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A Festival of Music in Prague - A unique experience from Martin Randall Travel

Ten private concerts of music from the Czech lands in magnificent and appropriate historic buildings.

Music from Renaissance to 20th century, with plenty of Baroque, and Smetana and Dvořák well represented.

Musicians of the highest calibre, from the Czech Republic and Britain.

Professor Jan Smaczny gives talks on the music, and Professor Tim Blanning on history.

Choose from a range of 4-star and 5-star hotels in the centre of the city.

Free time to explore Prague, one of the most picturesque cities of Europe, and optional walks with specialists.

13 - 19 Jun 2018 £2,890 Book this tour

  • Prague, Charles Bridge, Lesser Town and Castle. Lithograph c.1860.
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Overview

 

First, the music: ten concerts, some of the region’s finest players, composers from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries – nearly all Czech. The range and brilliance of Bohemian music through the ages will come to many as a revelation and will be one of the more thrilling aspects of this festival.

Next, the setting: some of the finest halls and churches in Prague, many contemporary with the music to be heard in them. The juxtaposition makes it as much a festival of architecture as of music, with each art enhancing and complementing the other.

And then there is the city: the most enchanting, heart-stoppingly beautiful place in Central Europe (some say the world). Impossibly picturesque vistas with magnificent Baroque palaces jostling with art nouveau shop fronts, soaring Gothic churches, sleek modernist masterpieces, secretive alleys, stepped streets and glorious squares.

A festival of music, but also much more. Each ingredient feeds into a whole much greater than the sum of the parts. The concerts are planned to balance and illuminate each other, talks and lectures inform and stimulate, guided walks and excursions enlarge the understanding of Bohemian history and art.

Receptions and dinners draw the audience of c. 200 together so that the event comes to resemble an extended house party rather than a bare sequence of concerts.

Admission to all but one of the concerts is limited to those who take a package which includes all ten concerts, hotels, flights, coaches, meals and talks. The intimate size of many of the venues leads to an informality and intimacy of musical communication which engenders a rare intensity of artistic experience – appreciated by the musicians as much as by the audience.

If you are uneasy with group arrangements, just turn up to the concerts – there is no obligation to participate further. There will be, however, the option of having all dinners included and a range of guided walks and excursions from which to choose.

The Programme

Quartets and a Quintet: Myslivecek, Koželuch, Dvorák
The Wihan Quartet

Brevnov Monastery, Theresa Hall

Josef Mysliveček and Leopold Koželuch, both well known to Mozart, were among the most popular late eighteenth- century composers in Italy and Vienna respectively. Both composers’ instrumental music is unfailingly captivating combining thematic elegance with a sophisticated use of instruments. Composed during his first summer in the United States, Dvořák’s Op.97 string quintet shares the captivating spontaneity of the ‘American Quartet’ and easily matches its ravishing melodies and rhythmic excitement.

The Wihan Quartet has been described by International Record Review as ‘one of the best quartets in the world today.’ The Quartet celebrated 30 years since its formation in 2015 and over the years it has developed an outstanding reputation for the interpretation of its native Czech heritage, and of the many Classical, Romantic and modern masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire.

Located in the outskirts of Prague, Břevnovský Klášter (Břevnov Monastery) was one of the oldest and richest Benedictine monasteries in Bohemia. Most of the buildings date to the 1720s and are the work of the leading Baroque architect of the time, Kristof Dienzenhofer. Still a functioning monastery, the interiors are not generally accessible, though the recently restored Theresa Hall is occasionally used for concerts.

Renaissance Polyphony: Bohemians and Byrd
The Sixteen | Harry Christophers conductor

Church of Our Lady Before Týn

The reign of Rudolf II as Holy Roman Emperor may have been politically disastrous, but it was one of the most culturally spectacular of the age. Not only did Rudolf attract artists, philosophers, astrologists and alchemists to Prague, some of the finest composers of the day worked at his court, among them Philippe de Monte and Jakob Handl. The Sixteen, unrivalled in this repertoire, perform key works by de Monte and Handl alongside music by their great English contemporary, William Byrd. In addition there is the chance to hear the fascinating and complex polyphony of the Bohemian noble Kryštof Harant who joined the Protestant cause at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 and as a result lost his head a year later.

