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Opening Concert

The programme for the Opening Concert of the 76th edition of the Prague Spring, in keeping with festival tradition, will feature Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country. On this occasion, it is entrusted to one of the most sought-after conductors on the current music scene, Vladimir Jurowski, and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin), of which he is Chief Conductor.

Programme

  • Bedřich Smetana: My Country

Performers

  • Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
  • Vladimir Jurowski - conductor

Price

1900 - 4200 CZK

Date

12 / 05 / 2021
Wednesday 20.00
Expected end of the event 21.30
No intermission

We want to use the opportunity to celebrate with the Czech people, to celebrate their landscape and nature, their history and culture, their character and spirit.

Vladimir Jurowski is an exceptional artist who is well aware of the symbolism of this work for the Czech public,” says Director of the Prague Spring Roman Bělor. “He is conscientious about the way he chooses his projects and he always probes deep below the surface. We can thus anticipate that his interpretation of My Country will make for a powerful experience and will offer a new perspective on the performance tradition,” he adds. “This invitation is a great honour for any orchestra, especially a foreign ensemble,” states Jurowski. “We want to use the opportunity to celebrate with the Czech people, to celebrate their landscape and nature, their history and culture, their character and spirit. May My Country become our communal celebration, free of any nationalistic undertone, founded on heartfelt understanding.”

Vladimir Jurowski

Moscow-born Vladimir Jurowski hails from an eminent musical family. His father Michail, like his younger brother Dmitri, is a respected conductor; his grandfather Vladimir was a composer. After emigrating in 1990 the family settled in Berlin, from where the young musician travelled to Dresden to attend the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, after which he completed his studies in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler. Jurowski has been active on the international music scene since 1995, when he gave his debut at the Wexford Festival Opera with Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night; shortly afterwards he made his first appearance at London’s famous Covent Garden with a production of Nabucco. He currently holds several prestigious positions. He has been Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, in 2015 he was appointed Artistic Director of the George Enescu Festival in Romania, and in the autumn of 2021 he will assume possibly his most significant post, namely that of General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera. In this role Jurowski will be taking over from Kirill Petrenko and will thus follow in the footsteps of an impressive series of major conducting names who have headed this illustrious opera house, such as Hans von Bülow, Richard Strauss, Georg Solti and Zubin Mehta. Jurowski has a wealth of experience with opera. In the years 1997-2001 he was first Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin and, in the period 2001-2013, he was Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Striking synthesis of sensuality and intellectuality

Guidance and steering, attention, analytics and a deep long view are the characteristics of this musician,” wrote Reinhard J. Brembeck in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Although Jurowski never over-exerts, he makes the music and the musicians glow, offering a striking synthesis of sensuality and intellectuality, depth of emotion and structuralism, magic and craftsmanship.”

As an orchestral conductor Jurowski has led the majority of principal ensembles in Europe and the United States during his varied career, including the Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonics, and the orchestras in Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Amsterdam, Zurich and Dresden. Nevertheless, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra remains close to his heart: he has held official positions with them as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director since the autumn of 2017. His connections to this renowned Berlin ensemble go back much further than this, however, as Jurowski described in an interview for the music magazine VAN in 2018: “I got to know the orchestra as the East German period was ending, exactly 28 years ago. My family came over from what was then the Soviet Union. I started studying in Dresden right away. My father was in Berlin, and I’d visit his rehearsals and recording sessions with the orchestra. I substituted as a conductor for the orchestra in 1997. It was a tricky programme: works by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Udo Zimmermann and Lutosławski’s Mi-parti, an aleatoric piece. I’ve seen the orchestra at so many different stages of its existence and have always admired its professionalism. I never saw the musicians complaining in rehearsal. Sometimes there’s tension between conductor and orchestra, but I never had the feeling that the work was being sabotaged. That never happened here.”

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin © Simon Pauly

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra takes pride in its enduring history, during which it built up a position as one of Germany’s most respected ensembles. Since its founding in 1923 it has been led by Sergiu Celibidache, Eugen Jochum, Hermann Abendroth, Rolf Kleinert, Heinz Rögner, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Marek Janowski. A whole series of now distinguished conductors stood at the helm of the orchestra for their international debut, among them Andris Nelsons, Vasily Petrenko, Jakub Hrůša and Omer Meir Wellber, the majority of whom return as guest conductors. The orchestra’s collaboration with contemporary composers also represents an important chapter in its history, some of whom performed with the orchestra as soloists (such as Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky, Krzysztof Penderecki and Thomas Adès). In previous years the role of Composer-in-Residence with the orchestra was undertaken by Brett Dean and Marko Nikodijević.

Thanks to its strong ties with Deutschlandfunk Kultur in Berlin, Deutschlandfunk in Cologne and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, all the orchestra’s concerts are broadcast on radio. This collaboration has led to a fascinating and colourful discography, which also incorporates works by Czech composers. These include the critically acclaimed recording of Smetana’s Festive Symphony and The Bartered Bride, which the orchestra made with conductor Darrell Ang in May 2018, demonstrating in the process its familiarity with the music of this eminent Czech composer. In the new season, apart from the Prague performances, the ensemble is also scheduled to present My Country in its hometown of Berlin, in Erlangen and in Katowice, Poland.

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