Czech Philharmonic • Giovanni Antonini

Two orchestras will take turns on stage during this programme: the Czech Student Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic. The junior ensemble will begin with a Mozart symphony and will experience working with the outstanding conductor Giovanni Antonini, who will also be the soloist in a concerto by Telemann.

Subscription series A | Duration of the programme 1 hour 40 minutes


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550 (35')

— Intermission —

Georg Philipp Telemann
Concerto in C major for recorder, strings and basso continuo, TWV 51:C1 (16')

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 41 C major, K 551, “Jupiter” (31')


Stefano Barneschi violin, concertmaster

Giovanni Antonini conductor, recorder

Czech Youth Philharmonic  

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Giovanni Antonini

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

Studentské vstupné

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Normální vstupné

Dress rehearsal
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Price from 290 to 1400 CZK Tickets and contact information

The sale of individual tickets for subscription concerts (orchestral, chamber, educational) will begin on Wednesday 7 June 2023 at 10.00 a.m. Tickets for the public dress rehearsals will go on sale on 13 September 2023 at 10.00 a.m.

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“To me, Prague is a magical place, and I take every visit there to give a concert as a special opportunity. I am doubly looking forward to this visit because I will be conducting not only the great Czech Philharmonic, but also the Czech Student Philharmonic. As an orchestra with a long tradition, the Czech Philharmonic is now opening up to new ways of interpreting the classical repertoire. And young musicians are the future of classical music. Their energy and desire to learn are the engine that drives music, and they set an example for other young people that they draw to concert halls”, wrote Maestro Antonini.

The partner of the concerts of the Czech Youth Philharmonic is the VZP.


Stefano Barneschi  violin

Born in Milan but with strong Tuscan roots, he studied violin at the Civica Scuola di Musica under the lead of Carlo De Martini graduating in 1991. In the same year he joined the young baroque ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, starting a long career and playing in the most important festivals and musical seasons all over the world, performing with many prestigious artists including Isabelle Faust, Viktoria Mullova, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Giuliano Carmignola, Christophe Coin, Giovanni Sollima, Cecilia Bartoli, Julia Lehzneva. In 2001 he became concertmaster of the ensemble.

His recognized expertise in this role has brought him to lead many ensembles specialized in playing on historical instruments such as Anima Eterna Brugge, Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla, La Scintilla, I Barocchisti, Il Pomo dʼOro, La Divina Armonia. Heʼs regularly invited as concertmaster by the Kammerorchester Basel. In October 2019 he made his debut as concertmaster of the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala in Milan performing Handel’s Giulio Cesare conducted by Giovanni Antonini.

He has recorded for Teldec, Naïve, Decca, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Winter&Winter, Passacaille, Amadeus, Alpha and many other labels.

He plays a 1830 violin by Giacinto Santagiuliana.

Giovanni Antonini  conductor, recorder

Giovanni Antonini

Born in Milan, Giovanni Antonini studied at the Civica Scuola di Musica and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva. He is a founder member of the Baroque ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, which he has led since 1989. With this ensemble he has appeared as conductor and soloist on the recorder and Baroque transverse flute in Europe, United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia. He is Artistic Director of Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Poland and Principal Guest Conductor of Mozarteum Orchester and Kammerorchester Basel.

He has performed with many prestigious artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Giuliano Carmignola, Isabelle Faust, Sol Gabetta, Sumi Jo, Viktoria Mullova, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Emmanuel Pahud and Giovanni Sollima. Renowned for his refined and innovative interpretation of the classical and baroque repertoire, Antonini is also a regular guest with Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, London Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

His opera productions have included Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli at Salzburg Festival. In 2018 he conducted Orlando at Theater an der Wien and returned to Opernhaus Zurich for Idomeneo. In 2019 he conducted Giulio Cesare for La Scala, and returned there in 2021 for Così fan tutte. He also returned to Theater an der Wien in 2021 with Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo. In the 2022/2023 season, he returns to Bamberger Symphoniker for Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for Pugnani’s Werther, Czech Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

