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Maestro stays: Six more years for Jiri, 70

January 3, 2017 by norman lebrecht

11 comments.


The Czech Philharmonic has renewed Jiří Bělohlávek as music director for a further six years,.

Jiří, 70, has been in charge since 2012, slowly restoring the orchestra’s international and recording profile.

It is his second spell as music director. He was elected by the players in 1990, after the fall of communism, only to be voted out a year later in favour of a German carpetbagger bearing fictional record contracts.  Jiří went on to found the rival Prague Philharmonia.


Comments (11)

  1. Olassus says:

    Salieri had a word for such musicians …

    Job should have gone to someone with energy and imagination: say, Tomáš Hanus.

    1. Alexander says:

      Bělohlávek or Albrecht? I assume you mean Albrecht, although I believe that his failings may have been more personal than musical.

      1. Olassus says:

        Albrecht was 10x the greater musician, and an explorer. Don’t know about his personality.

      2. Olassus says:

        … and of course they shouldn’t be choosing on the basis of personality — which is no doubt what the musicians and politicians have done in this case. JB apparently gets along with everyone, but that’s no benefit to the listener or to Czech Philharmonic history!

        1. Max Grimm says:

          Bělohlávek’s musicianship aside, do you happen to know how his health is? Last I heard he was fighting cancer and had to reduce his commitments.

          1. Olassus says:

            No, Max, no idea. Presumably he has recovered.

          1. Alexander says:

            I last saw Jiří Bělohlávek conducting Jenůfa at the Royal Festival Hall on 18 April 2016. If his name hadn’t been on the programme I doubt that I would have recognised him. His once stout figure was much diminished, his former shock of white hair had all but disappeared, and he had aged far beyond his 70 years. I sincerely hope that those who have seen him more recently have better news to report. One or two critics apparently disliked aspects of his interpretation, but it was certainly the most powerful performance of Jenůfa I have heard.

    2. Rgiarola says:

      Cute scene from the best ever motion picture….

      1. Alexander says:

        “Cute” is an odd way of describing it. Notwithstanding the historical inaccuracies of the film, the portrayal of a lunatic asylum in the early 19th century is horrific. I don’t know whether Viennese asylums were particularly more advanced than those in Britain, but if they were at all similar this scene is probably not too much exaggerated. At the time in Britain patients were commonly chained to walls and the public could pay to poke them with sticks. Not particularly “cute”.

  2. John strauss says:

    I cant believe some people here are talking so negatively about Jiri Belohlavek. He and a new intendant are responsible for a wonderful rebirth in the Czech Phil. Their prom a few years ago featured one of the most musical, satisfying and enriching performances of Beethoven 7 I have ever heard. He is one of the most sincere, well-prepared, musicianly and professional conductors working today. Their recent Dvorak cycle on decca features performances as beautiful as they are powerful. I hope he will remain a long time with the Czech Phil, and wish all health to this wonderful servant of music!


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