The Sixteen is recognised as one of the world’s greatest ensembles and a total commitment to the music it performs is its greatest distinction. Drawn from the passions of founder and conductor Harry Christophers are a special reputation for performing early English polyphony, bringing fresh insights into Baroque and early Classical music and a diversity of 20th- and 21st-century music.

Prague has no more distinctive sight than the cluster of spires and spirelets and gilded baubles which rise above the Old Town Square. These belong to Our Lady before Týn, one of the great Gothic churches of Prague, though its lofty whitewashed interior is enlivened with black and gold Baroque altarpieces. It became a leading Hussite (Protestant) church until the victory of the Catholics in 1620.

 

Songs by Dvorák
Lucie Špicková
mezzo-soprano| Lada Valešová piano

Schebek Palace

Song was key in the development of Czech music. From the start of his career Dvořák was a song composer producing cycles such as the Gypsy Songs and the moving Biblical Songs that have enchanted audiences all over the world. This recital places one of Dvořák’s favourite sets of songs alongside a full range of lyrical gems from Smetana to Martinů.

Anglo-Czech mezzo-soprano Lucie Špičková was educated at the Purcell School of Music, Oriel College, Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music, London. A keen recitalist and oratorio singer, Lucie has performed at Wigmore Hall and other prestigious venues across Europe. On the operatic platform, she has appeared regularly with the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. Future engagements include Flosshilde (Das Rheingold) with the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski.

Born in Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Lada Valešová studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the inspirational guidance of James Gibb. She has featured on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, BBC 3 Breakfast, Classic FM, Radio New Zealand, Czech Radio Vltava and RTÉ Radio 1 Arts Show, Ireland. Lada is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.

Behind a formidable Renaissance Revival sandstone facade, in a dark and otherwise undistinguished side street, lies one of Prague’s hidden treasures. The mansion commissioned by railway magnate Jan Schebek in 1870 contains sumptuous interiors of marble, frescoes and fine joinery – which are still not generally accessible. The drawing room can seat only half the audience so the recital is repeated.

 

Zelenka’s Missa Omnium Sanctorum
Collegium 1704 | Václav Luks conductor

Church of St James the Greater

Born in rural Bohemia, Jan Dismas Zelenka spent most of his working life at the catholic court of Dresden. In his day, his music, characterized by vivacity, melodic charm and rich textures, was much admired by J.S. Bach and Telemann. His Missa Omnium Sanctorum (Mass of All Saints) is a late work in which attractive solo numbers are set beside monumental choruses.

Collegium 1704 was founded by harpsichordist and conductor Václav Luks in 2005. The ensemble is well-known for their performances of the key pieces of Baroque repertoire, and for promoting works of Czech masters such as Jan Dismas Zelenka and Josef Mysliveček. The ensemble has collaborated with the likes of Magdalena Kožená, Vivica Genaux and Bejun Mehta, and has been nominated for The International Opera Awards and The Gramophone Awards.

Many churches in Prague are Gothic in architecture but Baroque in decoration, encrustation with altars and elaborate furnishings being standard after the triumph of Catholicism in 1620. St James stands out as the most magnificent of these hybrids, second only to the cathedral in length and surpassed only by St Nicholas Lesser Town (where concerts are no longer permitted) for richness of Baroquery.

 

String Quartets: Janácek, Smetana, Dvorák
Bennewitz Quartet

Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia

The highly personal nature of the Czech string quartet in the late Romantic era and early twentieth century contributes a rich strand to the chamber repertoire. The tradition goes back to Smetana’s highly autobiographical quartet, From My Life, which charts the highs of his career and the tragedy of deafness, and carries through to the passionate, almost operatic involvement found in Janáček’s two string quartets composed when he was deeply in love with a woman nearly forty years his junior. The concert concludes with Dvořák’s greatest quartet, op.106, which includes his most deeply-felt slow movement and a gloriously joyful finale.