With Il Giardino Armonico Antonini has recorded numerous CDs of instrumental works by Vivaldi, J. S. Bach (Brandenburg Concertos), Biber and Locke for Teldec. With Naïve he recorded Vivaldi’s opera Ottone in Villa, and for Decca he has recorded 2 volumes of Händelʼs works with Julia Lezhneva. With Alpha Classics (Outhere Music Group) he released various albums including La Morte della Ragione, exploring his interest in renaissance music through collections of sixteenth and seventeenth century instrumental music. With Kammerorchester Basel he has recorded the complete Beethoven Symphonies for Sony Classical and a disc of flute concertos with Emmanuel Pahud entitled Revolution for Warner Classics.

Antonini is Artistic Director of the Haydn2032 project, created to realise a vision to record and perform with Il Giardino Armonico and Kammerorchester Basel the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn by the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The first twelve volumes have been released on the Alpha Classics label with two further volumes planned for release every year.

The Czech Youth Philharmonic  

In the modern history of the Czech Philharmonic, when the first steps were being taken towards an educational programme, the idea arose in 2006 – while Václav Riedlbauch was still the executive director – of giving symphonic concerts for student audiences, i.e. for a new generation of listeners. And who would be playing? The Czech Philharmonic, of course! The problem was that the orchestra was already so busy that their participation in such concerts was out of the question. So the choice fell to the former Prague Student Orchestra, an ensemble with many years of tradition of a youthful, enthusiastic approach to music. This worked wonderfully, because the students in the audience saw their peers on stage. For these concerts, the ensemble took the name Czech Student Orchestra. Bound by their love of music, these musicians gave performances from 2006 to 2010 under the leadership of the conductor Marko Ivanović, playing such works as Janáček’s Sinfonietta, Dvořák’s New World Symphony, Cello Concerto, and Te Deum, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet suite.

When new management took over in 2011, the Czech Philharmonic greatly expanded its educational activities, and that was an opportunity for renewal of the student orchestra’s activities, renamed as the Czech Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. The idea is to give the rising generation of musicians – mostly students at music schools, whether grammar schools with a music emphasis, conservatoires, or academies of music – the regular opportunity of rehearsing and performing great symphonic, concertante, and choral works. Over time, the efforts turned towards creating a permanent orchestra that would support its members in the perfecting of their ensemble playing and in the creation of long-term relationships and mutual understanding. The Czech Philharmonic Youth Orchestra musicians also serve as “bearers of light” in relation to their peers by showing them that young people can love classical music and can present it enthusiastically to others.

Since the 2013/2014 season, the orchestra has been performing regularly at concerts of the Czech Philharmonic’s educational series Four Steps to the New World (under the baton of Marko Ivanović), and at the series Penguins at the Rudolfinum (with Vojtěch Jouza) and Who’s Afraid of the Philharmonic? (with Ondřej Vrabec). In April 2019, the Czech Philharmonic Youth Orchestra appeared with Ida Kelarová and the Čhavorenge children’s choir at Šun Devloro concerts – musical celebrations of International Romani Day. In November 2019, the orchestra played under the baton of Robert Kružík at the Students’ Day Concert with the participation of Joachim Gauck and Petr Pithart.

In June 2020 the conductor Simon Rattle came to Prague insisting that he did not want to conduct just the Czech Philharmonic, but also “some orchestra with young people”. When the choice fell to the Czech Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, that was an enormous challenge for its members. Sir Simon enjoyed working with the young musicians, and he was unsparing in his praise: “The Czech Philharmonic Youth Orchestra reminds me of the orchestra of the Verbier Festival, which is made up of the best music students from all around the world, led by players from the Metropolitan Opera. That’s the level they are on.” Those are nice, flattering words, but they also mean an enormous obligation for all of the young musicians, as far as their future is concerned. Each individually and all of them together have it within their reach through the power of their common bond to remain diligent and conscientious in their preparation and to concentrate as attentively as possible. In the autumn of 2020 they were able to play just two concerts with Josef Špaček in the dual role of soloist and conductor. “I would really like to work with them again sometime; they were so attentive and kind! I had an incredibly good time with them,” said Josef Špaček afterwards.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550 & Symphony No. 41 C major, K 551, “Jupiter”

