Vienna Philharmonic stars at 72nd Prague Spring festival


The Prague Spring international music festival gets underway on Friday at Prague's Obecní dům. The festival will traditionally open with Bedřich Smetana’s My Country, this time featuring the world famous Vienna Philharmonic. Ruth Franková spoke to the head of Prague Spring, Roman Bělor, and asked him what was on the menu for the 72nd edition of the event.

Daniel Barenboim,  photo: Alkan,  CC BY 3.0
“Of course I have to mention the fact that we succeeded some years ago to persuade the Vienna Philharmonic to play Smetana’s Má Vlast and this excellent orchestra is going to be conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim. So it is a fantastic opportunity to hear our own musical monument being presented by one of the world’s leading orchestra under the baton of one the most important conductors.

“But the festival contains almost 50 performances – recitals, early music concerts, as well as contemporary and experimental music. There will also be a special event at the National Technical Museum, so it is a really wide choice, I would say.”

What about the closing night? What music are we going to hear and who is going to perform?

“The closing concert is going to be conducted by another legendary personality, perhaps the foremost representative of the Polish post-war music generation, Krzysztof Penderecki, who is an excellent composer and conductor. He will be conducting the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

“In the second part of the programme he will present his own composition ‘Symphony number 7: Seven Gates of Jerusalem’. And in the first part of the programme he will pay his respects to modern Czech music. He has chosen to play the serenade for orchestra by Iša Krejčí, a great Czech composer, who is slightly overshadowed by other famous names.”

Prague Spring will also mark the 450 birth anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi. What exactly will be on the programme?

“On May 17, in the church of St Simon and Jude in the Old Town, we will present an excellent Italian ensemble of early music, ‘La Compagnia del Madrigale’. They will play a selection of madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi to commemorate this great Italian composer.”

What are you most looking forward to?

“It is undoubtedly the opening concert, because it is full of symbols and it is a great homage to Smetana, presented by a top orchestra and top conductor. It might be an inspiration for us, because sometimes we feel that we are the masters of our own music, but the best Czech composers actually belong to world cultural heritage.”

Are there still any free tickets?

“Of course many concerts are already sold out or almost sold out but there are still concerts where tickets are available, so I would encourage everybody to take a look on our website or visit our box office in Prague’s Rudofinum.”