The Bennewitz Quartet was established in 1998. It entered the international music scene after winning two major String Quartet competitions, in Ósaka in 2005 and Reggio Emilia in 2008. As a recent resident ensemble of the Czech Philharmonic, the Quartet actively promotes Czech repertoire worldwide. This current season will bring them to Canada, Japan, Israel, the United States and to various European stages.

Founded in 1233, the Convent of St Agnes is one of the most intriguing and attractive mediaeval buildings in Prague. Accommodating two Franciscan communities, nuns and friars, there is a complex arrangement of adjacent chapels, one of which, roofless since dissolution in 1792, was converted in the 1980s into a concert hall. Also housed in the complex is one of the finest collections of Gothic painting in the world.

 

Mozart’s Czech Mates
Classical Opera – The Mozartists | Ian Page director| Ana Maria Labin soprano

Žofín Palace

This programme begins and ends with amazingly vital and passionate symphonies by Vaňhal and Koželůh – why aren’t they standard repertoire? – and in between presents dazzling arias by Gluck, Mysliveček, Jiří Benda and Mozart himself.

Mozart’s music had some of its most enthusiastic audiences in Prague, and the composer visited the city five times in the last five years of his life. But he didn’t have to travel to Bohemia to meet highly-talented performers and composers from the kingdom: he constantly came across them wherever he went in Europe, even when at home in Salzburg. Prague had lost its royal court to Vienna, so many local musicians were forced to seek employment elsewhere.

When as a boy Mozart was trying to make his name as an opera composer in Italy, he was befriended by one of the dominant operatic figures of the day, Josef Mysliveček. Known simply as ‘Il Boemo’, the brilliance and melodious qualities of Mysliveček’s music captivated Italian audiences. In Germany, Mozart was bowled over by the melodramas of Jiří Benda with their bold combination of spoken drama and evocative music. In Vienna, he found Czech composers had a hold over many of the musical establishments of the Empire’s capital. Christoph Willibald Gluck was one of the most venerable figures of the day, but Leopold Koželůh and Jan Křtitel Vaňhal were among the most prominent in the city’s musical life.

Established in 1997, Classical Opera – or The Mozartists, as they appear when the programme is not a full opera – is one of the leading exponents of the music of Mozart and his contemporaries. Under the direction of founder and conductor Ian Page, they regularly present benchmark performances of operas and orchestral works in some of London’s most prestigious venues and, increasingly, abroad. They attract extensive critical and public acclaim for the high quality of their performances on CD and in the concert hall, for intelligent and imaginative programming, and for their ability to discover and nurture world-class young singers.

Sited on an island in the River Vltava, Palac Žofín (Žofín Palace) opened in 1837 as a cultural and entertainment centre and concert hall, a role which it continues to this day. Refurbished in the 1880s, it is one of the most enjoyable of Prague’s Renaissance Revival buildings, though few visitors get to see it. Antonín Dvořák held his first concert here in 1878 and Berlioz, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Wagner made appearances here.

 

Music from Terezín
Bennewitz Quartet

Spanish Synagogue

Often characterized as ‘the lost generation’ of Terezín, the composers who spent time in this so-called ‘Paradise ghetto’ and died in Auschwitz were among the most talented Czechoslovak musicians of the inter-war years. Haas studied with Janáček and Ullmann with Schoenberg, and while both composers’ music show aspects of modish modernism, it is tempered by abundant humanity occasionally inflected with Czech folksong. Hans Krása was perhaps the most fascinating of the Terezín composers; a true ‘Bohemian’, his music manages to be both provocative and winning.

Although Schulhoff was not among the Terezín composers, he was a victim of Nazism, dying in the Wülzburg concentration camp. A child prodigy, whose abilities impressed no less an authority than Dvořák, Schulhoff’s music, with influences ranging from Debussy to Janáček, Czech folksong to jazz, is always captivating.

