Prague Autumn: international music festival strikes its opening note

The Dvorak hall of Prague's Rudolfinum will open its doors on Wednesday for the first concert of this year's international music festival 'Prague Autumn'. Taking place under the patronage of Czech President Vaclav Klaus and the Ministry of Culture, the prestigious annual festival will consist of a series of twenty-two concerts, and features an international lineup of performers.

Wednesday's concert opens the festival with a distinctively Czech character, with the second half dedicated to the music of Josef Suk, the son in law of Antonin Dvorak. In particular this season there is also an emphasis on the appearance of radio symphony orchestras. Pavel Spiroch is the festival's founder and producer:

"Of course I have special projects which I built for myself because I love this music, so I'm really looking for the reaction of the audience. There are some projects which I'm really looking forward to which are not really normal, such as Mariachi Vargas, which is most typical Mexican music, together with Prague's Radio Symphony Orchestra, and of course film music also, and less known choral music from Russian operas. There are some other projects also, such as an evening dedicated to Prokofiev."

Since its establishment sixteen years ago, Prague Autumn has grown in prestige and significance. Vaclav Klaus this season is praising the festival as one of the highlights of the musical calendar and of Prague's cultural life. According to Klaus, it is thanks to the festival that 'Prague is becoming one of the main centres of social life in Europe.'

So how exactly did this tradition of an Autumnal celebration of orchestral music begin? Pavel Spiroch again:

"I had some experience as a journalist in music so I said to myself after these social changes here, why not establish a permanent festival in Prague in comparatively the same beautiful period as May in September, because September gives you a lot of beautiful colours in Prague. I'm talking about leaves, I'm talking about the very beautiful period when the sun gives gold to trees, so we started like this and because there were some other festivals starting in this, period 1990 - 1991, especially in chamber music, we said why not establish a festival of orchestral music?"

Czech Radio is broadcasting six concerts live and recording a further seven. With the aid of The European Broadcasting Union, they will them be transmitted worldwide.