Quartet founder dies, 95

Quartet founder dies, 95


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2019

Břetislav Novotný, forced into slave labour under the German occupation, was one of Prague’s more enterprising violinists.

Concertmaster of the Prague Symphony Orchestra from 1954, he founded the City of Prague String Quartet which recorded copiously for Supraphon and toured internationally.

In later years he conducted the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic.



  • Bill Ecker says:

    He played for both the original Prague String Quartet which played from the 1920’s to the 1960’s with various changes except for the violist Ladislav Cerny and after they foleded in 1966, his City of Prague String Quartet which was made up of musicians from the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK (Film, Orchestra, Concert) he changed the name to the Prague String Quartet. Ostensibly, he bridged the two ensembles together. RIP.

  • Tully Potter says:

    Not the Prague Quartet, the City of Prague Quartet. Novotny did play for a while in the old Prague Quartet. His ensemble specifically chose a different name.

  • Malcolm Kottler says:

    Here is his website:


    It gives the history of his Prague String Quartet here:


  • David K. Nelson says:

    His unaccompanied Bach set would perhaps not be my top recommendation but I recall it being solidly played and very musical. I cannot seem to find it on my shelves so I assume it is yet another of my “long term loans” that is unlikely to be returned.

    • Sol L Siegel says:

      This is a searching, “alternative” interpretation that I still like very much. RIP.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      RIP, Mr. Novotný. You had a lovely career and a long life, full of respect from your colleagues.
      BTW, David, I feel your pain re: not being able to locate a recording you (think you) know you have.
      I have, in approximate chronological order of technology, 78s, LPs, 45s, EPs, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs in shelves and boxes all over my home. Thousands and thousands and thousands of them. It drives my sweet and lovely wife crazy, and it’s often very difficult to put my hands on something I’m looking for. Sometimes I just give up!
      I refer to the whole shebang as “the archive”.
      Which drives my wife even crazier.