The Spanish Synagogue, dating to 1868, derives its epithet from its interior decoration, whose source was the Alhambra in Granada. Elaborate floral and geometrical motifs, multi-coloured and gilded, flat and low relief, cover practically every surface, and the glazing contributes to the effect of gently glowing magnificence which has been further enhanced by recent restoration.

 

Czech High Baroque: Jiránek, Reichenauer, Brentner
Collegium Marianum | Jana Semerádová director

Mirror Chapel, Klementinum

This concert is a celebration of the Czech ‘High Baroque’ featuring three composers whose work is an intoxicating mix of instrumental virtuosity and enchanting melody. All three were clearly influenced by Vivaldi and Jiránek almost certainly studied with him in Venice. In all these works, the fluency of the Italian master’s style is apparent, but often with a Czech twist, particularly in the case of Brentner; not only popular in Prague, his music, thanks to Jesuit missionaries, reached as far as South America.

The Prague ensemble Collegium Marianum, under the direction of leader Jana Semerádová focuses on presenting composers who were born or were active in Central Europe in the Baroque era. The ensemble has collaborated with renowned European conductors, soloists, directors and choreographers and has also produced some highly original projects, such as Cavalli’s opera Calisto or Handel’s Acis and Galatea staged with marionettes. It regularly performs at music festivals and has made seven recordings.

The Chapel of the Annunciation is one of several churches embedded within the Klementinum, the rambling complex at the heart of the Old Town built by Jesuits and now occupied by the Charles University. Dating to the 1720s, the interior is deliciously decorated with stucco and scagliola in shades of pink and studded with little mirrors.

 

Chamber Music: Janácek, Smetana, Dvorák
Wihan Quartet | Martin Kasík piano

Obecní dum (Municipal House), Sladkovský Hall

For their second appearance at this festival, the Wihan Quartet present a programme of classics of the Czech chamber repertoire. Janáček’s intense evocation of Tolstoy’s dramatic novella The Kreutzer Sonata and Smetana’s concentrated and moving second string quartet are balanced by Dvořák’s most radiant chamber work, the piano quintet in A major.

The winner of several domestic and international contests, and the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, Martin Kasík has worked regularly with the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, he was appointed President of the Chopin Festival in Mariánské Lázně and he also teaches at the Prague Conservatory and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Obecní dům is literally Municipal House, but Assembly Rooms would be a more informative translation as it consists of a collection of halls for meetings, concerts and leisure. The Sladkovský Hall is one of the most beautiful. Begun in 1905, Obecní dům is one of the greatest manifestations of Art Nouveau arts in Europe, and many Czech designers and artists worked on it. It was finally completed in 1914.

 

Smetana’s ‘My Country’
Prague Symphony Orchestra

Obecní dum (Municipal House), Smetana Hall

The six symphonic poems of Smetana’s Má vlast (My Country) comprise a cornerstone of the Czech orchestral repertoire. Opening with a prophecy of the greatness and tragedy of the Czech nation in Vyšehrad, the castle set high above the river Vltava, it concludes with the ultimate triumph of the Czech nation represented by Blaník, the mountain in south Bohemia from which the warriors of Czech history slumber waiting to ride forth to defend the nation in its time of greatest need. Set between the mythic sweep of Vyšehrad and Blaník is music of stirring passion in Šárka, meltingly beautiful evocations of the Czech countryside in Vltava and From Bohemia’s Wood and Fields, and abundant gaiety in the dance sections of this profound celebration of all that is Czech.

The Prague Symphony Orchestra was founded in the autumn of 1934 by the conductor Rudolf Pekárek. He defined the new ensemble’s fields of activity with the words Film-Opera-Koncert, and as such the abbreviation FOK became part of the orchestra’s title. They achieved fame by recording music for the majority of Czech films in the 1930s and performing regularly in live broadcasts on the Czechoslovak Radio. The orchestra has performed in nearly every country in Europe as well as in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, the USA, South America and the Middle East.

