The Czech Philharmonic, ranking among the world’s finest orchestras, continues to delight audiences around the globe with its unique qualities. From 2012 to 2017, this seminal Czech cultural institution was helmed by its chief conductor, the late Jiří Bělohlávek, who led the orchestra on highly successful tours of the USA, China, Japan and Europe.
The Czech Philharmonic has an illustrious heritage. The orchestra’s inaugural performance, on 4 January 1896 at the Rudolfinum in Prague, was conducted by none other than Antonín Dvořák. Numerous famed conductors have played a major role in the orchestra’s history. They include Gustav Mahler, under whose baton the Czech Philharmonic gave the world premiere of his Symphony No. 7 in Prague in 1908. The orchestra’s international renown further increased under Václav Talich. The energetic Rafael Kubelík steered the Czech Philharmonic through the difficult years of World War II, while during Karel Ančerl’s post-war tenure the orchestra embarked on a busy touring schedule.
Following a period of varied fortunes after the Velvet Revolution, the rejuvenated Czech Philharmonic has appeared at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals, including the Salzburger Festspiele and the BBC Proms, and given regular performances at the Berliner Philharmonie and the Royal Festival Hall in London, as well as residence concerts at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Carnegie Hall in New York and the NCPA in Beijing. The orchestra has had the honour of working with the world’s finest instrumentalists and singers, among them Joshua Bell, Hélène Grimaud, Janine Jansen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Daniil Trifonov and Yo-Yo Ma. It has also performed under distinguished
guest conductors, including Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski, Fabio Luisi and Jaap van Zweden.
The Czech Philharmonic’s recordings have received numerous awards and nominations, including ten Grands Prix du Disque de l'Académie Charles-Cros, five Grands Prix du Disque de l'Académie française and several Cannes Classical Awards. Furthermore, it was ranked among Gramophone’s Top 20 Best Orchestras in the World (2008). The orchestra has also been nominated for Grammy and Gramophone Awards. Over the long term, the Czech Philharmonic has collaborated with Unitel, EuroArts and Czech Television. The orchestra has also made a TV documentary about Antonín Dvořák’s music and its work under the conductor Jiří Bělohlávek.
In the 2017/2018 season, there are three designated conductors engaged with the Czech Philharmonic. Apart from the Music Director and Chief Conductor Semyon Bychkov, the orchestra works frequently with the Principal Guest Conductors Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil.