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Jiří Bělohlávek

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Title: Jiří Bělohlávek  
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Subject: Czech Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Václav Talich, Gramophone Award, The Proms
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Jiří Bělohlávek

Jiří Bělohlávek at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, October 2013

Jiří Bělohlávek CBE (Czech pronunciation: ; born 24 February 1946) is a Czech conductor. His father was a barrister and judge.[1] In his youth Bělohlávek studied cello with Miloš Sádlo[2] and was later a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. After graduation he studied conducting, for two years, with Sergiu Celibidache.[3]


  • Career in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic 1
  • International career 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Career in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic

Bělohlávek won the Czech National Conducting Competition in 1970. He later served for two years as an assistant conductor at the Czech Philharmonic.[4] From 1972 to 1978 he was associated with the Brno Philharmonic, taking it on tours of Austria, Germany and the United States. From 1977 to 1989, he was chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

Bělohlávek became chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in 1990. However, in 1991, the orchestra reorganized and controversially voted to appoint Gerd Albrecht its new principal conductor to replace Bělohlávek. Instead of remaining until Albrecht's accession, Bělohlávek resigned from the Czech Philharmonic in 1992.[5] He subsequently founded the Prague Philharmonia (Pražskou komorní filharmonii) in 1993, after the Czech Ministry of Defence had offered funding for training 40 young musicians. Bělohlávek had auditioned musicians for the orchestra, but the ministry withdrew its funding the next year. He subsequently secured private funding for the orchestra, and served as its first music director.[3] Since the orchestra's public debut in 1994, he has recorded and performed in concerts worldwide with the orchestra.[6] He conducted the Prague Philharmonia at its first BBC Proms appearance in 2004, in a televised performance.[7] In 2005, he relinquished his post with the Prague Philharmonia, and now is the orchestra's conductor laureate.

In 1997, Bělohlávek became Professor of Conducting at the Prague Academy of Music and became principal guest conductor of the opera company of the Národní divadlo (Prague National Theatre) the following year.[8] He is also currently chairman of the Prague Spring International Music Festival. In December 2010, his re-appointment to the chief conductorship of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was announced, effective with the 2012-2013 season, with an initial contract of 4 years.[9]

International career

From 1995 to 2000, Bělohlávek was principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO). In February 2005, he was named its twelfth chief conductor, effective July 2006, with an initial contract of 3 years.[10][11] Bělohlávek is the first past BBC SO principal guest conductor to be named chief conductor of the BBC SO.[12] His tenure with the BBC SO began with the First Night of the 2006 Proms.[13] He first conducted the Last Night of the Proms in 2007,[14] the first conductor of the Last Night who is not a native English speaker.[12] In September 2007, Bělohlávek extended his contract with the BBC Symphony to 2012.[15][16] He made a guest appearance at the 2009 Last Night as one of the vacuum cleaner performers in Malcolm Arnold's A Grand, Grand Overture.[17] Bělohlávek conducted the Last Night of the Proms again in 2010[18] and in 2012.[19] He concluded his BBC SO chief conductorship in 2012 and now has the title of conductor laureate with the BBC SO.[20] In April 2012, Bělohlávek was awarded an honorary CBE "for services to music".[21]

In opera, Bělohlávek has conducted Jenůfa, Tristan und Isolde and Rusalka at Glyndebourne Opera.[22] He made his Metropolitan Opera (Met) debut on December 17, 2004 conducting Káťa Kabanová, with Karita Mattila in the title role.[23] He returned to the Met in January and February 2007 for Jenůfa and again in February and March 2009 for Eugene Onegin and Rusalka.

Bělohlávek first guest-conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO) in 1994. In April 2012, the RPhO announced the appointment of Bělohlávek as its next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2012-2013 season.[24]

Bělohlávek has made recordings for the Supraphon,[25] Chandos, Harmonia Mundi,[26] Warner Classics,[27] and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.


  1. ^ Norman Lebrecht (2006-07-10). "The man who's changing the sound of the BBC". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  2. ^ "Miloš Sádlo (obituary)". The Telegraph. 23 October 2003. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  3. ^ a b Tim Ashley (2001-03-01). "The sound of freedom". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  4. ^ Allan Kozinn (11 October 1990). "Czech Philharmonic With Its New Leader". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  5. ^ John Rockwell (30 December 1992). "Czech Philharmonic Faces Perilous Times In Dividing Country". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  6. ^ Geoffrey Norris (8 June 2006). "I've never been to the Last Night". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  7. ^ Erica Jeal (24 July 2004). "Prague Philharmonia (review of Prom 4, 2004)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  8. ^ Graham Melville-Mason (23 August 1995). "Obituary: Zdenek Kosler". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  9. ^ "Bělohlávek to become Czech Philharmonic's chief conductor in 2012". Prague Daily Monitor. 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  10. ^ "Jirí Belohlávek appointed Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra" (Press release). BBC Press Office. 1 February 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  11. ^ Geoffrey Norris (2 Feb 2005). "I'm here to raise the standard". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  12. ^ a b Andrew Clark (6 July 2007). "The quiet cosmopolitan". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  13. ^ Tom Service (17 July 2006). "BBCSO/Belohlavek". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  14. ^ Tim Ashley (10 September 2007). "Prom 72". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  15. ^ Stephen Moss (6 September 2007). "'If I understand the heckles, I'll respond'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  16. ^ Geoffrey Norris (10 September 2007). "BBC Proms 2007: Last Night of the Proms". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  17. ^ Edward Seckerson (14 September 2009). "Prom 76: The Last Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  18. ^ "Prom 76: The Last Night of the Proms".  
  19. ^ George Hall (2012-09-09). "Prom 76: Last Night of the Proms – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  20. ^ "BBC Symphony Orchestra announces new Chief Conductor" (Press release). BBC. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  21. ^ "Jiri Bělohlávek awarded an honorary CBE for services to music" (Press release). BBC. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  22. ^ Charlotte Higgins (2 February 2005). "'Grumpy? What's that?'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  23. ^ Anthony Tommasini (20 December 2004). "A Love Triangle Contorted by Authority Figures". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  24. ^ "Jirí Belohlávek CBE vaste gastdirigent Rotterdams Philharmonisch" (Press release). Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. 13 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  25. ^ Andrew Clements (2 April 2004). "Dvorak: The Stubborn Lovers: Kloubova/ Brezina/ Sykorova/ Belacek/ Janal/ Prague Philharmonia/ Belohlavek". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  26. ^ Andrew Clements (19 August 2005). "Mozart: Symphonies Nos 35 & 36, Prague Philharmonia/ Belohlavek". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  27. ^ Andrew Clements (3 November 2006). "Dvorak: Symphonies Nos 5 & 6; Scherzo Capriccioso; The Hero's Song, BBCSO/ Belohlavek". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 

External links

  • Jiří Bělohlávek official home page
  • Jiří Bělohlávek at AllMusic
  • IMG Artists agency biography of Jiří Bělohlávek
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra biography of Jirí Belohlávek
  • Prague Philharmonic biography of Jirí Belohlávek
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office, "Honorary awards - Order of the British Empire (Civil Division)". 10 April 2012
  • Czech Philharmonic Orchestra biography of Jirí Belohlávek
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Jindřich Rohan
Music Director, Prague Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Petr Altrichter
Preceded by
(no predecessor)
Music Director, Prague Philharmonia
Succeeded by
Kaspar Zehnder
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