We shall be privileged to hear Má vlast played in the hall in the Obecní dům which is dedicated to Bedřich Smetana. Dozens of designers, sculptors and painters contributed to this building, which is infused with the spirit of national revival as much as the piece itself. Ladislav Šaloun, the leading Art Nouveau sculptor of the Czech lands, is the author of personifications of scenes which inspired the music. Given the large capacity of this hall (1200), the audience will be augmented by selling tickets locally.

Image of Jan Smaczny

Professor Jan Smaczny

Hamilton Harty Chair of Music at Queen’s University, Belfast, and an authority on Czech music. An author, broadcaster and journalist, he has published books on the Prague Provisional Theatre, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, Music in 19th-century Ireland and Bach’s B-minor Mass. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, has studied at the Charles University in Prague and has worked extensively in university education.

Image of Tim Blanning

Professor Tim Blanning

Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Sidney Sussex College and Fellow of the British Academy. Among his books are The Culture of Power & the Power of Culture, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648–1815, and The Triumph of Music in the Modern World. His most recent is Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, awarded the British Academy Medal 2016.

The festival package

Access to all but one of the concerts is exclusive to those who take the festival package, the price for which includes:
Ten concerts in outstanding historic buildings.
Talks by experts on the music and history of Bohemia.
Hotel accommodation for six nights.
Three dinners with drinks, all breakfasts, interval drinks.
Flights between Heathrow and Prague (you may opt out of these).
Coach travel for airport transfers and a couple of concerts.
All tips, taxes and obligatory charges.
A team of festival staff, British and Czech, to facilitate the smooth running of the event.
A comprehensive programme book.

 

Travelling to and from Prague

Flights from London Heathrow to Prague are included in the price of the festival. You can choose to join one of these or make your own flight arrangements (in which case there is a reduction in the price – see below).

Arrive 12th June (a day early), leave 19th

Option 1
12th June: depart Heathrow 09.50, arrive Prague 12.55 (BA 862).
19th June: depart Prague 11.20, arrive Heathrow 12.30 (BA 855).

Option 2
12th June: depart Heathrow 13.25, arrive Prague 16.30 (BA 860).
19th June: depart Prague 13.40, arrive Heathrow 14.50 (BA 863).

Arrive 13th June, leave 19th

Option 3
13th June: depart Heathrow 09.50, arrive Prague 12.55 (BA 862).
19th June: depart Prague 11.20, arrive Heathrow 12.30 (BA 855).

Option 4
13th June: depart Heathrow 13.25, arrive Prague 16.30 (BA 860).
19th June: depart Prague 13.40, arrive Heathrow 14.50 (BA 863).

We are happy to quote for connecting flights from regional airports. Please request this on the booking form.

The no-flights option

There is a reduction of £210 for the package without flights.
Please tick Option 5: no flights on the booking form.

Should you decide to join the festival at Prague Airport at a time which coincides with one of our flight arrivals, you are welcome to join a coach transfer to your hotel. Otherwise you would have to make your own way to your hotel.

Easyjet

Easyjet flies from London Gatwick to Prague. As we are not able to make a group booking with them, we suggest that you choose the ‘No flights’ option and make the booking yourself. We will provide coach transfers between the airport and the following flights:

13th June: depart Gatwick 08.55, arrive Prague 11.55 (EZY 8993).

19th June: depart Prague 12.25, arrive Gatwick 13.35 (EZY 8994).

Arrive a day early

Please contact us if you would like to arrive in Prague a day before the festival starts (12th June). The price will depend on your chosen hotel and room category and includes a choice of two flights from London Heathrow with British Airways, and a transfer to your hotel.

 

Accommodation & Prices

We have selected six hotels for this festival. All are 4- or 5-star. The hotel is the sole determinant of the different prices for the festival package.

Location is an important consideration: all are within the confines of the mediaeval city, five in the Old Town and one in the Lesser Town across the river. All are within walking distance of most of the concerts and other festival events.

Rooms vary. As is inevitable in historic buildings, rooms vary in size and outlook.

Suites and rooms with views. The Four Seasons has suites and rooms with views of the river Vltava, and the Aria Hotel has suites and rooms with views of the Vrtba gardens. All are subject to availability at the time of booking. Prices are either given on the next two pages or are available on request.

