One hundred years ago to the day after the first regular broadcast of the Czech Radio, the Prague Spring Festival will feature the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, together with Cornelius Meister, a prominent German conductor, and Jan Mráček, one of the best Czech violinists, which will perform a programme combining the music by two Czech classical composers with the music by a German composer with reference to the Czech lands. After Marschner’s Overture to the romantic opera Hans Heiling, taking place in Ore Mountain Mining Region, Jan Mráček, concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic and soloist of international renown, will play the Concerto for violin and orchestra in A Minor by Antonín Dvořák. The program will end with the First Symphony by Bohuslav Martinů, written by this Czech composer in his American exile during the Second World War.
Jan Mráček became the youngest winner of the Prague Spring International Competition and the winner of the prestigious Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition in Vienna. He was invited to the position of concert master of the Czech Philharmonic by Jiří Bělohlávek where he also serves as a solo player. The highlights of his current season will include the performance of Fantasia in G minor by Josef Suk with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and John Eliot Gardiner or the Violin Concert by Igor Stravinsky with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and their chief conductor Jakub Hrůša. At the Prague Spring Festival, he made his debut in 2011 with a recital with Lukáš Klánský and, six years later, he came back and gave a two performances: concerts with the Lobkowicz Trio and the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra when, together with Radek Baborák and conductor Jonathon Heyward, he played the Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra by Ethel Smith. The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Dvořák is one of the centrepieces of his repertoire.
“I fell in love with the symphonies by Bohuslav Martinů more than twenty years ago when I was still a student,” says Cornelius Meister. “At that time, I got to know the incredibly powerful and deeply emotive recordings by Václav Neumann.” Incidentally, he was Meister’s predecessor in the position of general music director of the State Opera and State Orchestra in Stuttgart which the German artist has been holding since 2018. When Meister served as chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, he successively performed all six symphonies by Bohuslav Martinů. “The impressed audience was given the opportunity to experience the beautiful music that is rarely played in German-speaking countries for themselves,” he says. The recordings of the concerts were subsequently released on CDs and, in 2018, Meister won the prestigious OPUS Klassik Award in the category of the Conductor of the Year. Meister has a very warm relationship with Czech music. In addition to the music by Bohuslav Martinů and Antonín Dvořák, he likes to play the works by Leoš Janáček and, as a world premiere, he featured several works by contemporary composer Miroslav Srnka who is his generation peer. Even the opening composition of the concert, the Overture to the opera Hans Heiling by the German romantic author Heinrich Marschner, contains references to Czech themes. “The Svatošské skály rocks near Karlovy Vary play an important role in it. Marschner was, by the way, a bandmaster at the Court Theatre at Hanover, my hometown,” Meister concludes.