One of the most famous and important Czech conductors, Libor Pešek, died on Sunday, October 23. A conductor who spread the fame of Czech music far beyond the borders of the Czech Republic. A student of Václav Smetáček and Václav Neumann, he started with jazz and during his career he collaborated with many Czech and foreign chamber and symphonic ensembles. His collaboration with the Supraphon label started in 1961, when he made his first recording at Studio Domovina with Chamber Harmony.
Libor Pešek was born on June 22, 1933 in Prague, studied piano, trombone and cello in his youth. "It is good for a conductor to have experience with a stringed instrument, and a piano is necessary so that in his youth he can play scores that he only reads later," he declared.
In 1958, he founded a brass ensemble Chamber Harmony. Between 1965 and 1969, he was conductor of the Sebastian orchestra with which he performed successfully abroad. He was chief conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic from 1981 to 1982, and from 1982 to 1990 he was conductor-in-residence of the Czech Philharmonic. In the UK, Pešek was music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 1987 to 1998, and held the title of conductor laureate. He contributed significantly to the promotion of Czech art, and especially the work of Josef Suk. Between 2007 and 2019, Pešek was chief conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
In March 1996 Queen Elizabeth II made Libor Pešek a Knight of the British Empire. In 1997, he was awarded the First Grade of Czech Medal of Merit and an honorary fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire. In 1997, he received the First Class Medal of Merit from the hands of President Václav Havel.
In 2013, Libor Pešek took over Supraphon's Diamond record for 635,000 units sold. Four years ago, he won the Classic Prague Awards for classical music in the lifetime contribution category.