The Brno Philharmonic has an illustrious history of music making, its beginnings dating back to the 1870s when its first predecessor, the amateur Czech Symphony Orchestra, was established under the auspices of Leoš Janáček and housed in the purpose-built Besední dům, the present orchestra's magnificent home. Formed in 1956 after the merger of the Radio Orchestra and the Brno Region Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic has long been regarded as one of the best orchestras in this country.

 In Brno, the orchestra give around 40 concerts annually in the pleasant ambience and excellent acoustics of Besední dům, as well as presenting regular concert series in the Janáček Theatre (c. 25 concerts a year). In addition, they perform frequently in towns and cities throughout the Czech Republic, making regular appearances at prestigious Czech festivals such as the Prague Spring (a festival which the orchestra were honoured to open in 2008).  The Brno Philharmonic went on its first foreign tour in 1956 and has since given well over 700 concerts throughout Europe, as well as in the USA and the Far East. These have included appearances on some very special occasions - for example, a concert for the Pope at the Vatican in 2000, the Toyota Classics in the capitals of six Asian countries in 2004, the Rheingau Music Festival in Germany in 2005, and the Klubhaus Konzerte in Switzerland in 2005. Most recently, the ensemble performed at Munich's Gasteig (in 2006 and in 2007), Vienna's Musikverein (2006 and 2007), Cheltenham's Town Hall (2007), Milan's Auditorium (2007), and Stuttgart's Liederhalle (2007). Worth mentioning, too, is the orchestra's 2007 tour of Japan as well as the tours that the orchestra are preparing at the moment: four of Austria (two with Elina Garanca and Karel Mark Chichon), two of Germany (including a performance at Rgeingau Music Festival), one of Slovenia, one of Croatia, etc.

The orchestra has collaborated with a number of distinguished conductors, including Karel Ancerl, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, and Yehudi Menuhin, and has thrived on musical partnerships with a number of exceptional soloists: Yefim Bronfman, Elina Garanca, Gidon Kremer, Wilhelm Kempff, John Lill, Julian Rachlin, Sviatoslav Richter, and Eva Urbanova, to name but a few. At the moment, the orchestra are preparing perforances with for example Rudolf Buchbinder, Sophia Jaffé, Olga Kern, Johannes Moser, and Fazil Say.

The Brno Philharmonic has often been labelled as Janacek's orchestra, and rightly so. Brno, where the composer lived and worked, has always been a lively centre for his music. Since its foundation in 1956, the ensemble has given well over three hundred performances of works by Janáček, at concerts both in the Czech Republic and abroad. It has also recorded Janáček's complete symphonic and cantata works. Most recently, they have recorded a Janacek CD with Jakub Hrusa conducting and, in September 2009, they are recording a Janacek CD with Sir Charles Mackerras  conducting. Both CDs are done for Supraphon.

 The BPO has recorded extensively with Supraphon - a record company boasting a long and distinguished history, and which is nowadays the largest and most prestigious in the Czech Republic - and has also made a number of high-quality recordings with Sony Music, IMG Records and BMG, as well as with a number of other well-known record labels. Most recently, the ensemble have recorded with Music Sales (March 2006 and March 2008), Classic FM and Sony BMG (June 2006), Channel 4 (March 2007), Supraphon (March 2008), Royal National Theatre in London (March 2008) and Universal (March 2008). In 1956, when it was formed, the Brno Philharmonic began to collaborate with Czech Radio, and this relationship has continued up until the present day.

Robert Hanc




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