In 2024 we mark the 75th anniversary of the Prague Spring International Music Competition. Over the three quarters of a century since it was established, the competition has helped to launch the stellar career of numerous Czech and foreign musicians. Now they will be coming to Prague once more from various parts of the world in order to join forces in a special gala concert to celebrate the birthday of a contest that means so much to young musicians. They will be accompanied by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, headed by renowned conductor Jakub Klecker.
“The Prague Spring International Music Competition was an important milestone at the beginning of my career – for that I would like to express my sincerest gratitude,” recalls one of the world’s finest contemporary trumpeters Gábor Boldoczki. “The hospitable atmosphere during this period has remained one of my fondest memories. It is always a great pleasure for me to perform in Prague,” the 1997 laureate adds. For this edition of the festival he will perform the world premiere of a new piece, Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, written specially for the occasion by leading Czech composer Sylvie Bodorová.
The second artist to perform at the event will be cellist Victor Julien-Laferrière, who followed up his Prague victory in 2012 with his triumph at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels five years later. In the Rudolfinum’s Dvořák Hall this French musician, who appears as a soloist with some of the world’s finest orchestras, will perform the famous Variations on a Rococo Theme by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. As the title suggests, this classic of Russian Romanticism was here inspired by the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom he very much admired.
The music of the Salzburg native is included in the second half of the programme; five competition prizewinners will come together in a unique formation to perform Sinfonia concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, French Horn and Orchestra in E flat major. The oboe part will be played by winner of the 2014 competition Johannes Grosso, principal oboe with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Frankfurt Opera, who has appeared as a soloist under such conducting names as Daniele Gatti and Christoph von Dohnányi.
The clarinet part will be performed by prizewinner from 2015 Anna Paulová, a regular feature on the domestic classical scene. The part of the French horn, which Mozart furnished with wonderful solos in the symphony’s lyrical slow movement, was entrusted to winner of the 2017 competition Kateřina Javůrková, who today holds positions in the Czech Philharmonic and the Belfiato Quintet. A year later the competition was won by another representative of the Czech wind school, Jan Hudeček, currently solo bassoonist in the National Theatre Orchestra in Prague and also principal bassoon in the prestigious ensemble Solistes Européens Luxembourg.
The Prague Spring competition also provided a springboard for the dazzling career of the Pavel Haas Quartet, today one of the world’s best and – in the eyes of critics and audiences alike – most highly regarded string quartets. To round off the gala concert, accompanied by the Radio Orchestra, they will perform String Quartet with Orchestra, a work by Bohuslav Martinů dating from the beginning of the 1930s, in which the four-member group assumes the role of soloist, as in a Classical concerto.
And that’s not all: at the end of a packed programme all ten soloists will combine their talents, creating a one-of-a-kind instrumental line-up in order to perform the evening’s encore – a new work commissioned specially for the occasion.