Czech Philharmonic • Leonidas Kavakos

Last December, when Leonidas Kavakos appeared with the Czech Philharmonic for the first time in the dual role of soloist and conductor, it was obvious that the players and the soloist would want to repeat this collaboration as soon as possible.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Concerto No 3 in G Major, K 216 (“Strassburg”) 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K 183
Johannes Brahms
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68


Leonidas Kavakos violin, conductor

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Leonidas Kavakos

Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall

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Last December, when Leonidas Kavakos appeared with the Czech Philharmonic for the first time in the dual role of soloist and conductor, it was obvious that the players and the soloist would want to repeat this collaboration as soon as possible. The musical and human understanding between them was clear both on stage and from the auditorium and as soon as an opportunity arose to entrust one of the programmes of the new season to this extraordinary artist, we did not hesitate even for a second. His last programme was a tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven and this time Leonidas Kavakos has chosen the music of Mozart and Brahms for his Prague appearance.

The symphony and violin concerto you will hear in the first half of the programme are the music of a very young composer. Mozart wrote his Violin Concerto in G Major at the age of nineteen and the Symphony in G Minor when he was just seventeen. In a letter to his father, he called the Concerto in G Major the “Salzburg Concerto”. Musicologists attribute this name to the use of a local dance theme at the beginning of the third movement. The symphony has come to be known as the “Little G Minor” in order to differentiate it from the more famous Symphony No. 40, also in G minor. Czech film director Miloš Forman made the “Little G Minor” famous by choosing it as the music for the beginning of his celebrated film Amadeus.

“Hoch auf’m Berg, tief im Tal grüß ich dich viel tausend mal!” “From the mountain peaks and the depths of the valley, I greet thee many thousands of times!“ Brahms heard a shepherd’s tune with these lyrics while in the Alps and as a birthday greeting for Clara Schumann, he inserted it into the introduction to the fourth movement of his First Symphony. Because of the work’s compositional mastery and the use of a paraphrase of the Ode to Joy theme, this symphony is sometimes referred to as Beethoven’s Tenth.


Leonidas Kavakos  violin

Leonidas Kavakos

Leonidas Kavakos is recognized across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, acclaimed for his matchless technique, his captivating artistry and his superb musicianship, and the integrity of his playing. He works regularly with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and plays as recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals.

Kavakos has developed close relationships with major orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Kavakos also works closely with the Dresden Staatskapelle, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich Philharmonic and Budapest Festival orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala.

In recent years, Kavakos has succeeded in building a strong profile as a conductor and has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Most recently he had a great success conducting the Israel Philharmonic.

In the 2022/2023 season, Kavakos is honoured as Artist in Residence at Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, where he will appear as both violinist and conductor across the season. He will tour Europe with Yuja Wang, as well as return to the US with regular recital partners Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. Kavakos will perform a number of concerts throughout Europe and the Middle East with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Daniel Harding, as well as return to the Vienna Philharmonic, Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Hamburg, the New York Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic. He will also conduct the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, RAI Torino and the Minnesota Orchestra. He has two extensive visits to Asia, including a residency at Tongyeong International Music Festival, in addition to a series of recitals in Japan and South Korea where he will perform Bach’s Partitas and Sonatas, following the release of his critically acclaimed album “Bach: Sei Solo” in 2022.

Kavakos is an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classics. Further recent releases from the Beethoven 250th Anniversary year include the Beethoven Violin Concerto which he conducted and played with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and the rerelease of his 2007 recording of the complete Beethoven Sonatas with Enrico Pace, for which he was named Echo Klassik Instrumentalist of the year. In 2022 Kavakos released “Beethoven for Three: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5” arranged for trio, with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. The second album from this series containing further arrangements of Beethoven Symphonies will be released in Autumn 2022.

Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, which attracts violinists and ensembles from all over the world. He plays the “Willemotte” Stradivarius violin of 1734.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in G Major, KV 216

During his life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed five violin concertos, the first in 1773, the other ones in 1775. In them he capitalized on the experience from his trips to Italy, the knowledge of French music and the inspiration drawn from Josef Mysliveček, a Czech composer living in Italy. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in G major, KV 216 was heard for the first time at the court of the Salzburg archbishop; it was probably performed by the court violinist Antonio Brunetti. The composition modeled after Vivaldi consists of three movements. Mozart borrowed the theme of the opening energetic Allegro from his opera Il re pastore; he did it not because he would lack inventiveness, but rather because this theme was more suitable for the violin than for singing. The enchanting Adagio with a dance central section played by woodwind instruments is followed by Rondeau, which quotes from at least one French folk tune. Mozart ends the whole concerto with his characteristic unpredictability: instead of an orchestral tutti, the listeners are bid farewell by the woodwind section in the weakened dynamics, evoking a feeling of disappearing music.

Johannes Brahms
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Johannes Brahms needed a very long time to build up the courage to compose a first symphony. The embryo for a symphony became a composition for two pianos, the material of which he ultimately used for his Piano Concerto No. 1. The first drafts of the symphony date from 1862, but he let his plans mature for another fourteen years. The Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68, was first performed on 4 November 1876 in Karlsruhe with Felix Otto Dessoff conducting. After the premiere Brahms made corrections to the score and gave the work its final form in 1877. The symphony opens with a slow introduction accompanied by tympani strokes. The main theme, spanning an octave and a half, is played by the strings, while the second theme is entrusted mainly to the winds, then the third theme is again for strings. The development section mostly deals with the second and third themes, then the recapitulation is followed by a brief coda. The second movement is in ternary form, and the woodwind instruments are quite prominent. The woodwinds again play an important role in the third movement, also in ternary form. The final movement is in an entirely original two-part form. It begins with an atypical slow introduction in which the strings alternate between pizzicato and legato playing. In a linking passage marked più andante, a melody played by the French horn is passed to the flute and then to other instruments. Only thereafter does the main theme arrive, which is reminiscent of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Not only for that reason, but also because of the work’s Beethovenian model of formal transformation and its dramatic impact, the symphony has been nicknamed “Beethoven’s Tenth”.