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Saturday, September 12, 2015, 8.00 pm
World-Class Orchestras


Charles Ives: The Unanswered QuestionAlban Berg: Violin concertoFranz Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944

One of London’s five main symphonic ensembles – the Philharmonia Orchestra – is coming to Prague together with its conductor emeritus for life, the eighty-six-year-old German maestro Christoph von Dohnányi, bringing two unique scores of German music. Schubert’s 'Great' Symphony in C major from the early nineteenth century spans like a bridge between the Classical and Romantic eras, while Berg’s Violin Concerto from the 1930s beautifully combines echoes of late Romanticism and Expressionism with compositional principles of modern music. The first work in this evening's concert––The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives––is an orchestral fantasy with a clearly-expressed programme and an effective subtext.  

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 7.55 pm
  • End of concert: 9.45 pm


Philharmonia Orchestra London

Was founded in London in 1945 for the needs of recording by the EMI gramophone company and consisted mainly of young musicians who had just returned from military service in the war. Among those who collaborated with the orchestra were Arturo Toscanini, Richard Strauss, and Wilhelm Furtwängler; for some time its chief conductor was Herbert von Karajan, succeeded after his departure to lead the Berlin Philharmonic by Otto Klemperer. Soon the ensemble's activities went beyond studio work. Further chief conductors were Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Christoph von Dohnányi, and currently that position is held by Esa Pekka-Salonen. Since 1995 the orchestra has had its concert base in the Royal Festival Hall. It is one of the most recorded ensembles in the world, with over a thousand titles including symphonic concert repertoire as well as film music. 

Philharmonia Orchestra London

Carolin Widmann

The German violinist Carolin Widmann is remarkable for her versatility: her repertoire ranges from works of the Classical period to contemporary compositions written especially for her, and besides her performances with important orchestras and conductors of the world she reaches with equal breadth into chamber music. She is also active in historically-informed performance using period instruments, guiding ensembles without a conductor from the first violin stand and collaborating especially in performances of Baroque music with the Akademie für alte Musik of Berlin.   

Carolin Widmann - violin

Christoph von Dohnányi

"Christoph von Dohnányi, for all his modest demeanour, knows exactly when to impose his authority on both soloist and orchestra alike, to powerfuleffect." (The Guardian)

The doyen of world conductors, has probably made his most striking mark during the six decades of his career while working in Cleveland, where he remained for the longest time and whose orchestra earned renown under his guidance as one of the best in America. Twenty years ago his assistant was the current head of the New York Philharmonic Alan Gilbert. Other cities where Dohnányi left a major imprint in musical history have been Lübeck, Cologne, Frankfurt, and especially Hamburg where he led the opera in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2010. Thanks to his collaboration with the Philharmonia Orchestra his places of work now also encompass London; from the mid-1990s until 2008 he was the ensemble's artistic director, and he remains its conductor emeritus to this day.  

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.