Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Czech Philharmonic celebrates its 125th anniversary with its 2020/21 season, the third with chief conductor Semyon Bychkov

Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo Petra Hajska)
Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo Petra Hajska)
The 2020/21 season marks the Czech Philharmonic's 125th anniversary, and the season will also by Semyon Bychkov's third as chief conductor. Bychkov will be launching the season on 17 November 2020 with a concert commemorating the 1989 Velvet Revolution, with the commemorative concert planned to become an annual event. On 17 November, Bychkov will conduct the orchestra in Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony and Mystery of Time by the Czech composer Miloslav Kabeláč (1908-1979).

During the season Bychkov will be conducting world premières of works commissioned from Bryce Dessner, Detlev Glanert and Thomas Larcher, with other concerts given by orchestra's two principal guest conductors, Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil. Netopil will be conducting Bohuslav Martinu's Ariane, whilst Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. David Robertson will conduct the first performance of the third of the nine newly commissioned works from Czech composers, Miloš Orsoň Štědroň's Bimetal.

2019/20 saw the completion of Semyon Bychkov's The Tchaikovsky Project, and during 2020/21 he and the orchestra will launch a new Mahler initiative featuring the composer's music alongside works by his contemporaries. Many of these concerts will be filmed for Czech Phil Media, the orchestra's new audio-visual label.

In addition to its regular concerts at Prague's Rudolfinum, the orchestra will be performing at the Dvořák Prague International Festival and Smetana's Litomyšl Festival, as well as giving concerts in Vienna, Slovakia and Spain, and giving a major European tour to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London.

Programme of the first Czech Philharmonic concert  (Photo: archive of the Czech Philharmonic)
Programme of the first Czech Philharmonic concert  (Photo: archive of the Czech Philharmonic)
The orchestra gave its first concert as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1896, when Antonin Dvorak conducted a programme of his own works, though the origins of the idea go back earlier to the 1860s when Bedrich Smetana wished to create a Czech symphonic tradition, and to 1882 when the Society for the Maintenance of a Large Orchestra in Prague was created.  At first the orchestra was made up of members of the orchestra of the National Theatre, but as a result of a strike in 1901 the two organisations became independent of each other.

Full details from the Czech Philharmonic's website.

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