born on 8/6/1923
died on 17/10/1988
The Vlach Quartet (Czech: Vlachovo kvarteto) is the name of two consecutive classical string quartet musical ensembles, based in Prague, which are linked by family tradition (father and daughter) in the Vlach family. The original Vlach Quartet was founded in 1949 and wound up in 1975. In 1982 the New Vlach Quartet (Nové Vlachovo kvarteto) was founded with guidance from the original founder, and came to be known as the Vlach Quartet of Prague (Vlachovo kvarteto Praha). It is still active as a highly-esteemed musical ensemble.
The personnel of the original Vlach Quartet in the period 1958-1972 were:
Vlach Quartet of Prague
Origins and activities
Josef Vlach was a violinist, conductor and teacher in Prague. He shared the principal violin desk of the Czech Chamber Orchestra (as it existed under Václav Talich), with Jiri Novak, leader of the Smetana Quartet. In 1949 he founded the Vlach Quartet with members of the Orchestra. Over the next 25 years they made a significant contribution in the interpretation of classical and Czech literature for string quartet, both in concerts and in recording, for which they had a contract with Supraphon Records. The original quartet was internationally admired for its authentic, powerful and rhythmically solid performances. In 1957 Josef Vlach also re-formed the Czech Chamber Orchestra.
The New Vlach Quartet was founded in 1982 by Jana Vlachová, the daughter of Josef Vlach. She had played in a string quartet from childhood under her father's guidance and won first prize in the Concertino Praga international competition at age 14. She graduated from studies with M. Hlounová at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, chose to concentrate on chamber music, and formed a duo with the Swedish cellist Mikael Ericsson in 1977. He had studied in Copenhagen, attended master-classes by G. Fallot and Gregor Piatigorsky, and studied in Prague with Josef Chuchro. He also has a recording career as a soloist. Karel Stadtherr, violinist, had performed with the Suk Chamber Orchestra (in contact with Josef Vlach) and was Konzertmeister of the Prague Chamber Orchestra Without Conductor. Petr Verner studied solo viola at the Prague Academy under L. Malý, Milan kampa and J. Pruka, and chamber music with Josef Vlach.
They received guidance and mentoring from Josef Vlach, imparting a strong interpretative tradition from the school of Talich. and underwent a course of training by the Melos Quartet (Stuttgart). They worked to expand the range of the repertoire of the earlier Quartet, both in international scope and in the time-frame represented. They began by winning the prize for best interpretation of a contemporary Czech work at the Czech String Quartet Competition in Kromí in 1983. Their performance and broadcasts focus both on the classics - Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and on to Bartók and Shostakovich - and on the distinctive Czech repertoire, works of Antonín Dvoák, Bedich Smetana, Leo Janáek, and Bohuslav Martin.
The Quartet gives concerts throughout Europe, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and Luxembourg. Many have been broadcast, for instance by the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Südwestrundfunk, Danmarks Radio and Radio France. Czech Television has broadcast documentaries on both the old and the new Vlach Quartets. They have toured in United States, where their opening concert in New York in July 2004 was very highly praised. They had a Residency in 1997 in the Japanese University town of Gifu and were broadcast by NHK, Japan's principal station. In 2000 they led courses in interpretation at the conservatory in Ingesund, Sweden.
The Quartet's main collaborations are with Maria Kliegel (cello), Jenö Jandó and Ivan Klánský (pianists), Eduard Brunner and Dieter Klöcker (clarinet) and Maximilian Mangold (guitar).
Awards and recordings
- The original Vlach Quartet recordings include Beethoven op. 131, op. 18 nos. 1 & 6, op. 59 no. 1.
- Best String Quartet among European competition, International String Quartet Competition in Portsmouth, England (1985)
- Czech Chamber Music Association prize (1991)
- Czech Music Fund prize for CD of string quartets by Smetana (From My Life) and Janáek (Intimate Letters)
- 1995, began a long-term project with Naxos records for complete chamber music of Antonín Dvoák. Highly commended.
- 2000 (October), a Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik for cpo recording of Esquisses Hébraïques: Clarinet Quintets on Jewish Themes, with Dieter Klöcker.
Notes and references
- The primary source for this article is the webpage of the Vlach Quartet of Prague, .
- Source: HMV recording of Dvoák Quartet no. 6 and Janáek no. 2 (ALP 1622), 1958: Supraphon recordings of Dvoák op. 106 (SUA 10172), Josef Suk quartet no. 2 op. 31 (SUA 10818), 1967, and Beethoven op. 18 nos. 1 & 6 (1 11 1106), 1972.
- Riley, Maurice W. (1991), "The Czechoslovakia Viola School", The History of the Viola, Volume II, Ann Arbor, Michigan: Braun-Brumfield
- Profile of Petr Verner, .
- Prague Heart of Europe website
- Zdenek Bruderhans, Article on Jií Tancibudek 1921-2004, Reeding Matter, June 2004, Vol 7 part 2, .
- Information throughout this section drawn from Quartet website.
- See also Waldmann site: .