For the 32-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1788 was a year full of loss and disappointment. Upon his return from Prague, he obtained a position at the imperial court he had desired, but instead of being made court composer, he was put in charge of chamber music with less than half the salary. Until Mozart’s death in Vienna, the position of court composer remained vacant. His Prague opera Don Giovanni got a chilly reception in Vienna, and the lack of interest in his other compositions caused him financial problems. For this reason, that summer Mozart wrote three big symphonies that turned out to be his last: E flat major, K 543, G minor, K 550, and C major, K 551. There has been speculation about the purpose for which they were composed. Mozart may have intended to have them published by Artaria, which had printed Haydn’s Paris Symphonies not long beforehand. He may have been placing his hopes on a planned journey to London, where those symphonies could have served him well as an introduction. What is certain is that all three of these symphonies were received very positively soon after Mozart’s death, and they came to represent the phenomenon of symphonic music to the music critics of the period. 

Mozart finished his Symphony in G minor on 25 July 1788 and assigned it the number 40, then it was given the number 550 in the Köchel catalogue. The work’s emotional power is highly original, and its unconventionality is also reflected by, among of things, the choice of key. According to the aesthetics of the period, a composition’s character corresponded to the key in which it was written. Mozart only wrote two minor-key symphonies (both in G minor, so this work is sometimes called the “Great G minor”), and there are also only two piano concertos in minor keys. At the same time, the symphony reflects features of an artistic movement known as Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), which emphasised strong emotions. There are also differences in its orchestration: the work does not call for otherwise commonly used trumpets and timpani, and Mozart even added clarinets to the definitive revision before those instruments were routinely employed in symphonies.

The first movement begins not with lush harmonies in accordance with tradition, but instead with just a quiet accompaniment by the strings, anticipating the mournfully sighing violin melody and forming an inconspicuous undertone throughout the movement. The contrasting chromatic second theme is in the major mode and is divided between the strings and the winds. In the recapitulation, it appears in the minor mode. There are more surprises as the symphony progresses. Against the background of the seemingly monotonous beginning of the second movement, the composer begins to play subtle games, creating tension with accents and melodic contrasts, in which the timbres of the wind instruments play an important role. The usual light, brilliant menuet is replaced by a weighty movement, and only the trio brings relief briefly. The finale is also chromatic, with a main theme for strings based on an arpeggio. Few works of the Classical era show the direct path to the Romanticism of the 19th century as clearly as does the Symphony in G minor.

Two weeks later, on 10 August 1788, Mozart made the following entry in a list of his compositions written in his own hand: “Symphony. 2 violins, 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, violas, and basses.” His very last symphonic work contrasts with the tense, gloomy Symphony in G minor—its mood is jubilant with a tendency towards monumentality. Thanks to the huge fourth movement, the work began to be known as the “symphony with the fugal finale”. In 1808, the journal Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung wrote that in Leipzig the work was “so popular among local lovers of the arts that it could not be denied them even for a single year.” The Symphony No. 41 in C major, K 551, was also highly regarded in London, where the score was published in 1810 with the motto “the highest triumph of instrumental composition”. The symphony has the enduring nickname “Jupiter”, which first appeared in the programme of the Edinburgh Music Festival in October 1819 and then in London at a concert of the Royal Philharmonic Society and in reviews of the concert. The symphony probably got its nickname from the London violinist and musical entrepreneur Johann Peter Salomon, emphasising the work’s quality by identifying it metaphorically with the king of the Roman gods. And the symphony’s nickname caught on.

