Inauguration of Petr Popelka as chief conductor, ft. violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann

3. říjen 2022

The inaugural concert of the new chief conductor of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Petr Popelka will include Arnold Schönberg’s monumental symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande and Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto performed by one of the finest violinists of our time, Frank Peter Zimmermann.

You can visit this evening event full of amazing performances and performers on Monday 3 October at the Rudolfinum. The concert will be broadcast live on ČRo Vltava and rebroadcast on ČRo D-dur.

With the new orchestra’s season comes new blood. Many of you have already met Petr Popelka at concerts, so you know about his former tenure at the Staatskapelle Dresden, where he performed as a deputy solo double bassist for nine years, and also about his meteoric rise to become one of the most sought-after conductors, which was all the more impressive because it occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. His collaboration with musicians is driven by intuition, energy and enthusiasm, so the public response to his concerts with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra has always been great and the impression he made lasted quite a long time. At the same time, he sparked great expectations for the future.

Frank Peter Zimmermann

Our common path starts now in the 2022/2023 season. For his inaugural concert, the new chief conductor has invited one of the best instrumentalists of our time, Frank Peter Zimmermann. The German violinist, who performs with orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, will play the Violin Concerto in D major by the German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms on violin made by the legendary Antonio Stradivari.

Brahms’ Violin Concerto

It was composed in 1878 during Brahms’ stay in Pörtschach on the banks of the Wörthersee. This work is ranked among the four best violin concertos in German music, alongside Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Bruch. Dedicated to one of the most renowned violinists of his time, Brahms’ close friend Joseph Joachim, the piece was labelled “unplayable” and written “not for the violin, but against it” by renowned artists at the time of its premiere. Indeed, Brahms did not compose a conventional virtuoso work in the style of Paganini, because he looked further and had higher ambitions for his artistic work. He wanted to underscore the musical aspect of the soloist’s art. With Peter Popelka and Frank Peter Zimmermann, we certainly have something great to look forward to.

Pelleas und Melisande

For the second half of the evening, the chief conductor chose the monumental symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande by Arnold Schönberg, one of the most influential composers of 20th-century music, whose twelve-note composition method was later further developed by his students and the post-WWII avant-garde. It remains somewhat paradoxical that of the entire body of work this revolutionary musical composer created, the pieces rooted in the aesthetics of late Romanticism are the most widely performed today. This is also the case with Pelleas und Melisande, based on the play of the same name by the Belgian symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck. The premiere was conducted by the composer himself in Vienna in 1905, and later he personally introduced the piece to the Prague audience as well.


Johannes Brahms: The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77
Arnold Schönberg: Pelleas und Melisande, symphonic poem, Op. 5

Petr Popelka conductor
Frank Peter Zimmermann violin

author: SOČR
Spustit audio


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