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Guide to the Prague Spring Festival


May 12th - June 3rd, 2018

The Prague Spring festival was founded in 1946 by the Czech conductor Rafael Kubelík, who was indisputably one of the world’s leading figures of 20th century music. The very first annual festival saw the participation of a number of distinguished Czech and foreign musicians, among whom the American composer, pianist, and conductor Leonard Bernstein would win the greatest fame in the course of the following decades. Bernstein’s appearance in Prague was his overseas debut, and it is listed in his official biography as one of the most important moments of his career.

From the very beginning, Prague Spring has had the profile of the most important cultural events of post-war Czechoslovakia (the patron of the first annual festival was the President of Czechoslovakia, Dr. Edvard Beneš), and the festival has maintained that standing in the Czech Republic to this day. Prague Spring is a truly international event, and an appearance there has always been and still is regarded as a prestigious event by the greatest artists of the day. During the seventy years of its existence, the festival has welcomed to its stages nearly all of the most important Czech and foreign performers, orchestras and other musical ensembles.

The festival has witnessed tempestuous times of both bad and good fortune in modern Czech history. The festival’s name inspired the term “Prague Spring” used in political science to characterize the attempts at liberalization in Czechoslovakia climaxing with the events of 1968. In spite of all of the vicissitudes of Czech and European history, the festival has always managed to maintain its high artistic standards, comparable with the world’s top festivals, combining the best of the Czech music scene with elite musicians from around the world.

With the return to democracy after 1989, Prague Spring has modernized its management, broadened its programming, established its own firm relations abroad, and become a member in good standing of international and national professional associations. The festival has become a member of the European Festivals Association (EFA) and of the International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA). In 1996 Prague Spring was involved in the founding of the Czech Association of Music Festivals.

Prague Spring confirmed its ambitions by acquiring its own headquarters. In 2000 the festival took another important step towards independence by its transformation into a public benefit corporation founded by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic with the assistance of the City of Prague, thereby reinforcing its independence and its character as a public institution. The festival has definitively taken the path of multiple source funding from public, private, and corporate resources and from its own commercial activities.

For full information, visit the Festival’s website.

Latest reviewsSee more...

Prague Spring finishes with a stirring farewell

Krzysztof Penderecki © Prague Spring | Ivan Malý
Krzysztof Penderecki leads a masterful performance and powerful tribute to Jiří Bělohlávek.
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Prague Spring plugs in and lights up

Musico-Technical Inventions © Prague Spring | Petra Hajská
An electronic extravaganza in a resonant setting adds another dimension to the venerable festival.
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Keeping modern music alive at Prague Spring

Dennis Russell Davies © Prague Spring | Petra Hajská
With expert assistance from Dennis Russell Davies, the overlooked Brno Philharmonic makes the most of a contemporary cantata.
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At Prague Spring, a legacy comes home

Peter Oundjian, Maxim Vengerov and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra © Prague Spring | Petra Hajská
A superstar soloist helps the Toronto Symphony Orchestra offer a telling tribute to Czech conductor Karel Ančerl.
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A crashing disappointment to open Prague Spring

The Vienna Philharmonic plays Má vlast © Ivan Malý
Big names brought a big sound but not much else to the traditional performance of Smetana's Má vlast.
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Preview: the 2017 Prague Spring Festival

Rudolfinum at sunset © David Karlin
The 2017 Prague Spring Festival spans time and genre, with a multiplicity of top orchestral and chamber performers, both Czech and international.