6 March 2017
Our concert at St David’s Hall this month (Sun 19 Mar, 3pm) will be the latest opportunity to see our new Music Director Tomáš Hanus in action. Tomáš originates from Brno in the Czech Republic and is recognised as one of his country’s most exciting and important conductors. The concert features the music of two Czech composers (Suk and Dvořák) and, by co-incidence, takes place on the day of a Czech festival celebrating St Joseph.
St Joseph's Day (Den Svatého Josefa) is described as a more sedate version of Ireland’s St Patrick's Day. Josef was historically one of the most common Czech male names, for example, the village of Josefovice once had at least one Josef living in every one of its houses! With over 250,000 Czech men still named Josef it is no wonder that the name day is still celebrated across the nation and mentioned on the news every year. Czechs traditionally wear their national colour red for the event and parades are held throughout the country.
Josef Suk (4 Jan 1874 – 29 May 1935) was a composer and violinist born in Křečovice, Bohemia. He studied under Antonín Dvořák, whose daughter he later married. From a young age, he was deeply involved in music. He learned the organ, violin, and piano from his father, Josef Suk senior, and was trained further in violin by the Czech violinist Antonín Bennewitz. While Suk was studying under Dvořák at the Prague Conservatory, Dvořák noticed a melancholy strain in much of Suk's music, and recommended he write some lighter and more cheerful music. Based on Dvořák's suggestion, Suk produced a Serenade for Strings (1892) which we will be sharing with audiences on 19 March.
Antonín Leopold Dvořák (8 Sep 1841 – 1 May 1904) was, after Bedřich Smetana, the second Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. Dvořák displayed his musical gift at an early age, being an apt violin student from age six. The first public performances of his works were in Prague in 1872 and, with special success, in 1873, when he was age 31. Symphony No 7 in D minor of 1885, Op 70, was written when Dvořák was struggling to have his Czech operas accepted in Vienna, feeling pressure to write operas in German.
The concert also includes Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 20, played by exciting young Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov.