Breaking news: Czech Phil takes new chief from its dark past

Breaking news: Czech Phil takes new chief from its dark past


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2010

The next music director of the Czech Philharmonic will be a conductor first appointed under communism, thrown out by the players in an act of free market madness and standing ever since as a living reproach to the orchestra’s collective misbehaviour.

It has been announced in Prague that Jiri Belohlavek will resume his duties in September 2012 at the helm of the only Czech cultural institution of international standing. He will succeed the Israeli, Eliahu Inbal, the last of a long run of fix-it conductors who fixed nothing.
Belohlavek, meanwhile, founded a rival Prague Philharmonic and earned worldwide acclaim as the foremost living Czech conductor. He presently heads the BBC Symphony Orchestra. 

His return is outstandingly good news for music in the Czech Republic. He is clean of all political connections and corruption, past or present, and he ought to raise the Czech Phil from deepening demoralisation. Earlier this year the orchestra launched legal action against the country’s culture minister, its own former manager, alleging criminal misuse of funds.
It speaks volumes for Belohlavek’s integrity that he is prepared to stake his reputation on so murky an enterprise. Czech reports say he will quit the BBC after the 2012 Proms to devote the greater part of his work to rebuilding the national orchestra. The BBC has not confirmed his departure.
Here’s the local report. 
Photo credit: C Christodoulou/Lebrecht Music & Arts


  • Marie Lamb says:

    Excellent news; as mentioned, he shouldn’t have been driven out in the first place. He’ll be missed by the BBC Symphony and its listeners, but best wishes to him as he tries to straighten things out back home!

  • Joan says:

    I would have liked to be told why the orchestra musicians threw him out in the first place, since musicians when given half a chance and the power to do so, judge their conductors by the real work they do and the real music they make rather than by their extra-music politics, their charm in front of an audience, or their sex appeal. Sometimes it takes a long time for society,Boards and management to find out who the really good conductors are.