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Vivaldi Four Seasons in Old Prague

Prague, Baroque Refectory of the Dominican Convent of St. Giles (Kostel svatého Jiljí) — Baroque Refectory

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About the Event

Step back in time with artists performing chamber music classics like Carmen and works by Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Händel, Bach, Vivaldi, Bizet, and Rossini in Prague's beautiful Baroque Refectory of the Dominican Convent of St. Giles (Kostel svatého Jiljí).

Program

  • Georges Bizet – Carmen – Overture from Carmen
  • Georg Friedrich Händel – Lascia ch´io pianga (from the opera Rinaldo)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Divertimento in D major, KV (selection)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Agnus Dei (from Coronation Mass)
  • Antonín Dvořák – Slavonic Dance No. 8
  • Franz Schubert – Ave Maria
  • Johann Sebastian Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor
  • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Theme from Ballet Swan Lake
  • Antonín Dvořák – Rusalka´s aria (from the Opera „Rusalka“)
  • Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons Spring & Winter
  • Gioachino Rossini – Una voce poco fa (from the Opera The Barber of Seville))
Program is subject to change

Artists

Ensemble: Chamber Ensemble of Dvořák Symphony Orchestra

The Dvořák Symphony Orchestra includes performers from Prague's leading ensembles. The Dvořák Symphony Orchestra members often perform in smaller chamber ensembles, depending upon the demands of the repertoire.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Perhaps the most important composer of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer of the late 18th century. Born in 1756 in Salzburg, he showed prodigious musical talent from childhood. Beginning at five years of age, he composed more than 600 works, including concertos, symphonies, religious works and operas before his premature death at the age of 35. Hi influence over successive generations cannot be overestated - Ludwig van Beethoven wrote of Mozart "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”. Despite the immense success of his compositions, and the acclaim he received across Europe, Mozart achieved little financial security and rwas buried in an unmarked grave in Vienna's St Marx Cemetery.

Franz Schubert

During his rather short life, Franz Schubert, one of the fathers of romanticism in music, had always been an unappreciated genius who had never received public acclaim. Only his family and friends were delighted by his music, and most of his works were discovered and published only many years after his death. Franz Schubert was born on the 31th of March 1797 in the suburbs of Vienna. His father and eldest brother were amateur musicians and they taught him to play piano and violin. At the age of 11 Schubert was a singer in a choir at the Lichtenthal parish and later auditioned for Antonio Salieri and admitted to the emperor’s choir. During that period young Franz started composing his own works. However, after his voice broke he had to leave the choir and in 1814 he started working as a teacher in the same parish school as his father. He never stopped composing and 4 years later he decided to quit teaching and devote his life completely to music. He fell out with his father because of that and struggled to make ends meet. In 1818 Schubert went to Vienna, where he met Vogl. Together they gave private concerts in small aristocratic circles, mainly playing Lieder, which Schubert wrote around 600. Franz Schubert gave only one big public concert in his whole life in March 1828, which was very warmly received by the audience. However, his health was deteriorating and in November the same year he died of thyroid fever at the age of 31.

Antonín Dvořák

Antonin Dvorak is considered to be one of the most well-known and prominent Czechs in the world, as his musical work gained international recognition already during his lifetime. He was born in 1841 in a small Czech village into a butcher’s family. At the age of 6, Dvorak started taking violin lessons and it immediately became obvious that the boy had exceptional talent in music. Later in life, he was learning to master piano and organ as well as simultaneously working in a slaughterhouse. After Dvorak turned 16, he was admitted to the Organ School in Prague that trained future professional composers. After graduating, he stayed in Prague, joined Karel Komzak’s orchestra and started actively composing his own music. However, he struggled to make ends meet and always had to work on the side by playing music in churches and giving private music lessons. Finally, 1874 became a turning point in his life when he won a financial grant from an Austrian Prize competition for his 15 submitted works. This allowed him to quit the orchestra and devote himself fully to composing. During this period, he wrote his Slavonic Dances, Moravian Duets and Violin Concerto, which brought him sweeping success. In 1892 he was invited to teach at the New York National Conservatory, where he stayed until 1895 before returning home. He started teaching at the Prague conservatory and later became its director. Until his death in 1904, he had been a successful and well-loved composer, both in his homeland and around the whole world.

Georg Friedrich Händel

An English subject with German origins, Georg Handel was truly a musical pioneer, combining musical traditions of English, Italian and German composers. He was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany, into a very religious and conservative family. His father was dreaming for his son to become a lawyer and would not let young Georg play musical instruments at home. But the Duke Johann Adolf accidentally heard him playing in the chapel and convinced Georg's father to let his son receive a musical education. Thus, Handel became a pupil of the famous organ player and composer Friedrich Zachow. The first success came to Handel in 1705 when he moved to Hamburg and staged his two premiere operas, Almira and Nero, in the Oper am Gänsemarkt. Almira immediately became a highlight of the theatre and was performed around 20 times. Later next year Handel moved to Italy were he received high acclaim and was put on the same level as renowned Italian composers of the time. In 1710 Handel travelled to London where later he decided to settle down. There he wrote a sacred choral piece "Te Deum" that was played in St. Paul´s Cathedral at the ceremony devoted to signing the Utrecht Treaty. From that moment onwards he became the leading composer of England, as the country did not have any native prominent composers. His oeuvre was mainly focused on operas, but by 1730 the genre of Italian opera ceased to be popular and Handel´s success dwindled. During the last years of his life until his death in 1759 he was mainly composing oratorias, including his famous and magnificent Messiah.

