Now celebrating its 120th season, the Czech Philharmonic continues to delight audiences around the globe with its unique qualities, and is now one of the "Top 10 greatest orchestras"(by CNN) in the world. At the helm of this great Czech cultural institution is Chief Conductor Ji?í Bělohlávek, who has led the orchestra on highly successful tours of the USA, China, Japan, Europe and the UK. The orchestra has received great acclaim for its recent Dvo?ák recordings for Decca.
The Czech Philharmonic has an illustrious heritage. Dvo?ák conducted the orchestra in its inaugural performance on 4 January 1896 at the Rudolfinum, the stunning venue on the banks of the Vltava which is still home to its Prague concerts, and now also the centre for its Orchestral Academy. The Academy is just one of numerous successful outreach projects, including competitions for soloists and composers,through which the Czech Philharmonic shares its passion and artistry with people of all ages and backgrounds, preparing the way for the next generation of both performers and audience alike.
Great conductors are a theme in the orchestra's history. Gustav Mahler conducted the Czech
Philharmonic for the world premiere of his Symphony No. 7 in Prague in 1908. The orchestra's international reputation grew under the direction of Václav Talich, the energetic leadership of Rafael Kubelík helped steer the Czech Philharmonic through the difficult wartime years, and in the post-war era of Karel An?erl it embarked on a busy touring schedule. Following a period of varied fortunes after the Velvet Revolution, today a rejuvenated Czech Philharmonic orchestra is heard at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals, including the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, concerts
at the Philharmonie in Berlin, a residency at the Musikverein in Vienna, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Carnegie Hall in New York and the NCPA in Beijing.
The orchestra is privileged to work with the world's finest soloists including Joshua Bell, Hélène Grimaud, Janine Jansen and Anne-Sophie Mutter. It also welcomes distinguished guest conductors, including recent and forthcoming collaborations with, among others, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski, Fabio Luisi and Robin Ticciati. The Czech Philharmonic has received numerous awards and nominations, including ten Grands Prix du Disque de l'Académie Charles-Cros, five Grand Prix du Disque de l'Académie fran?aise, several Cannes Classical Awards, a position in Gramophone's Top 20 Best Orchestras in the World (2008), as well as nominations for Grammy and Gramophone Awards. The Czech Philharmonic was ranked in the "Top 10
greatest orchestras in the world" by CNN in 2015.
In co-production with Unitel, the Czech Philharmonic has made nine new television programmes each of which features a full performance of one of Dvo?ák's symphonies. The shows, broadcast by Czech Television in 2014, are distributed internationally by C Major. The orchestra has also produced a documentary for Czech Television (in association with Rhombus Media) about Dvo?ák, Ji?í Bělohlávek, and the current work of the Czech Philharmonic, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete.
Renowned Czech conductor Ji?í Bělohlávek took up the position of Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012, following his successful tenure in the past seven years as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977-89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994-2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006, Ji?í Bělohlávek has consistently championed the music of Czech composers. His special affinity with the music of Bohuslav Martin? has been instrumental in bringing that master to the world's attention, and Bělohlávek has also taken the more rarely-performed works of Dvo?ák, Janá?ek, Smetana and Suk to new audiences. 2013-2014 season he took up the role of Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
He also regularly conducts opera, and has in recent seasons conducted at the Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival and Zurich Opera. His repertoire has included operas by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Wagner, Janacek, and Martinu. He frequently conducts lesser-known operas in concert presentations, and has made a series of opera-in-concert cds with the BBC Symphony Orchestra of works such as Bed?ich Smetana's Dalibor and Janacek The Excursions of Mr. Broucek. In 2016 he will conduct Jenufa at the San Francisco Opera.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra has toured Europe and Asia. In addition to his work with the Czech Philharmonic, Ji?í Bělohlávek has regularly conducted, among others, the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, New York Philharmonic, S?chsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, appearing at festivals including those in Berlin, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Montreaux, Salzburg and Tanglewood.
The Naxos label noted:
"His most outstanding recordings are those in which he leads the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, where the high caliber of orchestral execution and Bělohlávek's deep musicianship result in performances of exceptional quality."
Mr. Bělohlávek has an extensive discography, and, in addition to the new complete Dvorak Symphony and Concerto cycle released last season, new recordings of the greatest Czech repertoire are also planned as part of an ongoing project with Decca.
He was the first conductor since Herbert Von Karajan to receive the Gramophone Award for Orchestral Recording two years running.In May 2012, Bělohlávek was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) 'for services to music' by the Queen Elizabeth II. In the Czech Republic he was awarded the First Grade Medal of Merit for service to the Republic.