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orch prague czech music

Ancerl, Karel, eminent Czech conductor; b. Tu-capy, April 11, 1908; d. Toronto, July 3, 1973. He studied at the Prague Cons. (1925–29) with Šourek (percussion) and with Kricka and A. Haba (composition); under Hába’s tutelage, he composed a Suite for Quarter Tone Piano (1928) and Music for String Orch. in quarter tones (1928–29); he also studied conducting with Scherchen in Strasbourg, serving as his assistant in Königsberg (1929–31), and with Talich in Prague (1933–34). In 1933 he became music director of the Prague Radio Orch. As a Jew, he was removed from his post after the Nazi occupation of his homeland in 1939, and in 1942 was deported to the Jewish ghetto camp in Theresienstadt, where he played chamber music as a violist and conducted a camp orch. On Sept. 13, 1944, he conducted the premiere of Pavel Haas’s Theresienstadt-composed Study for String Orch. In late 1944, Ancerl was transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where his entire family was put to death. After his liberation in 1945, he resumed his post with the Prague Radio Orch., and was co- founder of the 5 th of May Opera in Prague. In 1950 Ancerl became chief conductor of the Czech Phil, in Prague. In spite of political constraints under the Communist regime, he restored the orch. to world renown, leading it in distinguished tours of Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan. In 1966 he was made a People’s Artist by the Czech government. In mid-Aug. 1968 Ancerl was unexpectedly called to Tanglewood, Mass., to conduct the Boston Sym. Orch. as a last-minute replacement for an ailing Charles Munch, and thus was abroad when Soviet bloc troops invaded his homeland on Aug. 20-21. Anccerl refused to return to Czechoslovakia and gave up his post as chief conductor of the Czech Phil. In 1969 he became music director of the Toronto Sym., a post he retained until his death. During much of his Toronto tenure, he was plagued by ill health, due largely to lingering conditions resulting from his Nazi internment. He died at the age of 65. After the Czech Communist regime was swept from power by the Velvet Revolution in 1989, plans were made to return Anccerl’s remains to a free Czech Republic. On May 12, 1993, his remains were interred with appropriate ceremony at Prague’s Vyšehrad cemetery and a bust of the conductor by the sculptor Jan Kodet was dedicated in his memory. Anccerl was held in great esteem for his idiomatic interpretations of the music of his homeland. He also demonstrated remarkable insight into masterworks of the 20 th century.

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almost 3 years ago


Thankk you for this paper.
I would be veryu pleased to have any information about performances of the Music for string orchestra in quarter tones by Ancerl.

Thank you for your help.

Antoine Servetti