after the premiere. In Act II, Thésée finds himself in the underworld, and his cries sharply contrast with the wild dancing of demons. In Act III, sailors are in Thésée’s palace giving thanks to Neptune for a safe return from their travels, and the rigaudon is danced twice in celebration. In Act IV in Diana’s grove by the sea, first there is a hunt (here, Rameau employs French horns, which were growing in popularity), then sea monsters arrive to carry off Hippolyte – the tempestuous elements of water and fire are seconded by the wind in the flutes. In Act V, pastoral music is heard with the imitation of bagpipes (musette), and there is a lavishly orchestrated chaconne. The happy reunion of Hippolyte and Aricie is crowned by a gavotte.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15

The first unfinished attempt at a piano concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven dates from 1784. Between 1787 and 1790 Beethoven composed Piano Concerto in B flat major, Op. 19. He revised it several times, and this is why it is designated as his second piano concerto (the first being Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 15, although it came into being as late as 1795). In total, Beethoven composed five piano concertos, leaving the sixth one uncompleted. The Piano Concerto in C major is evidently influenced by Mozart. However, advances in piano construction had enabled Beethoven to enrich the solo part with new elements, to deepen the links between musical ideas of the individual movements in the formal structure, and to considerably expand the harmonic aspect and instrumentation of the accompanying orchestra – in the Piano Concerto in C major he used timpani, clarinets and trumpets in the orchestra for the first time. The first movement opens with an exposition of a march-like character played by the orchestra, which also introduces the second theme. The recapitulation concludes with a technically demanding solo piano cadenza. The cadenzas were originally improvised and formed part of the spontaneous compositional process of Beethoven as both composer and performer; however, in 1809 he worked out a notated cadenza and did so for his subsequent concertos. The final movement in rondo form shows Haydn’s influence in its humorous character. The Piano Concerto in C major was probably first heard on 29 March 1795 in the Hofburg Theater in Vienna on a special concert held for the benefit of the Vienna Composers Society, which looked after the welfare of musicians’ widows and orphans. The main number on the program was an oratorio to the libretto Gioas re di Giuda by Pietro Metastasio, set to music by many composers, this time by the now forgotten Antonio Casimir Cartellieri (1772–1807), a musician in the service of the Lobkowitz family. Beethoven’s new piece was performed as an interlude. “The renowned Ludwig van Beethoven earned the undivided applause of the audience with a completely new concerto on the pianoforte written by himself,” wrote the Wiener Zeitung on 1 April 1795. However, according to some musicologists Beethoven actually played the Piano Concerto in B flat major on this occasion, and the Piano Concerto in C major was likely premiered on 18 December of the same year at an academy in the Redoutensaal hosted by Haydn, who invited Beethoven there. On 29 March 1800, the Wiener Zeitung published the following announcement: “On 2 April 1800, Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will have the honor to give a grand concert for his benefit in the Hofburg Theater.” There the Piano Concerto in C major was performed in its revised, definitive version.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symfonie č. 4 B dur op. 60

When Beethoven’s piano concertos in C and B flat major were published, the composer was already striving towards a completely different musical language. He was re-evaluating every element of musical structure – from harmony and form to instrumental possibilities and orchestration. From a piano virtuoso, had had become a composer, and for entirely practical reasons: Beethoven was losing his hearing. In 1801 he confided in his friend Franz Wegeler: “It’s just that jealous demon, my poor health, that turned my luck for the worse: my hearing grows weaker and weaker.” In each new work of his mature creative period, Beethoven began experimenting with the possibilities of the given musical genre. His Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60, is no exception, and although it is not one of his best-known symphonic works, it rightly won the respect of Hector Berlioz, Robert Schumann, and even Igor Stravinsky. Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony demands an attentive listener. In the first movement, the main theme is heard almost constantly (even as an accompaniment!), while the wind instruments divide the melody of the secondary theme among themselves. A monotonous dotted rhythm accompanies the whole second movement without becoming dull. In the third movement he tried out for the first time what one might call a five-part ternary form (the traditional trio of the minuet appears twice!). Beethoven wrote the Finale as a wild perpetuum mobile with Haydnesque “jokes” (for example, having the main idea appear at a slower tempo before the final fortissimo).