Star ratings. Official local classifications are cited here though, as ever, there is no international correlation of criteria for star ratings so don’t attach too much importance to them.

The prices given are all per person.

There is a reduction of £210 if you choose not to take one of the festival flights.

Barcelò Old Town

Barcelò Old Town Hotel is within a completely renovated 17th-century building, excellently situated on Celetná Street in the Old Town. Rooms and public spaces are light and modern, and there is air-conditioning and wireless internet throughout the hotel. Rooms are equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer and safe, and most rooms have a bath with shower attachment (some have a shower only). Although its striking stylishness is not for everybody, Barcelò Old Town is comfortable and has the benefit of its location. Locally classified as 4-star.

Prices, per person:

Deluxe double or twin: £2,890
Deluxe double for single use: £3,350
Junior Suite double or twin: £2,960

 

Hotel K+K Central

Hotel K+K Central is a recently rebuilt hotel installed in an enchanting 1902 building. Situated in a quiet street just outside the Old Town a few hundred yards from Obecní dům. Pleasingly understated décor and well-equipped rooms; all have air-conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, safe and hairdryer. There is a wellness centre, gym, bar and bistro. Public areas have been tastefully refurbished and retain some of the original Art Nouveau features. Wireless internet is available throughout the hotel. Locally classified as 4-star.

Prices, per person:

Classic double or twin: £2,940
Classic double for single use: £3,330
Executive double or twin: £3,180

 

Grand Hotel Bohemia

Excellently located in the Old Town beside Obecní dům, the Grand Bohemia was built in 1923 and retains some original features. Public areas are elegant but unfussy, and include a cosy bar and a good restaurant. Bedrooms in contrast are modern, with pleasantly understated decor and comfortable furnishings. All are fully air-conditioned and have a minibar and safe, and all bathrooms have a bath with a shower fitment and a hairdryer. Wireless internet is available free of charge in all rooms. Locally classified as 5-star.

Prices, per person:

Superior double or twin: £3,470
Superior double for sole use: £3,990
Executive double or twin: £3,580
Junior Suite double or twin: £3,940

 

Hotel Paris

Built in 1904 opposite its contemporary the Obecní dům, Hotel Paris is a celebrated example of Bohemian Art Nouveau, outside and in, especially the restaurant and café­. Its location in the Old Town is excellent. The bedrooms are comfortable and are equipped with a minibar, safe, free wi-fi and air-conditioning. Bathrooms have a hairdryer and a bath with a shower fitment. Locally classified as 5-star.

Prices, per person:

Deluxe double or twin: £3,470
Deluxe double for single use: £3,990
Executive double or twin: £3,670
Junior Suite double or twin: £3,940

 

Aria Hotel

The only hotel located in the Malá Strana (Lesser Town), perhaps the loveliest of the mediaeval districts in Prague. The 5-star Aria is a luxurious boutique hotel following a music theme, with rooms and suites equipped with an iPad, air-conditioning, safe and minibar, and bathrooms with both bathtubs and showers. There is a music library and a resident musicologist at guests’ disposal, and complimentary afternoon tea is served every day. The hotel has a private entrance to the Vrtba Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and there is also a restaurant on the rooftop terrace with views across Prague. Junior Suites have a view of the winter garden, and the Dvořák and Beethoven Suites have a view of the Vrtba garden.

Prices, per person:

Deluxe double or twin: £3,730
Deluxe double for sole use: £4,500
Junior Suite: £3,810
Dvořák Suite: £4,690
Beethoven Suite: £5,240

 

The Four Seasons Hotel

Probably the most luxurious hotel in the city, the 5-star Four Seasons occupies a group of historic buildings wonderfully located on the river Vltava with views of the Charles Bridge and across to Prague Castle. The sequence of sophisticated common areas includes an excellent restaurant and bar. The rooms, recently refurbished, are very spacious (35m2 upwards) and come with all the comforts you would expect from a hotel of this category (marble bathroom, bathrobes, designer toiletries, complimentary newspapers, safe, hairdryer, air-conditioning, wifi, etc.). A newly opened wellness centre overlooks the river.   

