The programme for the Velvet Revolution Concerts includes 20th century works composed under difficult circumstances or with a troubled fate. Jakub Hrůša put together an original “Slavonic” programme of early works by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leoš Janáček, and Witold Lutosławski (Poland), who faced censorship because of artistic and civic ideals.
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (33')
— Intermission —
Suite for orchestra, Op. 3 (14')
Concerto for Orchestra (28')
Capriccio notturno e arioso
Passacaglia, toccata e corale
The idea of regularly presenting Czech Philharmonic concerts connected with the themes of freedom and democracy emerged several years ago for a simple reason: the orchestra wanted to create a tradition of special artistic events that would remind audiences of important milestones of Czech history—the protests of the 17th of November (1939 and 1989) and the circumstances surrounding them, their goals, ideals, and moments of tragedy and triumph. On a more general level, the idea was to present the works of composers whose music and lives were in some way marked by the struggle for freedom or recognition.
Ultimately the concert planned for last year at the Rudolfinum with an impressive programme (Miloslav Kabeláč: The Mystery of Time, Dmitri Shostakovich: Leningrad Symphony) did not take place because of emergency public health measures, but Czech Television did carry a broadcast of Smetana’s Má vlast under the baton of the Czech Philharmonic’s chief conductor Semyon Bychkov. Of course, Má vlast is one of those compositions that has a rich history of performances of all kinds and that has assumed a symbolic role, often being heard on ceremonial occasions or even at turning points of history. Clearly, the themes of freedom and democracy can be viewed from different perspectives in music, so there is plenty to choose from for programming.