The 125th Anniversary Season of the Czech Philharmonic

The Czech Philharmonic is to begin its anniversary season with two concerts, on the 23rd and 24th under the baton of its chief conductor Semyon Bychkov.

Until further notice, the Czech Philharmonic will perform with special hygienic measures: the audience divided such that those seated on the parterre and on the balcony don’t come into contact and all audience members will be required to wear face masks. Only some planned tours were canceled (Spain, Great Britain, China, Taiwan). Others, like the prestigious anniversary tour of Europe in 2021 (Vienna, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London) have not. On tour, the philharmonic will performs repertoire by A. Dvořák and M. Kabeláč (Mysterium času) among others. Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil are returning as permanent guest conductors.

The Czech Philharmonic is continuing its mission of performing and recording the complete symphonies of G. Mahler and the 7th to 9th symphonies of A. Dvořák with Semyon Bychkov along with the symphonic works of J. Suk with Jakub Hrůša (to be completed by 2024, for the Year of Czech Music). The philharmonic is also programming more contemporary music, at the behest of its new chief-conductor. In the coming season, they will perform works by Bryce DessnerDetlev Glanert and Thomas Larcher, which they will also perform abroad. In addition, they will perform commissions by nine Czech and five foreign composers.

Thanks, among other things, to the quality recording studio the philharmonic aquaired in 2018, the orchestra has begun collaborating with prestigious distributors and media companies– EuroArts and Mezzo.tv (the latter bought all of their recording from 2018 to 2019 and will continue to collaborate with the orchestra). In addition, the Czech Philharmonic is launching its own brand, Czech Phil Media for sound recordings and Studio Rudolfinum for audio-visual recordings, which is a trend fortified by the philharmonic’s experience during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic which required – and still requires – low costs and flexibility.

When it comes to programmed segments, the philharmonic is also launching an annual series on November 17th, called Concerts for Freedom and Democracy (Koncerty za svobodu a demokracii) which will include M. Kabeláč’s  Mysterium času and the 7th (Leningrad) Symphony by D. Schostakovitch. Chief conductor Semyon Bychkov, who was born in Leningrad, has a particularly close relationship with the latter – his mother survived an air strike thanks to a bomb that didn’t go off.

The philharmonic is also adding concert versions of operas to its program. In December 2020 it will perform Ariadna by B. Martinů under the baton of guest conductor Tomáš Netopil and in 2021 The Cunning Little Vixen with John Eliot Gardiner. Two concerts will be dedicated to the anniversary of L. van Beethovena and will consist of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th piano concertos, interpreted and led from the piano by Rudolf Buchbinder and, for the January concert, the 5th and 6th symphony conducted by guest conductor Manfred Honeck.

The philharmonic’s, already broad, educational program is being expanded to include workshops for audiences over the age of 60. The building itself will also be improved, with adjustments made to the gift shop and parts of the entrance area.

For its anniversary, the Czech Philharmonic, in collaboration with the National Heritage Institute and the National Technical Museum, has prepared a rather extensive publication (editors: Jakub BachtíkLukáš DuchekJakub Jareš) under the title Chrám umění: Rudolfinum (Temple of Art: Rudolfinum) which will be out on September 15th 2020 with the Kosmas publishing house.

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