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Czech Philharmonic • Jakub Hrůša


Jakub Hrůša has chosen an original programme. The first half is built upon the artistry of the baritone Christian Gerhaher in moving songs by Gustav Mahler. For Hrůša, finally performing Symphonie liturgique with the Czech Philharmonic is a wish come true.

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

Programme

Ondřej Kukal
Symphony No. 1, Op. 15 „With Glockenspiel“ (26')

Gustav Mahler
Blumine (8')

Gustav Mahler
Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn ‒ selections) (23')
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Where the Fair Trumpets Sound)
Revelge (Reveille)
Der Tamboursg’sell (The Drummer Boy) 
Urlicht

— Intermission —

Arthur Honegger
Symphony No. 3 “Symphonie Liturgique” (30')

Performers

Christian Gerhaher baritone

Jakub Hrůša conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Jakub Hrůša

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

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Price from 350 to 1550 CZK Tickets and contact information

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Tel.: +420 227 059 227
E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer service is available on weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.

 

Cooperation with the Royal Academy of Music

At this week’s Czech Philharmonic subscription concerts, eight students from London’s Royal Academy of Music will be in the orchestra for phase one of a two-year exchange project between the two institutions supported by Mr Michael Hermann’s Gage Foundation.

The Czech Philharmonic began cooperating with the Royal Academy of Music in 2019. Czech Philharmonic chief conductor Semyon Bychkov, who teaches conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and works with its student orchestra, took the initiative in establishing the cooperation. In past years, Czech Philharmonic players have travelled to teach students at the academy. The new programme focuses on education and cultural exchange between members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestral Academy and students at the Royal Academy of Music and offers a chance to access a new musical environment, make contacts, and acquire valuable experience for beginning a professional musical career. During the two-year pilot programme, eight students from the Royal Academy of Music are being sent to Prague, then a year later, eight members of the Czech Philharmonic’s Orchestral Academy will go to London to receive individual instruction, take part in an orchestral project, and participate in Royal Academy of Music masterclasses.

The Royal Academy of Music, founded in 1822, is one of the oldest music schools in the UK. Famous graduates include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Elton John, and Annie Lennox. The Royal Academy of Music provides training in the fields of instrumental performance, composition, jazz, musical theatre, and opera. There are students from more than 50 countries.

Performers

Christian Gerhaher  baritone

Christian Gerhaher

During his studies under Paul Kuen and Raimund Grumbach, German baritone Christian Gerhaher attended the Opera School of the Academy of Music in Munich where he studied lied interpretation with Friedemann Berger. While completing his medical studies Christian Gerhaher perfected his vocal training in master-classes given by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Inge Borkh.  At present Christian Gerhaher, together with Gerold Huber, holds a class in lied interpretation at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre, and occasionally also teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

Together with his regular piano accompanist Gerold Huber, Christian Gerhaher has devoted himself to lied interpretation for well over 30 years now, in concerts and recordings, and over the years they have been awarded several major prizes. The lied duo can be heard regularly on the stages of major international recital centres, for instance in the concert halls of New York, the Muziek- and Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Cologne; they are particularly frequent guests in the Wigmore Hall in London. The Liedwoche Elmau, devised by Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber, takes place for the third time in September 2023.

Christian Gerhaher has worked together with renowned conductors and for 30 years has given concerts in the world’s major concert halls. Orchestras which regularly invite Christian Gerhaher to perform include the London Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and in particular the Berlin Philharmonic, where he was the first ever singer to be artist in residence. 

Besides giving concerts and recitals, Christian Gerhaher is also a highly sought-after performer on the opera stage and has received several prizes such as the Laurence Olivier Award and the theatre prize Der Faust. A milestone in Christian Gerhaher’s opera career was his portrayal of Wozzeck in September 2015 at Zurich Opera House in the celebrated staging by Andreas Homoki. The key role of Wolfram in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser continues to be a constant role in his calendar in the opera houses in Berlin, Vienna, London and Munich and recently at the Salzburg Easter Festival with Andris Nelsons conducting the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. At the end of 2023 Christian Gerhaher makes his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York singing this role.  

Christian Gerhaher’s CDs are issued by Sony Music, with which he has an exclusive partnership. Accompanied by Gerold Huber, the Schubert, Schumann and Mahler cycles have been released on this label. A unique project that preoccupied Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber for years – the complete recording of all Robert Schumann’s songs in a box set – was released by his exclusive label Sony Classical in autumn 2021.  

Christian Gerhaher and his wife live with their three children in Munich.

Jakub Hrůša  principal guest conductor

Jakub Hrůša

Born in the Czech Republic, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Music Director Designate of The Royal Opera, Covent Garden (Music Director from 2025), Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He is the 2023 Opus Klassik Conductor of the Year.

