Czech Philharmonic • Jana Boušková

Juanjo Mena, the Spanish conductor at the helm of the BBC Philharmonic, is taking us on a trip to Spain, blazing with colours, sounds, and fragrances. The programme opens with Danzas fantásticas (1919), the best-known work by Joaquín Turina.

Subscription series B | Duration of the programme 1 hour 35 minutes


Joaquín Turina
Danzas fantásticas, op. 22 (17')

Joaquín Rodrigo
Concierto de Aranjuez (arranged for harp) (21')
Claude Debussy
Iberia, Part II of the cycle Images pour orchestre (20')

Maurice Ravel
Bolero (13')


Jana Boušková harp

Juanjo Mena conductor

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Jana Boušková

Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall

Dress rehearsal
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Juanjo Mena, the Spanish conductor at the helm of the BBC Philharmonic, is taking us on a trip to Spain, blazing with colours, sounds, and fragrances. The programme opens with Danzas fantásticas (1919), the best-known work by Joaquín Turina. Although originally written for piano solo, it is the orchestral version that has become famous.

Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez takes us to the gardens of the royal palace in Aranjuez, which King Philip II had built in the sixteenth century. Rodrigo perfectly succeeded at evoking the sounds of nature through music. He describes the first movement as being “full of rhythm and energy”, the second movement is a dialogue between the harp and soloists in the orchestra on oboe, bassoon, English horn, and French horn. The third movement is an imitation of a courtly dance. The premières took place in 1940 in Barcelona and Madrid with solo guitar. It was not until 1974 that Rodrigo transcribed the work for harp at the request of Nicanor Zabaleta. Famous versions of the Concierto de Aranjuez have also been recorded by flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía and jazz trumpet player Miles Davis, who took inspiration from the slow movement.

Iberia from Debussy’s orchestral work Images leads us through the streets and the paths of Spain, the fragrances of the night, and the morning of a festive day. The concert will then conclude with one of the most famous compositions, Ravel’s Bolero. It would not have taken much and this classical “hit” might never have seen the light of day. At the request of Ida Rubinstein, Ravel had originally just wanted to orchestrate Albéniz’s Iberia, but he was long unable to acquire the rights to it. By the time he finally succeeded, Ravel already had a different plan: “Write a theme that lasts about a minute and repeat it for eighteen minutes.”


Jana Boušková  harp

Jana Boušková

Jana Boušková studied at the Prague Conservatory and graduated from the Ostrava University in Libuše Váchová’s class. She was then accepted to the prestigious Indiana University and studied with Susann McDonald. She is the only Czech harpist to win the world’s top International Harp Competition which takes place in the USA (1992). In the same year, she won the 2nd prize at the International Harp Contest in Israel, which has the longest tradition among harp competitions, being also the only Czech harpist to be invited to this competition. She also won the Concours International de Musique de Chambre (France) and the Torneo Internazionale di Musica (Italy). She received the “Lady Pro” award for the top ten most significant Czech female personalities as the first ever classical musician.

Jana Boušková performs as a soloist and with chamber ensembles in the Czech Republic and abroad at prestigious concert stages such as the Alice Tully Hall – Lincoln Center (New York), the Theatre Châtelet in Paris, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Prague Spring Festival and the Berliner Festtage. As a soloist she has appeared with many Czech and international orchestras at the Carnegie Hall in New York, Berlin Philharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Symphony Center in Chicago, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Rudolfinum in Prague and many others.

Besides the solo career Jana Boušková devotes herself to pedagogical activity and teaches simultaneously at the Royal Academy in Brussels and at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She is the Czech Philharmonic principal harp player and is being regularly invited to participate in world renowned harp congresses and symposiums and leads masterclasses all over the world. She teaches at prestigious schools including the Indiana University in the USA and Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva.