Prices, per person:

Superior double or twin: £4,420
Superior double for single use: £5,630
Premier River View double or twin: £5,990

 

Please contact us if you would like to arrive in Prague a day before the festival starts. The price will depend on your chosen hotel and room category, and includes a choice of two flights from London Heathrow, and a transfer to your hotel.

There is also the option of joining a guided walk of Prague on the morning of Day 1 of the festival. Details will be sent to participants in due course.

 

Optional extras

In addition, there are extra services which can be booked:

The option of arriving a day early. 

A package of an extra two or three dinners. Price £140 or £210 per person including wine and gratuity – please request on the booking form.

Pre-festival tours. There are two to choose from: Treasures of Moravia and Walking in Southern Bohemia. 

A range of visits and short walks led by art historians and appropriate experts.

 

Optional walks and visits

Participants will be able to choose from a selection of walks and visits, all of which will be led by one of our lecturers with a deep knowledge of the city. Full information about these will be sent to all those booked at a later stage. Lecturers already confirmed include:

Dr Jana Gajdošová. Art historian with a particular interest in the Middle Ages in Central Europe. Slovakian by birth, she studied in the USA and Britain – the Courtauld Institute of Art and Birkbeck College, both University of London. Her PhD is on the Charles Bridge and the rebuilding of Prague in the 14th century. She has lectured at the University of Cambridge and at Christie’s Education and is working on her first book, Bridging Space and Time.

Dr Jarl Kremeier. Art historian specialising in 17th- to 19th-century architecture and decorative arts. He teaches Art History at the Berlin College of Acting and the Freie Universität, department of continuing education. He studied at the Universities of Würzburg, Berlin and London (Courtauld Institute) and is author of a book on the Würzburg Residenz and of articles on Baroque architecture and architectural theory.

 

The concerts

Exclusive access. The concerts are private, being planned, promoted and administered by Martin Randall Travel exclusively for an audience of no more than 200 who have taken the full festival package. (Tickets to the final orchestral concert will also be sold locally to improve the acoustics and appearance of the Smetana Hall).

Seating. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want. 

Comfort. Seats in some venues are church pews; you may want to consider bringing a cushion.

Concert times. One of the venues is too small to accommodate all participants so this concert is repeated.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues close for repair, airlines alter schedules: there are many possible unpredictable circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.

 

Fitness

We must stress that it is essential to cope with the walking and stair-climbing required to get to the concerts and other events. You should be able to walk unaided for at least thirty minutes. Prague streets are cobbled or roughly paved and some pavements narrow. Festival staff will not have the resources to assist individuals with walking difficulties.

We ask that prospective participants assess their fitness by trying some simple exercises described here:

1. Chair stands. Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least 8 times in 30 seconds.

2. Step test. Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least 60 times in 2 minutes.

3. Agility test. Place an object 3 yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down.You should be able to do this in under 7 seconds.

 

For the independent traveller or a group tour?

The answer is both.
It’s up to you to choose the degree of independence  you want.

If you are uneasy about travelling as part of a group, you can avoid the optional extras and participate in the festival merely by turning up to the concerts (we tell you where and when and how to get there). The rest of the time is your own.

But if you prefer to have some guidance and assistance and opportunity for social interaction you can have group dinners every evening, sign up for some art-historical walks and visits and take advantage of any assistance offered for getting to the venues.

Though there will be up to 200 participants, you will frequently find yourself in much smaller units. Participants are spread through six hotels, and numbers at each restaurant and on the optional walks and visits are limited. Special attention will be paid by festival staff to participants travelling on their own.

 

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonials from clients on previous music festivals:

‘Many musical memories that will last forever. Stunning performances.’

'When I think of all the planning that must have gone into this I am amazed; delighted with the thought shown in every detail.’ 

'Absolutely wonderful. Lovely settings. The musicians were top-notch.’