World-class conductor Jiří Bělohlávek to take up the baton at the Czech Philharmonic

Jiří Bělohlávek, photo: CTK

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, under new management after years of discord, has appointed the world-class conductor and native Czech Jiří Bělohlávek to be its chief conductor when the current maestro, Eliahu Inbal, steps down in 2012. The choice has been widely applauded, with Mr Bělohlávek seen as just the thing to bring the national philharmonic into the future and out into the world. Earlier I spoke by phone with Jaroslav Pondělíček of the orchestra’s artistic board, who told me how Jiří Bělohlávek could succeed where others could not.

Jiří Bělohlávek, photo: CTK
“I think this is really an excellent choice for the orchestra. We have been considering the opportunity of taking Jiří Bělohlávek as the chief conductor for a long time, because of his strong personality, international experience, most importantly his professional ability and knowledge of the Czech background. And what is also very important is also that be brings social and political support to the Czech Philharmonic. That is very important for us at this moment.”

Were there other names being considered for the position or were you really looking only at Jiří Bělohlávek?

“Yes we had some other names we were discussing (and of course, it’s not just up to us). Maybe two to four other people were being considered.”

How would you describe Jiří Bělohlávek as a conductor? What makes him such a renowned conductor?

“Of course, Jiří Bělohlávek is a perfectionist. He emphasises details, and he is very hard-working. He is absolutely reliable in his conducting. He has a strong personality, knows exactly what he wants, which is very important for each orchestra: to have a conductor who really knows what he wants. He doesn’t just play from the beginning to the end. And moreover he has great international prestige, which is very important for the Czech Philharmonic if it wants to be one of the best orchestras in the whole world.”

Lastly, there have been several years of problems between the Czech Philharmonic and the management – has that been fixed with the recent appointment of the new director David Mareček?

“We had problems between the Czech Philharmonic and the Ministry of Culture. But Mr Mareček was a very good choice for manager of the orchestra. We support him very much because he is very strong and at the same time a very kind man, and he knows what to do to move the orchestra up.”

Jiří Bělohlávek, Jiří Besser, photo: CTK
So the future is looking bright for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Yes, I think so, I think there is a great chance at the moment, created by the Jiří Bělohlávek, Mr Mareček as the director and the Minister of Culture Jiří Besser. All of them support us, and I hope that this cooperation will bring wonderful results.”