The vast repertoire of Jana Boušková includes compositions of all eras. Numerous Czech and foreign contemporary composers have written music directly for her. She has recorded more than twenty CDs for Czech and international labels and made recordings for radio and television companies. Jana Boušková is the official player of the prestigious Lyon & Healy harp producer and plays the instrument by this US company, which she won in the International Harp Competition in 1992.

Juanjo Mena  conductor

Juanjo Mena began his conducting career in his native Spain as Music Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. His uncommon talent was soon recognized internationally with appointments as Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic and Chief Guest Conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In 2011 he was named Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, taking the orchestra on tours of Europe and Asia and conducting annual televised concerts at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. His BBC tenure featured “thrilling” (The Guardian) performances of Bruckner Symphonies, a cycle of Schubert Symphonies and set new standards for the interpretation of Spanish and South American repertoire. He currently holds the position of Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, the longest running choral festival in North America.

Juanjo Mena has led Europe’s top ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich among others. He also appears regularly with all the major orchestras in his native Spain. He has conducted most of North America’s leading orchestras, including the Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Toronto Symphonies, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is a regular guest conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.

Juanjo Mena’s 2022/2023 season starts with him leading the Teatro Real Orchestra (the Royal Opera of Madrid) in its historic Carnegie Hall debut. Other guest performances this season include his debut with the Dallas Symphony and the Czech Philharmonic and returns to the Minnesota Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Lucerne Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Danish National Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic. May 2023 marks Juanjo Mena’s final performances as Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, concluding his pivotal six-year tenure at the organization during which he has expanded commissioning of new works and put the community at the heart of the Festival. 

Mena’s rich discography with the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos includes Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6, an acclaimed Gabriel Pierné release selected as a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, Ginastera’s orchestral works and new reference recordings of lesser-performed Spanish repertoire including Arriaga’s orchestral pieces, works by Albéniz, Montsalvatge and Turina, and three discs of works by Manuel de Falla. In 2012 Juanjo Mena recorded Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony with the Bergen Philharmonic for the Hyperion label, a disc said to “utterly redefine the terms under which past/current/future Turangalîlas need to be judged” (Gramophone).


Maurice Ravel

Exotická barevnost, nezvyklá harmonie a ohnivá rytmika hudby Pyrenejského poloostrova okouzlovala francouzské tvůrce také následujících generací, zvláště ty ovlivněné uměleckým světem impresionismu. Stopy iberských inspirací nalezneme mimo jiné v takových významných dílech, jako byly orchestrální triptych Images a klavírní cyklus Estampes Clauda Debussyho či orchestrální skladby Maurice Ravela Španělská rapsodieBolero, které je též na programu dnešního koncertu.

Ke kompozici díla vycházejícího z rytmu španělského tance nasměrovala Ravela, který sám byl po matce Bask, tanečnice Ida Rubinstein, která si u něj v roce 1928 objednala pro svou baletní společnost orchestraci šesti kusů z cyklu klavírních skladeb Iberia španělského impresionisty Isaaca Albénize. V průběhu práce se Ravel dozvěděl, že orchestrální verze již existuje a autorská práva neumožňují vznik jiných aranží. Autor této úpravy, španělský dirigent Enrique Fernández Arbós, sice nadšeně udělil Ravelovi souhlas s instrumentováním, Ravel se ale mezitím rozhodl zkomponovat pro Idu Rubinstein vlastní skladbu v rytmu španělského tance bolera.

Mimořádně úspěšná premiéra baletního představení v choreografii Bronislavy Nižinské se konala v pařížské opeře 22. listopadu 1928 a předznamenala nesmírnou popularitu, jíž se toto Ravelovo dílo dodnes těší. Skladba je založena na ostinátním rytmu malého bubnu. Nad tímto rytmem se střídají dvě melodie, které v nezměněné podobě prostupují celým dílem – jedna diatonická a rytmicky symetrická, druhá se synkopami a jazzově sníženými tóny. Zaznívají ovšem v obměňované instrumentaci a v neustále zesilované dynamice a postupně mohutnícím obsazení.