About Concertino Praga

Concertino Praga – the Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians

The Concertino Praga international radio competition for young musicians was established in 1966 at the initiative of Czech Radio and a number of personalities, such as Zuzana Růžičková, Viktor Kalabis and Helena Karásková. The competition was intended for young musicians who had decided to dedicate their lives to becoming professional performers. I can recall how, as a young boy, I watched the competition laureates’ concert from the Rudolfinum in Prague on television in awe, as my contemporaries displayed performances which seemed to me to be unattainable. And small wonder. The history of the Concertino Praga has seen successes by such greats as the violinists Václav Hudeček, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Sergei Stadler, Julian Rachlin, Isabelle Faust and Jan Mráček, the violoncellists Leonid Gorochov, Mikhail Rudin and Tomáš Jamník, the pianists Vladimír Felcman, Zoltán Kocsis, Igor Ardašev and Ivo Kahánek, the organist Jaroslav Tůma, the flautist Michael Martin Kofler, the oboe players Jana Brožková and Vilém Veverka, clarinettists such as Sabine Meyer or Ludmila Peterková, the French horn player Radek Baborák or the trumpeter Giuliano Sommerhalder. All of them now grace the world’s stages with great success and with memories of the competition which helped them to open up the door to the big, wide world of music.

The conjoining of the forces of Czech Radio and the Academy of Classical Music has led to the combining of the potential of the large media house, which established the competition and has successfully organised it for more than 50 years, and the institution, which has organised an internationally renowned music festival for 12 years. With its successful, systematic care of the works of Antonín Dvořák and presentation of top international performers, it has met its initial ambition of standing alongside festivals such as Lucerne, Salzburg, Verbier or the Prague Spring. The Academy of Classical Music and Czech Radio have come together above the outline of something which contains potential and has a rich history and an excellent idea at its heart. Namely, to support young, but exceptionally talented musicians with the assistance of public radio broadcasters. The goal of these institutions is, amongst other things, to disseminate a cultural legacy and to cultivate the environment in which we live. To this end, the goals of Czech Radio and of the Academy of Classical Music are identical. The negotiations with Czech Radio on co-promotion have been successfully completed and have resulted in the announcement of the 54th year of the Concertino Praga competition. The competition now bears the additional name of the Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians. We see Dvořák’s legacy in the fact that Dvořák himself actively and frequently supported promising young musicians, including in the form of financial scholarships, once he had  become established from the point of view of his artistic life and enjoyed certain existential certainties, namely while working at the conservatories in Prague and New York. This was an example to us as co-promoters and gave us inspiration to endeavour to support the successful participants in the Concertino Praga in the form of study scholarships or contributions towards the purchase of a musical instrument. This competition concept has become possible thanks to the continual efforts of Czech Radio and newly also thanks to the fundamental support of the Karel Komárek Family Foundation (KKFF).

Naturally, it is in our interests to attract the attention of the musical and the lay public alike to these exceptionally talented and hard-working young people and to present them as an example to their contemporaries.  It is appropriate here to mention several fundamental changes which should see the competition become even more attractive in future, both for the public and for the competitors and their teachers. In the past, the competitors were evaluated merely on the basis of their competition recordings. In the new model, the final round will take place live on stage in the Rudolfinum with the accompaniment of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. This final will be part of the regular program of the Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians. The competitors will definitely appreciate the fact that they will have the opportunity to perform on stage in the Rudolfinum accompanied by an excellent orchestra as part of the prestigious Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians and to do so for personalities such as Maxim Vengerov or David Geringas, who have already promised to participate in 2020. The competitors’ reward is the audience members’ applause and the feeling that they have appeared in the same festival as, for example, Zubin Mehta, Krystian Zimerman or Gil Shaham.  The references from the jury members, the study scholarships, the subsequent South Bohemian Concertino Praga festival, the studio radio recording made by Czech Radio and many other prizes and opportunities are without doubt also important motivators for participating in the competition. The same may also be true for the newly created Audience Prize in the final round, where the audience will vote for their favourites on stage during the concert.  And all of this will take place at a time when the competition candidates are just 15 or 16 years of age. So, the 54th Concertino Praga, Antonín Dvořák International Radio Competition for Young Musicians now awaits its participants and its audience members.