Antonín Dvořák: Love Songs, op. 83, B. 160 (arr. Jiří Teml)

Antonín Dvořák: Czech Suite, op. 39, B. 93

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18

You can watch a recording of our concluding concert on our YouTube channel HERE.


With this concert, we brought to a successful conclusion our 13th-annual festival, which took place almost in its entirety in spite of all of the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Although there was a change to the programme caused by the illness of some members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the concert left an unforgettable impression on the audience members in attendance. With Antonín Dvořák’s tender Love Songs orchestrated by Jiří Teml and sung with heartfelt emotion by Kateřina Kněžíková, the chamber music-like intimacy Dvořák’s Czech Suite, and the ecstatically symphonic approach to the performance of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the one and only Lukáš Vondráček at the piano, the public experienced a lovely evening.


We wish to thank the Czech Philharmonic and the evening’s soloists for enabling us to share this experience. We believe that the audience’s explosion of enthusiasm at the conclusion is an expression of the hope that a year from now, we will meet again at the festival under better conditions than those that accompanied this year’s festival.


Czech Philharmonic

Nominated for Gramophone’s 2022 ‘Orchestra of the Year’, the 127-year-old Czech Philharmonic gave its first concert – an all Dvořák programme conducted by the composer himself - in the famed Rudolfinum Hall on 4 January 1896. The Orchestra is acknowledged for its definitive interpretations of Czech composers and recognised for its special relationship to the music of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, who conducted the world première of his Symphony No. 7 with the Orchestra in 1908. It is currently recording the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies with Chief Conductor and Music Director, Semyon Bychkov for Pentatone.

The Czech Philharmonic’s extraordinary and proud history reflects both its location at the very heart of Europe and the Czech Republic’s turbulent political history, for which Smetana’s Má vlast (My Homeland) has become a potent symbol. 2024 is the Year of Czech Music, a major celebration of Czech music launched on the bicentenary of Smetana’s birth and celebrated across the Czech Republic every 10 years. The Czech Philharmonic will mark Smetana’s bicentenary with a series of concerts at the Smetana Litomyšl Festival including a rare concert performance of his opera, Libuše, conducted by Principal Guest Conductor, Jakub Hrůša.. Also in recognition of the Year of Czech Music, the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov will take Dvořák’s final three symphonies, and the concertos for piano, cello and violin on tour to South Korea, Japan, Spain, Austria, Germany, Belgium and France.

Throughout the Orchestra’s history, two features have remained at its core: its championing of Czech composers and its belief in music’s power to change lives. From as early as the 1920’s Václav Talich (Chief Conductor 1919-1941) pioneered concerts for workers, young people and voluntary organisations, a philosophy which is equally vibrant today.

Alongside the Czech Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra, Orchestral Academy and Jiří Bělohlávek Prize for young musicians, a comprehensive education strategy engages with more than 400 schools bringing all ages to the Rudolfinum – some travelling as long as four hours - to hear concerts and participate in workshops. An inspirational music and song programme led by singer Ida Kelarová for the extensive Romany communities within the Czech Republic and Slovakia has helped many socially excluded families to find a voice. In addition to an annual education exchange with the Royal Academy of Music in London, over lockdown the Orchestra gave seven benefit concerts which were live streamed in 4K to international audiences, raising funds for hospitals, charities, and healthcare professionals.

An early champion of the music of Martinů and Janáček, the works of Czech composers - both established and new - remain the lifeblood of the Orchestra. Instigated by Semyon Bychkov at the start of his tenure, nine Czech composers and five international composers - Detlev Glanert, Julian Anderson, Thomas Larcher, Bryce Dessner and Thierry Escaich – were commissioned to write for the Orchestra.

This season’s Artist in Residence is Sir András Schiff who will have the dual roles of pianist and conductor of the Orchestra at the Dvořák Prague Festival; will perform with the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra as part of the Czech Chamber Music Society’s season; and will join Semyon Bychkov for subscription concerts in Prague and on tour in Vienna, Hamburg and Munich.

source: Czech Philharmonic

Petr Altrichter

Petr Altrichter made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic in 1979, and has subsequently conducted the Orchestra on numerous occasions in Prague, on tour in China, Germany, in Japan and Taiwan.

He was raised in a musical family, and he played musical instruments from a young age. Having graduated from the conservatory in Ostrava as a French horn player and conductor, he continued his studies at the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno in the fields of orchestral conducting under the guidance of Otakar Trhlík and František Jílek and choral conducting with the teachers Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl. After his studies in Brno, he worked as a choirmaster and conductor with the Brno Academic Choir, and he played a part in the earning of many prizes at foreign choral competitions and festivals (Middlesbrough, Debrecen…).

Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he earned the title of laureate and a special prize from the jury at the renowned conducting competition in Besançon, France. On the basis of that prize, he became Václav Neumann’s assistant conductor with the Czech Philharmonic, and he started his own artistic career. Not long after that, he began to receive invitations to conduct orchestras abroad.