Johann Sebastian Bach

The name Bach and the word musician had long been synonyms in Germany as the world saw 56 musicians from this kin. But it was Johann Sebastian Bach, a genius composer and virtuoso organ player, who shed lustre on his family name. He was born on th 31st of March 1685 in Eisenach, a small town in Thuringia. At the age of 10 he became an orphan and was brought up by his elder brother Johann Christoph, who was an organist in a neighbouring town. His brother was the one to teach music to the young Johann Sebastian. Later he moved to Luneburg where he attended a church school and mastered the techniques of playing violin, viola, piano and organ by the age of 17. Besides that, Bach was a choir singer and later after his voice broke he became a chanter’s assistant. In 1703 Bach was hired as a court musician in the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst III. He earned such a good reputation there that he was later invited to Arnstadt to be an organist at the New Church, where he wrote his best organ works. In 1723 he moved to Leipzig to be a chantor at St. Thomas Church where he stayed until his death of a stroke in 1750. In the year of his death he had undergone unsuccessful eye surgery which lead him to lose his eyesight. During that strenuous time his second wife Anna Magdalena helped him to write his last musical pieces. Bach’s artistic legacy is vast. He created compositions in all genres of the time: oratorias, cantatas, masses, motets, music for organ, piano and violin.

Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi went down in history as a creator of the instrumental concert genre and the father of orchestral music. He was born in Venice on the 4th of March 1678. Vivaldi was a weak and sickly child suffering from asthma, however could not stop him from devoting himself completely to music. His father, Giovanni Batista a professional violinist, taught his elder son Antonio to play the violin. With his father young Antonio met the best musicians of Venice of that time and gave concerts in local churches. He also worked as a violin teacher and later as a music director at the orphanage Ospedalle della Pieta. Meanwhile he composed concertos, sacred works and vocal music and in 1713 he achieved great recognition with his sacred choral music. Vivaldi got captivated by the world of opera and worked both as opera composer and impresario at the Teatro San Angelo. In 1717 he obtained a prestigious position by the prince court in Manua as a director of secular music and worked there until around 1720. During that time he composed his world-renowned masterpiece The Four Seasons. In the 1730's his career dwindled as his music became unfashionable and the great composer died in poverty. It took the world two centuries to rediscover and reevaluate Vivaldi’s music, as it was buried into oblivion after his death. In the early 20th century many previously unknown works were found and immediately captured the hearts of the music lovers.

Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet devoted his relatively short life of 36 years to the musical theatre. The opera Carmen, pearl of his oeuvre, is still one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. He was born in 1838 into a musically educated family – his father was a singing teacher and his mother a professional piano player. At the age of 4, young George could already read notes and play the piano, and six years later he became enrolled at the Paris Conservatory. After finishing his studies, Bizet won the prestigious Prix de Rome for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde, that allowed him to work solely on his own compositions for five years. He spent four rather carefree years in Italy from 1857 to 1860 where he travelled, composed and developed his talent. After coming back to Paris, he faced struggles and found it very difficult to achieve recognition for his music. In order to make a living, he gave private lessons, composed light entertaining music and made arrangements of piano works by other composers. In fact, he could have easily become a successful pianist as he was a virtuoso piano player and once impressed Franz Liszt himself with the performance of one of Liszt’s piano compositions. But Georges Bizet did not look for a way to make easy money and was adamant about his intention to only compose music. In 1872 he wrote two operas, Djamileh and L’Arlesienne, which were received very coldly but now are considered to be a representation of Bizet’s artistic maturity. Soon before his death in 1875, Carmen premiered in the Opera Comique, but the audience’s verdict was rather negative. Never having witnessed public acclaim during his life, George Bizet now is one of the most famous opera composers in history.

Gioachino Rossini

Gioachino Rossini was an Italian composer of the 19th century. He made his debut at the age of 18 and soon became one the most popular opera composer in history. His best known operas are The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia), The Italian Girl in Algiers (L'italiana in Algeri), and Cinderella (La Cenerentola). In general, his style can be defined as song-like melodic which earned him the nickname of "the Italian Mozart”. Later on he became famous for his exciting buildup of orchestral sound over a repeated phrase, which is now known as a "Rossini crescendo”.

Address

Baroque Refectory of the Dominican Convent of St. Giles (Kostel svatého Jiljí), Husava 8, Prague, Czech Republic — Google Maps

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