The main theme of the first movement contains two mutually contrasting motifs: an energetic one in forte for the whole orchestra, and a more melodic one for the strings played piano. The violins and violas introduce the second theme, then the whole orchestra plays a forte third theme. The beginning of the second movement is imbued with inner calm and luminescence, yet it is only in this movement that we find any hint of the dark shadows so typical of the Symphony in G minor. That mood emerges in the second theme, characterised by the key of C minor and the unsettling rhythm of the violins. The violins are to be muted throughout the movement, dampening their sound. A gentle menuet frames a trio built on a contrast between its playful introduction and an energetic middle section. The fourth movement is one of the most remarkable pieces of music that Mozart ever wrote—this is probably the first time in the history of the symphony that a finale is given weight equal to or even greater that that of the first movement. Moreover, the composer displays an incredible synthesis of old and new, combining fugue with sonata form, “learned” polyphony with “gallant” homophony, the Baroque with Classicism. Right at the beginning, the second violins play the main theme, which is further treated fugally, taken up successively by the first violins, violas, and cellos. Mozart uses a total of four themes and combines them with each other! In addition, all of this contrapuntal mastery is built upon the clear foundation of sonata form. The Jupiter Symphony is regarded as a highpoint of 18th-century symphonic music for good reason.

Georg Philipp Telemann
Concerto in C major for recorder, strings and basso continuo, TWV 51:C1

In the era of modern media, the life and career of the Magdeburg native Georg Philipp Telemann would undoubtedly enjoy enormous attention and popularity. After all, even in the 18th century he managed to earn fame as the greatest living composer despite being a contemporary of Bach and Handel. He was in every respect completely self-taught because his mother, a widow, did not regard education as important. Without any support whatsoever, he learned to play flute, violin, viola da gamba, oboe, trombone, contrabass, and various keyboard instruments, and he discovered the mysteries of musical composition for himself. At age 20, he departed for Leipzig to study law, but that city instead awakened in him an even greater desire to be a musician. During his first year there, he became the assistant to the organist Johann Kuhnau at St Thomas’s Church and the organist at the university chapel, and he reorganised the students’ collegium musicum into an efficient orchestra that gave public concerts. For this reason, the Leipzig city government made him the director of the local opera company, for which he wrote four operas in quick succession. Just a few years later, we find Telemann in the Silesian town Sorau (today Żary, Poland) serving as the Kapellmeister. There, he became familiar with Polish and Moravian music. Next he was at the court in Eisenach, then in 1712 he became church choirmaster and director of music for the city of Frankfurt am Main. Finally, he caught on in Hamburg, where he was the city’s music director from 1721 until his death. That prestigious position included responsibility for the music at the five main churches and the operations of the Hamburg Opera, the position of head cantor at the Johanneum, a famous music school, leading the students’ collegium musicum, and organising public concerts.

All of these duties involved providing repertoire, so Telemann became one of the most prolific composers in music history (including the creation of 31 annual cycles of cantatas for every Sunday). He had remarkable knowledge of a wide range of the styles of the period, and he was able to imitate both the Italian and the French idioms despite having almost never left the territory of present-day Germany. By combining influences, he created his own style, usually described as “mixed” or “German”. His compositions stand out for their melodic originality, colourful harmonies, soaring rhythms, and imaginative orchestration. Dozens of his compositions appeared in print in his lifetime and were played all over Germany. However, there was a radical stylistic change soon after his death, as we hear in the music of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Then the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel was rediscovered in the 19th century, and only yet another century later did Telemann’s music again begin to find renewed appreciation.

Georg Philipp Telemann also wrote several instrumental concertos: six for violin, two for viola, eight for French horn, five for trumpet, two for chalumeaux, six for oboe, one for bassoon, five for recorder, and four for transverse flute. In 1725 he composed the Concerto in C major for alto recorder, strings, and basso continuo, which mostly exhibits Italian influences. There are many concertos for the “flauto dolce”, as the recorder was called in Italian, written by Telemann’s contemporaries including the great composer Antonio Vivaldi.