Prague Spring Once Again!

Posted By on May 26, 2009

Back in May of 1987, I found myself in the finals of the horn division of the Prague Spring International Music Competition. It had been a grueling week up until then. I did not have the option of bringing my own pianist, so I was obligated to use the staff accompanist. I had a one-hour rehearsal with Mrs. Ludmilla Cermakova on the Telemann Concerto and the mandatory Czech piece. And then we went into the room and played our tails off. To my sincere surprise I was advanced to the next round. I found out later I had placed first in this round! Mrs. Cermakova and I then had two days to prepare for the next round. I had chosen to play the Weber Concertino and another Czech work, the name of which I have unfortunately forgotten. I seem to remember that I played the Bujonovsky Sonata as my work in the unaccompanied work category. Once again, we were advanced to the next and final round. Ludmilla (I now called her Lida) had about one day to learn the Glière Concerto. And we put in the appropriate hours necessary to accomplish this. I was also obligated to play the Strauss 2nd Horn Concerto in the final round. Both concerti one after the other! The great horn class pianist Iva Navratova was appointed official expert on this challenging part and so I was granted all of about 30 minutes to have a run through with her. But no matter, as all parties concerned came through with flying colors and I won the 3rd Prize and Bronze Medal.

That was in 1987. I have, of course, been back to Prague many times since then. It is without a doubt one of the greatest cities of Europe. And it is indispensable in the international touring arena of professional musicians. But this past trip, right on the heels of the OPL tour to Italy, was the first time since my success at the 1987 competition that I have performed again at the Prague Spring Music Festival. So it was rather nostalgic really. Whereas I have played almost exclusively in the great Rudofinum throughout the years, I was playing this time in the famous Smetana Hall. The concert was packed. And the beer at the end of the evening in the Smetana Hall beer cellar was spectacular!

Two days later I was scheduled to perform in Luxembourg with the American Horn Quartet as part of the on-going 20th Anniversary European Tour.

After note: Lida Cermakova (and her lovely family) and I developed a long lasting musical and friendly relationship after that. We have played together many times since then. And I still run into Iva Navratova at various horn functions around the globe. Both are great ladies and great pianists!

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