The beginnings of the Martinů Quartet date back to its members’ student days at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts. It has existed since 1976, when it was established under the name Havlák Quartet. Their first teachers were members of the legendary Quartets Smetana and Vlach. They also studied with members of Amadeus, Juilliard, Guarneri and Alban Berg Quartet. Subsequently, pursuing the tradition of the Czech quartet “school”, the ensemble won a number of awards both at home and abroad including prizes at the ARD competition Munich, Evian (France), Yehudi Menuhin (Portsmouth, Britain) and The Prague Spring competitions.. In 1985 it named itself after Bohuslav Martinů.
The quartet has performed in the majority of European countries, in the USA, Canada and Japan, and has been invited to prestigious festivals and concert stages (Europamusicale, City of London Festival, Orlando Festival in the Netherlands, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Prague Spring, Janáček festival – Ostrava, Wigmor Hall, Opera de Bastille Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Basel, etc.). Its members have shared their experience as lecturers at international master classes.
Although the main weight of its repertoire is centred on the music of the world’s great composers, the Quartet takes pleasure in seeking out neglected works and in giving first performances of pieces by contemporary composers. The quartet’s repertoire naturally contains works by Bohuslav Martinů. It has received the MIDEM award for the best CD of 20th-century chamber music (Cannes 2004). Over the long term, the ensemble has performed and recorded quartets by the US-based composer Tomáš Svoboda. Their double CD of Taneyev Quintets (Supraphon) received great recognition (see reviews below) and was introduces in Radio France and BBC.
In August 2017 the Czech leading CD publisher Supraphon released their recording of chamber works by one of the foremost composers from the Czech Republic Petr Eben. Another recording – Oboe Quartet by prominent American 20th century composer Elliot Carter – was made for the Czech Radio. Collaboration with an American composer of younger generation Elliot McKinley resulted in three CD with his music.
The MQ has made recordings for Czech Radio, Radio France, the BBC, ARD and ORF, and for a number of Czech and foreign labels. The ensemble has received the Czech Chamber Music Society Award and a special prize from the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.
During the last three years Martinu Quartet toured and played concerts in USA, Switzerland, Belgium, UK including Gibraltar, Holand, Izrael, France, Spain, Japan, Korea. The quartet was invited to play concerts at major Czech international festivals: Dvorak’s Prague 2016, Prague Spring 2017, Concentus Moraviae 2016 or Days of Bohuslav Martinů 2016, VIAF Gozo, Malta.
Their Chamber music courses PLAYWIP are very popular and have participants from all the Word including Japan, USA, Canada and Taiwan.