After a period of activity with the Brno Philharmonic, in 1988 he became a conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and in 1990 he became its principal conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries. At the same time, he was engaged in long-term collaboration with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in Pardubice, with which he often gave performances abroad introducing many gifted young soloists (such as Isabelle van Keulen and Radek Baborák) who are now firmly established on concert stages around the world.

From 1993, he was the music director of the Southwest German Philharmonic Orchestra of Constance, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and he also toured Switzerland and Italy.

Petr Altrichter made his debut in the United Kingdom with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993, and his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra followed soon thereafter. In 1997 he was appointed as the principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic after having guest conducted the orchestra with great success during the previous season. He also made an appearance with that orchestra in 2000 at the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and he made a number of highly acclaimed recordings for the orchestra’s own label – RLPO Live.

In 2001 Altrichter was invited to take the helm of the Brno Philharmonic, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days, and he still continues to guest conduct there regularly.

In 2015 he toured Germany with the Czech Philharmonic, and in late 2015 and early 2016, he toured China with the same orchestra. In the spring of 2017 he toured Japan with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and his 2018 calendar included a tour of the United Kingdom with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

He has guest conducted major orchestras abroad, including Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Warsaw Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic, Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga, Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen, and Odense Symphony Orchestra. In the United Kingdom he has collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

He has made guest appearances at major festivals in Salzburg, Edinburgh, Avignon, Athens, Cheltenham, Paris, Madrid, Chicago, Zurich, Lucerne, Vienne, Seville, Palermo, and elsewhere.

The bulk of Petr Altrichter’s repertoire consists of Czech music – Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů, Russian music – especially Dmitri Shostakovich, and the works of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Important soloists and performers from around the world (Garrick Ohlsson, John Lill, Tabea Zimmermann…) value his flexibility in leading orchestral accompaniments, and they seek out collaboration with him.

Source: Petr Altrichter

Lukáš Vondráček

The indisputable winner of the Grand Prix at the 2016 International Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition, Lukáš Vondráček’s 2023/24 season highlights include a tour with Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša in Boston, as well as returns to long term partners such as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Janacek Philharmonic.

Following recent appearances at the Flanders Festival, the “Le Piano Symphonique” Festival, and the Weiwuying International Festival in Taiwan, recital engagements have taken him to the ”Chopin and his Europe” Festival in Warsaw and the Piano Loop Festival in Split.

Over the last decade, Lukáš Vondráček has travelled the world working with various orchestras such as the Philadelphia and Sydney Symphony orchestras, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Netherlands Philharmonic orchestras under conductors such as Paavo Järvi, Gianandrea Noseda, Jakub Hrůša, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Marin Alsop, Christoph Eschenbach, Pietari Inkinen, Vasily Petrenko, Anu Tali, and Stéphane Denève, among many others.

Recitals have led him to Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the Flagey in Brussels, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and to renowned festivals such as Menuhin Festival Gstaad, PianoEspoo in Finland, Prague Spring Festival, and Lille Piano Festival.

At the age of four, Lukáš Vondráček made his first public appearance. As a fifteen-year-old in 2002, he made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy, which was followed by a major US tour in 2003. His natural and assured musicality and remarkable technique have long marked him out as a gifted and mature musician. He has achieved worldwide recognition by receiving many international awards, foremost first prizes at the Hilton Head and San Marino International Piano Competitions and Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa, as well as the Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award at the 2009 International Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

After finishing his studies at the Academy of Music in Katowice and the Vienna Conservatoire, Lukáš Vondráček obtained an Artist Diploma from Boston's New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Hung-Kuan Chen, graduating with honours in 2012.

source: Harrison Parott

Kateřina Kněžíková

Soprano Kateřina Kněžíková is one of the most prominent Czech singers of both the opera and concert repertoires. In 2018 she won the 2018 Classic Prague Award for the best chamber music performance and the 2019 Thalia Award for extraordinary performing on stage. Since 2006 she has been a member of the opera company of the National Theatre, where she has appeared in productions of Carmen, The Jacobin, The Magic Flute, and The Marriage of Figaro. She also makes guest appearances on other Czech and foreign opera stages (National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Theatre de Caen, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels, Opéra de Dijon). She has worked with important conductors (P. Domingo, M. Honeck, J. Hrůša, T. Netopil, R. Ticciati, E. Villaume) and ensembles (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Collegium 1704, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin). She has taken part in the making of several recordings for the Harmonia Mundi, Decca, Supraphon, Radioservis, and Mezzo labels.

