Dvořák Prague International Music Festival

The Dvořák Prague International Music Festival represents more than two weeks full of musical events that are special because of the dramaturgical approach to the festival’s central theme and the involvement of top-class performing musicians from around the world. Each autumn, Prague’s concert season is launched by a spectacular festival that bears the name of the Czech composer who is most famous around the world. Since early 2008, the presenter of the Dvořák Prague Festival has been the Academy of Classical Music, which has taken Antonín Dvořák’s creative legacy under its wing. 

Antonín Dvořák and His Works

Taking Dvořák to Prague may seem like taking coals to Newcastle, but the busy festival schedule shows that the oeuvre of the most frequently performed Czech composer contains much music that is known only superficially if at all. For this reason the festival, which is divided into programme series, reserves a place of special importance for the series titled the Dvořák Collection, which focuses on the systematic performing and recording of large cycles of categories of Dvořák’s works.

Among other things, the festival has been responsible for performances of several early Dvořák operas and all of this symphonic works and music for voices and orchestra. An all-day marathon concert presented Dvořák’s complete piano music, which the curator of the event, Ivo Kahánek, recorded on CD at the initiative of the Academy of Classical Music and with its significant support – this was the first such recording made in more than 50 years. Recently, the festival moved on to performances of all of the composer’s chamber music, and beginning with the next festival season, the focus will be on his complete works for string quartet.

Chamber Music Series

At present, the Dvořák Collection overlaps with the festival’s Chamber Series. That series has gained an extraordinary following thanks in part to the participation of high-profile curators who put together programmes and invite their artistic friends to join them for the performances. So far, the curators have been the violinist Gil Shaham, the cellist Jiří Bárta, the clarinettist Sharon Kam, the pianists Ivo Kahánek, Boris Giltburg, and Lukáš Vondráček, and the French horn player Radek Baborák.

Support for young talents

The Dvořák Prague Festival sees Dvořák’s teaching activities and support for talented musicians as another important part of the genius’s legacy. In this way, the festival also gives a great opportunity to young and beginning artists, devoting to them its series For the Future. Since 2020 it has been the co-presenter of the competition Concertino Praga, and that same year it established the tradition of festival concerts of the Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic. The festival has long been introducing new faces from festival stages around the world in the form of debut recitals or solo appearances with orchestra.

On the Trail of Antonín Dvořák

Enthusiastic admirers of Dvořák’s life and works can set out on the trail of Maestro Dvořák. These excursions go to places that the composer actually visited or that are associated with him in some way. The festival public has already visited the flat of the composer’s patron Josef Hlávka, they have admired Dvořák sites in Sychrov, Kroměříž, and Pilsen, and of course they have travelled to Nelahozeves, Vysoká near Příbram, and many other places. On our promenades around Prague, many were surprised to discover that Dvořák often went to the restaurant U Zpěváčků for lunch and visited the organ school that was based at the present-day site of the Ponrepo Cinema.

World-Class Orchestras, Conductors, and Soloists

The main venue for the Dvořák Prague Festival is the Rudolfinum, where Antonín Dvořák conducted the first concert of the Czech Philharmonic in 1896. That is one reason why the orchestra has been the festival’s ensemble-in-residence from the very beginning, contributing several concerts to each year’s festival as part of its own series. In 2021 the orchestra shared this honour with the Bamberg Symphony, which also has its roots in Prague. The programme series World Class Orchestras consists of concerts given by other symphonic ensembles. In the festival’s history, this series has presented such orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Those orchestras and others have appeared in collaboration with such important figures as Herbert Blomstedt, Zubin Mehta, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Neeme Järvi, Antonio Papano, Jiří Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, Sir András Schiff, Yo Yo Ma, Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman, guaranteeing performances of top quality and promising festival audiences special experiences.

Antonín Dvořák and His Legacy

Since the festival’s founding, its systematic programming organised into clearly defined series has attracted more than 200,000 audience members, and during the upcoming festival, the total number of concerts will pass the 300 mark including works of the instrumental, symphonic, vocal-instrumental, and chamber music repertoire. However, it is not a number of concerts or of audience members that the presenter of the festival, the Academy of Classical Music, has set as the goal of its efforts. The basic task that the organisational team is attempting to carry out is the presenting of Antonín Dvořák’s life and music to the public at large and to the musical community in historical and cultural contexts. Antonín Dvořák truly represents one of the major symbols of Czech national and cultural identity.