Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
Josef Suk: Asrael, Symphony in C minor, Op. 27
Josef Suk began composing his funeral symphony Asrael while grieving over the death of his father-in-law Antonín Dvořák, then as he was working on the piece, Suk’s wife, Dvořák’s daughter Otilka, died as well. To this great work full of immense human suffering he gave the name of the Islamic and Hebrew angel of death. Gustav Mahler is, as it were, the unspoken godfather of Asrael. Suk’s symphonic masterpiece is both intoxicating and philosophical; it does not drive listeners to despair, but instead exhorts them to contemplate the inexorable nature of fate and to meditate on the eternal. Asrael is a symphony in which Suk recasts great personal sorrow into a masterpiece, a true milestone of Czech symphonic music, and a work worthy of standing alongside the world’s greatest compositions of the early twentieth century. The conductor Jakub Hrůša and the Czech Philharmonic will perform Asrael using the critical edition published in 2018 by Bärenreiter, which is based on not only Suk’s manuscript, but also corrections made later at the initiative of Václav Talich. On the first part of the programme will be the Violin Concerto in D Major by Ludwig van Beethoven with the outstanding violinist Jan Mráček playing the solo part.
The Czech Philharmonic is the foremost Czech orchestra and has long held a place among the most esteemed representatives of Czech culture on the international scene. The beginning of its rich history is linked to the name of Antonín Dvořák, who on 4 January 1896 conducted the ensemble’s inaugural concert. Although the orchestra performs a broad range of the core international repertoire, it is sought out most often for its superb interpretations of the classics by the great Czech composers in a tradition built up by great conductors (Talich, Kubelík, Ančerl, Neumann, and Bělohlávek). In 2008 the prestigious magazine Gramophone ranked it among the twenty best orchestras of the world. One of the orchestra’s most important recent projects has recording Tchaikovsky’s complete orchestral works for the Decca Label with Semyon Bychkov conducting. Since the inception of the Dvořák Prague Festival, the Czech Philharmonic has been its resident orchestra, and since 2018 it has been a holder of the Antonín Dvořák Prize for promoting and popularising Czech classical music abroad and in the Czech Republic.
Born in the Czech Republic, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Music Director Designate of The Royal Opera, Covent Garden (Music Director from 2025), Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He was also formerly Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He is a frequent guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras, enjoying close relationships and performing regularly with the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NHK Symphony and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra – and in the US with The Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
As a conductor of opera, he has led productions for the Salzburg Festival (Kát’a Kabanová with the Vienna Philharmonic), Vienna State Opera (The Makropulos Case), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Carmen and Lohengrin), Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka), and Zurich Opera (The Makropulos Case). He has also been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival, conducting Vanessa, The Cunning Little Vixen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and served as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years.
His relationships with leading vocal and instrumental soloists have included collaborations in recent seasons with Behzod Abduraimov, Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon, Isabelle Faust, Bernarda Fink, Julia Fischer, Sol Gabetta, Véronique Gens, Christian Gerhaher, Kirill Gerstein, Karen Gomyo, Hélène Grimaud, Augustin Hadelich, Hilary Hahn, Barbara Hannigan, Alina Ibragimova, Janine Jansen, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Karita Mattila, Leonidas Kavakos, Lang Lang, Igor Levit, Albrecht Mayer, Anne Sofie Mutter, Stephanie d’Oustrac, Emmanuel Pahud, Kian Soltani, Josef Špaček, Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Daniil Trifonov, Mitsuko Uchida, Klaus Florian Vogt, Lukáš Vondráček, Yuja Wang, Alisa Weilerstein, and Frank Peter Zimmermann.
As a recording artist, Jakub Hrusa has received numerous awards and nominations for his discography.Most recently, he received the Opus Klassik Conductor of the Year nomination and the ICMA prize for Symphonic Music for his recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for his recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, both with Bamberg Symphony. In 2021, his disc of Martinů and Bartók violin concertos with Bamberg Symphony and Frank Peter Zimmermann (BIS) was nominated for BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone awards, and his recording of the Dvořák Violin Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Augustin Hadelich was nominated for a Grammy ® Award. His recordings of Dvořák and Martinů Piano Concertos with Ivo Kahánek and the Bamberg Symphony (Supraphon), and Vanessa from Glyndebourne (Opus Arte) both won BBC Music Magazine Awards in 2020. Other recent releases include Dvořák and Brahms Symphonies with Bamberg Symphony (Tudor), Suk’s Asrael Symphony with the Bavarian Radio Symphony (BR Klassik), and Dvořák’s Requiem and Te Deum with the Czech Philharmonic (Decca).
Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where his teachers included Jiří Bělohlávek. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle and The Dvořák Society. He was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize, and in 2020 was awarded both the Antonín Dvořák Prize by the Czech Republic’s Academy of Classical Music, and – together with Bamberg Symphony – the Bavarian State Prize for Music.
The violinist Jan Mráček has been one of the most prominent performers of his generation. He began playing violin at the age of five, and he studied at the School of Music of the City of Prague and the Prague Conservatoire. At the age of 13 he first appeared on the stage of the Rudolfinum alongside Josef Suk. His many competition successes include second prize at the 2010 Prague Spring Competition, when at the age of 19 he became the youngest laureate in its history. He appears regularly with Václav Hudeček, and since 2012 he has been an assistant at the Václav Hudeček Academy. In 2011 he became the youngest soloist in the history of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and three years later he won the Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition in Vienna. Since 2015 he has been serving as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic. He appears as a soloist around the world together with such great conductors as Maxim Vengerov, James Judd, Jac van Steen, and Vladimir Fedoseyev.
The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.