Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra
Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, currently in its 185th season, is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world. It was founded in 1835 by composer, violinist and conductor Josef Labitzký as a seasonal spa music ensemble. 40 years later Labitzký's son August changed it into a constant symphony orchestra with many activities and universal repertoire. It was this orchestra that performed the continental (European) premiere of Dvořák's New-World Symphony at the Poštovní dvůr on July 20, 1894.
To name all the people that were and are associated with the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra is an impossible task. One of them is violinist and conductor Robert Manzer, thanks to whom the orchestra gained excellent relationships with prominent personalities of European music such as Pablo Casals and Richard Strauss, among others. The orchestra has performed with renowned conductors Jiří Bělohlávek, Dean Dixon, Aram Khachaturian, Zdeněk Košler, Charles Mackerras, Libor Pešek, pianists Emil Gilels, Ivan Moravec, Pascal Gallet, Kun Woo Paik, Izumi Tateno, violinists David Oistrakh, Gidon Kremer, Josef Suk, Ivan Ženatý, Pavel Šporcl, Gabriela Demeterová, Václav Hudeček, cellists Peter Bruns, Mstislav Rostropovich and Jiří Bárta, the harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková and singers Magdalena Hajóssyová and Eva Urbanová.
One of the permanent conductors that significantly contributed to the profile of the orchestra was Václav Neumann, who later became chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimír Matěj, Josef Hercl and Radomil Eliška. Their legacy was continued by Douglas Bostock an Englishman, who realized numerous recordings CD with the orchestra between 1991 and 1998. Professor Jiří Stárek worked as a chief conductor with the orchestra between 2004 and 2009 and between July 2011 and June 2015 Frenchman Martin Lebel served as chief conductor of the orchestra. Jan Kučera now holds the post of chief conductor of the orchestra beginning his tenure in July of 2015.
Currently, the orchestra offers the lovers of great music regular subscription cycles, summer promenade concerts, educational concerts for children, young people and families, and also for seniors, and numerous special projects. These projects also include so-called "Crossover projects", in cooperation with interpreters of popular music (Aneta Langerová, Michal Prokop, Čechomor, Omega and others).
Traditionally the orchestra participates in the opening ceremony of the spa season in Karlovy Vary and also cooperates with the Karlovy Vary Jazzfest and prestigious Antonín Dvořák Vocal Competition.
Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra organizes two festivals. "Beethoven Days" since 1992 and also one of the oldest music festivals in Europe – "Dvořák’s Karlovy Vary Autumn" since 1958.