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Life and experience

The Czech conductor
Jirí Belohlávek


'I grew up in a very musical family and developed a very early affinity for music thanks to my father. At that time, during the Communist era in the 1950s and even the early 1960s, many of the professional people in Czechoslovakia would regularly play chamber music.

'My father's friends would come every week to play in our home, and when my father himself returned from work each day he loved to sit down and play the piano endlessly.

'My father was my first piano teacher -- which was predictably a disaster inasmuch as fathers very seldom find it exactly easy to teach their sons!

'Then I started the cello -- one of my teachers was the great Czech cellist Milos Sadlo. But I have to admit I neglected things and never became a strong soloist -- partly because as a boy I was an ice hockey fanatic (the Czechs, like the Russians, were rather good at it) and whenever I practised the cello later on my bow arm would soon start to ache quite badly.

'I sang in a children's choir which also appeared at the National Opera in Prague, and later in a mixed choir, and quite early on I started to work with them as an assistant chorus master; so by the age of fourteen I was already conducting choirs. During my teens at the Prague Conservatoire I also formed a small chamber orchestra and began to conduct them in some of the core repertoire.'

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Copyright © 27 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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