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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    LIFE AND EXPERIENCE


'I have very foggy but wonderful memories of hearing one concert by the great Czech conductor, Václav Talich : it must have been one of his last concerts, when I was aged about ten. But by far the biggest musical influence on me as I grew up were my teachers at the Academy, one of whom loved Mozart above all else, and gave me wonderful insights into him.

'In l968, at the time of Dubcek's Prague Spring and the Russian invasion on 21 August, I was a student and at same time music director of a small band in the theatre at Vinohrady. Soon afterwards I was drafted into the army for two years' National Service, and extremely luckily I found there was an opening for a conductor in the Army Symphony Orchestra.

'At that time the great Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibadache was a frequent guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, and he also held masterclasses for students at the Academy. After the first class he invited me to study with him.

'I was lucky enough to win first prize in a Czech National Conducting Competition, and doubly lucky in that this included opportunities for conducting the CPO, then directed by Vaclav Neumann. Later on I was to conduct them on tours abroad, and from l981-92 I took over the helm of the Czech Philharmonic, first as Permanent Conductor and then as Music Director.

Jirí Belohlávek
Jirí Belohlávek

'When I conduct Czech music abroad, for instance with the LSO or the CBSO, I don't try to teach these orchestras to "play Czech", i e to attempt to produce a "Czech sound" : that would be nonsense. What I try to do is build the phrasing, and to achieve a sonority and sound quality close to that which I hear in my ears and my imagination -- and that's certainly influenced by my experience of the Czech Philharmonic, and by my past life and musical experience in middle Europe.'

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Copyright © 27 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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