Author: Richard Freed
It is fitting in several respects that the opening concerts of the Prague Spring Festival 2014 have been designated a tribute to Rafael Kubelík, one of the truly great conductors of the 20th century and probably the most widely known of the eminent Czech musicians of his time. Early in his career, Kubelík was one of Jiří Bělohlávek’s predecessors on the podium of the Czech Philharmonic, and he was one of the founders of this festival. In its first year he conducted Smetana’s six-part celebration of his homeland, Má vlast (“My Country”), on the anniversary of the composer’s death, May 12, which eventually became fixed as this event’s regular opening date, with that glorious work as its celebratory offering. Moreover, this tribute takes place in observance of the centenary of Kubelík’s birth (June 29, 1914, in Bychory).