The PKF – Prague Philharmonia, originally called the Prague Philharmonia, was founded in 1994 at the initiative of the world-famous conductor Jiří Bělohlávek to bring a breath of fresh air to the Czech and the global music scene in the form of a contagious élan and a drive to achieve superior performance of every detail of the score.
Soon after its founding, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia joined the ranks of the most respected Czech orchestras and established great renown in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
In its “manifesto”, the orchestra highlighted vigour, energy, and perfectionism, as well as a tremendous love for the music, with which it imbues each and every concert.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is beloved for its characteristic sound, created in large part by the key focus of its repertoire: Viennese Classicism, pieces by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. This area is the ensemble's primary domain, and an area at which it excels. The spirit of the art from this historical period is perfectly reflected in the PKF – Prague Philharmonia credo: to play with crystal-clear purity and a straightforward, sparkling passion that will ensure that every listener, regardless of age or profession, may understand every detail of the music performed and return home from its concerts full of joie de vivre. The art presented by the PKF – Prague Philharmonia is both exceptional and accessible to everyone.
The repertoire also includes Romance compositions, as well as modern and contemporary music, performed within a Special Concert series unique among the selections of Czech orchestras.
Since the beginning of the 2008–2009 season, the orchestra has been headed by Chief Conductor and Music Director Jakub Hrůša, whodespite his young age already enjoys great international renown. The ensemble's founder, the globally celebrated Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, was at its helm until 2005, when he was named the orchestra's Conductor Laureate. From 2005 to 2008, the Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia was the Swiss conductor and flautist Kaspar Zehnder. Since the beginning of the 2015–16 season, the post of Music Director and Chief Conductor will take the distinguished French conductor Emmanuel Villaume.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is a regular guest at international music festivals, frequently performs at prestigious world concert halls, and is a regular partner of world-famous conductors and soloists including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Milan Turković, Jefim Bronfman, András Schiff, Shlomo Mintz, Sarah Chang, Isabelle Faust, Mischa Maisky, Magdalena Kožená, Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Rolando Villazón, Plácido Domingo, Elina Garanča, Juan Diego Flórez, Radek Baborák, Thomas Hampson, and many others.
To date the orchestra has recorded more than 60 CDs for prominent Czech and foreign labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca,Supraphon, EMI, Warner Music, and Harmonia Mundi. Some of its albums have received such prestigious accolades as the RAC Canada Gold Disc (2000), the Harmonie Award (2001), and the Diapason d'Or (September 2007).
Guest artists featured on the PKF – Prague Philharmonia's recordings include Anna Netrebko, Eva Urbanová, Magdalena Kožená, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Iva Bittová, Peter Dvorský, Dagmar Pecková, and many others. The most critically acclaimed album is the live recording of the orchestra's performance of Smetana's My Country at Prague Spring 2010, conducted by Jakub Hrůša.
When it comes to music education, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia nurtures the talent of young musicians through its OrchestralAcademy project. This project enriches their practical experience of playing in an orchestra, thus boosting their competitiveness on the music market. From 2008, the Philharmonia has been partnering with the District Office of Prague 5 to present the Talent of Prague 5 competition, which offers young musicians the chance to perform in public with professional players.
Moreover, it is the first orchestra in the Czech Republic to offer Special Concerts for children and parents. Thanks to its design, the programme does not come across as dryly educational but acquaints children with classical music in a highly entertaining format. In addition to concert series for children, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia also holds performances for schools in the Czech language and in the third season in the English language as well, the only programme of its kind in the Czech Republic. The programmes for children include the Notička Children's Club, which strives to enhance children's aesthetic faculties and extend the possibilities of their leisure time activities.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is supported by the City of Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.