He is a frequent guest with the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Vienna, Berlin, Munich and New York Philharmonics; Bavarian Radio, NHK, Chicago and Boston Symphonies; Leipzig Gewandhaus, Lucerne Festival, Royal Concertgebouw, Mahler Chamber and The Cleveland Orchestras; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. He has led opera productions for the Salzburg Festival (Káťa Kabanová with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2022), Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, and Opéra National de Paris. He has also been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival and served as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years. In the 2023/2024 season, he conducts Janacek’s Jenůfa for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

His relationships with leading vocal and instrumental soloists have included collaborations in recent seasons with Daniil Trifonov, Mitsuko Uchida, Hélène Grimaud, Behzod Abduraimov, Anne Sofie Mutter, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Gautier Capuçon, Julia Fischer, Sol Gabetta, Hilary Hahn, Janine Jansen, Karita Mattila, Leonidas Kavakos, Lang Lang, Josef Špaček, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Alisa Weilerstein and others.

As a recording artist, Jakub Hrusa has received numerous awards and nominations for his discography. Most recently with Bamberg Symphony, he received the ICMA Prize for Symphonic Music in both 2023 and 2022, for his recordings of Rott’s Symphony No. 1 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. He was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for his recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, and in 2021 his recording of Martinů and Bartók violin concertos with Frank Peter Zimmermann was nominated for BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone awards, and his disc of the Dvořák Violin Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Augustin Hadelich was nominated for a Grammy® Award. His recordings of Dvořák and Martinů Piano Concertos with Ivo Kahánek and the Bamberg Symphony (Supraphon), and Vanessa from Glyndebourne (Opus Arte) both won BBC Music Magazine Awards in 2020. 

Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where his teachers included Jiří Bělohlávek. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle and The Dvořák Society, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize, and in 2020 was awarded both the Antonín Dvořák Prize by the Czech Republic’s Academy of Classical Music, and – together with Bamberg Symphony – the Bavarian State Prize for Music.

Compositions

Ondřej Kukal
Symphony No. 1, Op. 15 „With Glockenspiel“

The Prague native Ondřej Kukal is one of the most versatile Czech musicians of his generation. He graduated from the Prague Conservatoire as a violin and conducting student, then he studied violin and composition at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts. From 1985 to 1988 he played second violin in the New Vlach Quartet, and Josef Vlach was the source of inspiration for his conducting career. From 1991 he was the chief conductor of the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in České Budějovice, in 1993 he simultaneously took the helm of the Czech Chamber Orchestra, then from 1996 he was the principal guest conductor of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Prague Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, the government of Bavaria awarded him a stipend for a half-year artist residency in Bamberg, Germany, where he completed, among other things, his Symphony No. 1, Op. 15, “With Glockenspiel”, which he had already begun composing while at the helm of the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kukal’s triple career as a violinist, conductor, and composer has enabled him to give shape to evocative musical ideas with a clear mental picture of the resulting sound, and logical formal structure results from Kukal’s perfect mastery of compositional techniques. The composition is the outgrowth of a motivic foundation, the core of which is the bassoon theme that runs through the whole work, intersecting and linking with other ideas. The isolated entrances of the carillon lend a special quality to the overall musical impression, and rhythmic complexity creates and maintains the musical tension. The symphony was premiered by the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer on 12 April 2000, and in 2005 it won the annual prize of the Czech Copyright Protection Association. 

Arthur Honegger
Symphony No. 3 “Symphonie Liturgique”

The year 1918 saw the formation in Paris of a loose association of musicians known as Les Six (The Six). The members did not share a unified aesthetic programme, but their motto was the ostentatious rejection of the heritage of Neo-Romanticism and Impressionism. Their enchantment with music-hall, cabaret, variety-show, and circus music was short-lived; all of the composers soon went different ways. Arthur Honegger was the first to set out on his own. The 1924 premiere of Pacific 231, a work that uses musical rhythms to evoke a ride in a locomotive, created a scandal. The conductor was Serge Koussevitzky, who commissioned Honegger’s First Symphony (1931), and four more symphonies were written between 1940 and 1950. The Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique” is a reflection of the Second World War. The composer began writing it as the war was ending, and Charles Munch conducted the premiere on 17 August 1946 in Zurich. The Prague premiere took place shortly afterwards on 24 April 1947 with Paul Sacher leading the Czech Philharmonic.

Arthur Honegger compared the symphony to a drama for three characters: “misery, happiness, and man.” The drama is also expressed in the liturgical titles of the three movements – movement I “Dies irae” (Day of Wrath) takes its title from the Requiem Mass, the title of movement II “De profundis clamavi ad te Domine” (Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord) is the incipit of Psalm 130, and the title of movement III “Dona nobis pacem” (Grant us peace) comes from the Agnus Dei of the Ordinary of the Mass. In the first movement, there are two levels of thematic content representing the reality of evil and the idea of the power of human life struggling towards the light. The second movement speaks hopefully, then in the final movement (all of Honegger’s symphonies are in three movements), an energetic march definitively defeats evil, and a new, harmonious world arises from the ruins.

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