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Czech Philharmonic • Dresden


In June, the Czech Philharmonic will bring to Dresden a programme consisting entirely of works by Bedřich Smetana. At the traditional Dresdner Musikfestspiele, the orchestra will play under the direction of its guest conductor Jakub Hrůša.

Programme

Bedřich Smetana
Bartered Bride, overture to the opera
Georginen Polka in D major
Festive Overture in D major, Op. 4
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life", 1st movement
Hakon Jarl, symphonic poem, Op. 16

— Intermission —

Bedřich Smetana
The Two Widows, overture to the opera
"From My Homeland" for violin and orchestra (arr. Tomáš Ille)
The Prague Carnival
Vltava, symphonic poem from the cycle My Country

Performers

Jakub Hrůša conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Dresden

Dresdner Musikfestspiele — Kulturpalast Dresden

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Performers

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

Bedřich Smetana
The Bartered Bride, overture to the opera

As the Year of Czech Music, 2024 will be above all the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884), while other important anniversaries—120 years since Dvořák’s death, 170 years since Janáček’s birth, and 150th birthdays of Nedbal and Suk—may be overshadowed. The Czech Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert, however, is a celebration that will not overlook any of them, although Smetana gets the first word. Few compositions in the treasury of classical music are as familiar to listeners as the Overture to The Bartered Bride (1863). Contrary to the usual procedure, it was with the overture that Bedřich Smetana began work on his second opera, this time a comedy (a “plaything”, as he put it, in comparison with the previous, more serious opera The Brandenburgers in Bohemia). He wrote the overture in sonata form and connected it motivically to the end of Act II. The Bartered Bride was first played on the stage of the Provisional Theatre on 30 May 1866, and it had been performed there more than 110 times before the theatre ceased operations on 14 April 1883.

Bedřich Smetana
Pražský karneval

On 14 September 1883, when Bedřich Smetana finished the score of his Introduction and Polonaise, the first two movements of the cycle Prague Carnival, he did not know that he had only the last half year of life. He had originally intended that Prague Carnival would follow up stylistically on his cycle of Bohemian Dances. The composer wanted to develop further the idea of a cyclical ordering of dances in the loftier genre of the symphonic poem he had employed in Má vlast (My Country). Fate, however, intervened. Smetana never finished his last two compositions; Prague Carnival and the opera Viola remained torsos. The composer was unable to attend the first performance of the Introduction and Polonaise in April 1884 because of his rapidly worsening illness, although the concert was a celebration of this sixtieth birthday. The performance left the audience perplexed. According to period reports, the work made a depressing impression on Smetana’s friends, and it was long regarded as a failure or even as being decadent. The fragmentariness, succinctness, and harmonic astringency that are typical of Smetana’s late works are in fact connections back to his progressive Gothenburg period, and in the Polonaise, the composer even employed a theme he had already notated in his sketchbook in 1858.

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