‘Year of Czech Music’ Arrives with 2014

Opus Osm

'The Year of Czech Music 2014' celebrates a montage of Czech music and music anniversaries.

This year you’ll see lots of references to this special ‘Year 2014.’ Read on to learn about this special Czech observation which occurs only in years ending in the numeral 4.

“The Year of Czech Music 2014” brings together some of the biggest names in Czech music, both domestically and abroad, professional and non-professional, for more than 700 events throughout the year: concerts, exhibits, premieres, commissions, recording releases, and more.

And in 2014, more than 60 prominent Czech composers, performers, and musical organizations will observe anniversaries of one sort or another — the year of their birth, or death, or just a milestone year. The “Year” tradition began in the year 1924, the centennial of Bedřich Smetana’s birth.

This Year’s artistic patrons are mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and her husband, conductor Sir Simon Rattle; the Year’s honorary president is conductor Jiří Bělohlávek; and its political patron is Czech President Miloš Zeman, according to “The Year of Czech Music 2014” coordinator Lenka Dohnalová.

The 'Year's' logo

But more than just assembling a roster of musical anniversaries and influencers, the objective of the “Year of Czech Music” is to also support projects promoting Czech music – classical, of course, but this year also including folk and jazz – both at home and abroad, according to the organizers. One project, “Czech Dreams,” is set to involve musical collaboration with 23 countries. Details are to be announced.

This year’s “Year” also carries the sub-title “Creativity and Cooperation,” to increase the efficiency and impact not only of financial support, but also to emphasize “shared creative invention,” with focus on new methods of education, the inclusion of cooperation with schools, and attention to the knotty problem of building audiences.

So what can you look forward to in this Year of Czech Music 2014? Here are just a few of the highlights:

Jan 1: The Year opens with the world premiere of the orchestral version of Dvořák’s Love Songs, arranged by composer Jiří Teml and featuring The Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek with soloist Magdalena Kožená

Jan 7: Martinů’s Mirandolina, by the Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, at Prague’s Theatre of the Estates

Mar 10: Piano recital by Smetana specialist Jitka Čechová

May 1: A “Marathon of Antonín Dvořák’s Songs” in Ostrava, presenting about 90 of his songs in 6 hours

May 30-Jun 1: “Weekend of Czech Chamber Music,” 12 performances within the Prague Spring International Music Festival

December (date to be announced): New Land, premiere of an Alois Hába opera based on Gladkov’s novella depicting collectivization in a Soviet village

Dec 17: Gala Concert at 02 Arena, featuring world soloists and Czech professional orchestras

Prague is always a fantastic place to hear world-class Czech music. During “The Year of Czech Music 2014” it will be even more so – and starting now, not only in Prague, but in many places around the world. – oo

–Mary Matz, editor of Opus Osm

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