Svatopluk Sem

The Czech baritone Svatopluk Sem is a graduate of the České Budějovice Conservatoire. He is a regular guest on the most important Czech opera stages including the National Theatre in Prague, the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the National Theatre in Brno, and the National Moravian – Silesian Theatre in Ostrava. He also devotes himself to the concert repertoire, appearing not only in the Czech Republic, but also on many concert stages abroad (Japan, Denmark, South Korea, Austria, Spain, Germany, Russia, England), where he has collaborated with renowned conductors including Jiří Bělohlávek, Heiko Mathias Förster, and Tomáš Netopil. He took part in recording Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek for the Harmonia Mundi label, and he performed in the BBC documentary Rolando meets Don Giovanni, where he appeared together with Rolando Villazón in the title role of Don Giovanni. He is a frequent guest at such prestigious festivals as the BBC Proms, the Dvořák Prague Festival, the Open-Air Gars am Kamp Festival in Austria, the Prague Spring Festival, and Smetana’s Litomyšl.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir

The Prague Philharmonic Choir was founded in 1935 by choirmaster and teacher Jan Kühn. Entering its 90th season, it is the oldest Czech professional choir. However, the choir has garnered international acclaim as a prominent ensemble as well. Recently, it has received particular recognition for its interpretation of its oratorio and cantata repertoire. Since 2007, the choir has been led by principal choirmaster and artistic director Lukáš Vasilek. Lukáš Kozubík serves as the second choirmaster.

Under the direction of Lukáš Vasilek, the choir has established itself as a highly respected partner of major orchestras. On the domestic scene, it has long collaborated primarily with the Czech Philharmonic and, in choral concerts, with the PKF – Prague Philharmonia. Internationally, its musical partners include the Berlin and Essen Philharmonics, the Vienna Symphony, the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir has gained valuable experience from its work with distinguished conductors, which recently has included Semyon Bychkov, Jakub Hrůša, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding, Zubin Mehta, and Christoph Eschenbach. It also regularly participates in renowned music festivals such as Smetana’s Litomyšl, Prague Spring, Dvořák Prague and Prague Sounds. In recent years, the choir has played an active role on the international stage, serving as the resident choir for the Bregenzer Festspiele opera festival.

This season, the choir will be presenting three exclusive choral concerts. They were curated with a main focus on demanding and lesser-known choral pieces, such as a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment. Traditionally, it performs at concerts organised by Prague-based orchestras, but has been known to also visit other venues such as Ostrava. Internationally, the choir has performed in cities such as Dresden, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, and Bregenz.

In addition to its regular concert activities, the Prague Philharmonic Choir is engaged in educational projects. For young audiences, it has prepared a series of educational concerts specifically tailored for both schools and families with children. Their programme places strong emphasis on ensuring an enjoyable and actively engaging experience for children. Organised for voice students, the Prague Philharmonic Choir Academy offers a unique platform for young singers to engage in professional ensemble performances, participate in major musical projects, and gain experience working with leading artists.

The choir’s vocal qualities are evidenced, among other things, by its rich archive of recordings, which continues to grow with each season. The discography includes albums released by various record labels such as Pentatone, Decca Classics, Sony Classical, and Supraphon. The Prague Philharmonic Choir has also garnered recognition for its recording activities, receiving awards from the British Gramophone magazine and BBC Music Magazine, as well as the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’Annèe award. The first gramophone recording, conducted by Václav Talich in 1952, featured Dvořák’s oratorio Stabat Mater; the most recent CDs, released in 2023, includes Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov and the choir’s own album entitled Stravinsky, Janáček, Bartók: Village Stories.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir received the 2018 Classic Prague Award for Best Vocal Concert, the Czech Television Classics of the Year Award, and in 2022 the Antonín Dvořák Award for outstanding artistic merit, promotion, and popularisation of Czech music.

source: Prague Philharmonic Choir

Lukáš Kozubík

Lukáš Kozubík is the choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir and chief choirmaster of the National Theatre Choir in Prague. As a guest artist, he has collaborated with leading orchestras in several Czech and Slovak opera houses.

With the Prague Philharmonic Choir, he has performed works by Antonín Dvořák, Francis Poulenc, Alexander Scriabin, and Richard Wagner. Smetana’s Litomyšl was captivated by his performance of Carmina Burana, and for the Swiss St. Galler Festspiele, he and his choir prepared Schmidt’s opera Notre Dame. His warm and engaging style goes beyond classical concerts as he actively engages in educational projects and is working on developing a new series of family concerts.

He earned his choral conducting degree from the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno under the guidance of Lubomír Mátl. He also studied opera singing at the Janáček Conservatory and the Institute for Art Studies at the University of Ostrava. During his studies, he began to collaborate with a number of concert choirs, such as the Mátl Academic Choir, the Lumír Brno Choir, Musica Conspirata Brno, Ansámbl Forte, and Chorus Ostrava. Kozubík’s multifaceted artistic activities led him to the positions of assistant conductor, choirmaster, and accompanist at the JAMU Chamber Opera. He has served on the jury of several choral competitions. His extensive experience includes dozens of opera productions, which he has prepared not only for domestic stages, but also for festivals in Hungary, Poland, and Germany. He also performs cantata and oratorio works.

During his prolonged work period in Slovakia, he gravitated particularly towards opera. From 2012–2021, Lukáš Kozubík was the choirmaster of the State Theatre Opera in Košice. There, he also founded and artistically directed the SD Košice Children’s Opera Studio. As a teacher at the local conservatory, he founded an opera studio and a school choir. He regularly collaborated with the State Philharmonic Košice, the State Chamber Orchestra Žilina, and the Musica Iuvenalis Chamber String Orchestra.

source: Prague Philharmonic Choir


Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall

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.