the concert will finish at 9.45 p.m.
The second concert of this season, and the first one with our chief conductor Emmanuel Villaume, will bring together two of the greatest symphonists: Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. However, with Beethoven this time we shall turn to a different genre, namely opera. The composer wrote only one operatic work, Fidelio, to a libretto about a political imprisonment, the power of love, and longing for freedom. Although Fidelio is an opera, we can hear Beethoven the symphonist even here. For his one and only opera he composed four different orchestral overtures. The version that has ultimately become the ‘standard’ in theatres will also be heard at this concert. For Johannes Brahms, Beethoven’s symphonic legacy seemed an unattainable ideal. He hesitated with his first symphony, and when he finished it years later, his admiration for Beethoven was clearly manifested in the piece. Despite all the respect for the quality of this symphony, it has been nonetheless nicknamed by many ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’. The Symphony No. 2 in D Major was for Brahms less of a struggle – its mood is calmer, even pastoral in places. And to Brahms and Beethoven on 14 November we shall add the greatest Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. Jan Simon, the distinguished Czech pianist, will perform his beautiful Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor.
Jan Simon - piano
Jan Simon began playing the piano under the guidance of his father, the composer, conductor and pianist Ladislav Simon, who alongside Jiří Bělohlávek, Ilja Šmíd and others stood at the birth of the Prague Philharmonia – PKF. He studied at the Prague Conservatoire and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Valentina Kameníková, Ivan Moravec) before continuing his musical education at Musikhochschule Lübeck (James Tocc), where he subsequently became a teacher and remained there until 1998. He is a laureate of several international piano competitions, his greatest achievement being the bronze medal won at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1991. Throughout his career Simon has collaborated with notable orchestras (the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic), conductors (Serge Baudo, Jiří Bělohlávek, and Libor Pešek) and performed in many famous concert halls (Suntory Hall, Carnegie Hall). As a chamber player he has given concerts alongside Josef Suk, Václav Hudeček, the Artemis, Panoch and Pražák Quartets. He currently collaborates especially with the cellist W. E. Schmidt. His discography comprises twenty albums, among the most acclaimed are recordings of complete piano concertos by Frédéric Chopin and Ludwig van Beethoven made in collaboration with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Prague Philharmonia – PKF. Since 2018 he has been director of programming for the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival.
Emmanuel Villaume — conductor
Emmanuel Villaume has been the principal conductor and music director of the PKF — Prague Philharmonia since the 2015-2016 season and is in his eighth year as musical director of Dallas Opera. In the 2020–2021 season he returns to the Metropolitan Opera in New York (Roméo et Juliette), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Samson and Delilah) and the Dallas Opera, where he is music director (Nozze di Figaro, Lohengrin, and a world premiere “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"). Together with the soprano Diana Damrau he was awarded the prestigious ECHO Klassik award in the category Opera Album of the Year, for their recording of Meyerbeer’s arias in 2017. In December 2017 he conducted the much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera’s production of Puccini’s Tosca, broadcast as part of the MET: Live in HD to more than 2000 cinemas in 73 countries. He regularly works with prestigious opera houses around the world: the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London; Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Metropolitan Opera New York, Lyric Opera in Chicago and San Francisco Opera. He has led productions in Washington National Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Teatro Real in Madrid, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Bavarian State Opera and Teatro La Fenice. Maestro Villaume has conducted leading world orchestras: Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Philharmonic in London; Chicago, San Francisco and Boston Symphonic Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic and NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. He is a sought-after partner of leading opera stars: Anna Netrebko, Diana Damrau, Bryan Hymel and Angela Gheorghiu. Born in Strasbourg in 1964, Emmanuel Villaume studied music at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg, followed by studies at École normale supérieure at the Sorbonne in Paris where he received degrees in literature, philosophy, and musicology. As an author of noted articles on musicology, Emmanuel Villaume was appointed Dramaturge of the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg at the age of 21. In the years 2001—2010 he was Music Director of Spoleto Festival. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Indianapolis University.