The concert streamed from the home of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Smetana Hall in Obecní dům, will be headed by the orchestra’s chief conductor designate and one of the most sought-after Czech musicians of his generation, Tomáš Brauner.
It will begin with Josef Suk’s Meditation, which was written at the outbreak of the First World War. At that time the members of the Czech Quartet, where Suk played second violin, were required to start all their concerts with the Austrian national anthem. The composer, however, felt the need to include a counterbalance in the programmes, which gave rise to a short piece founded on an old Czech sacred song, St Wenceslas, whose text turns to the patron saint of Bohemia with a request for help. Meditation outlived its period context and is performed on exceptional occasions to this day. Considerably more carefree in mood, Serenade in E flat major was written by Josef Suk when he was a mere eighteen years of age. Johannes Brahms was so taken with this extremely mature work that he recommended it for publication to his publisher Simrock. The evening will culminate in Verklärte Nacht [Transfigured Night], one of the finest works from Arnold Schönberg’s early period. The Austrian composer was inspired in his work by Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, and he wrote it upon meeting his future wife, Mathilde, the sister of his teacher Alexander Zemlinsky. The work opens with sombre tones in the low strings and moves towards the “transfigured” end, promising a compelling close to this very special evening.