Stamp of the Month: August 2021

Rafael Kubelik

The Czech conductor and composer Jeroným Rafael Kubelík was born on June 29, 1914 at the Bohemian Castle of Horskyfeld in Býchory. He died on August 11, 1996 in Kastanienbaum in the Swiss canton of Lucerne. August 2021 will mark the 25th anniversary of his death.
As the son of the violinist Jan Kubelík, Rafael Kubelik’s musical talent was encouraged at an early age. He studied violin, conducting and composition at the Prague Conservatory and first appeared as a conductor in 1934. From 1936 to 1939 he conducted the concerts of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague.

Czech Republic 27.5.1998
From 1939 to 1941 he was chief conductor of the National Theater in Brno and, in 1941, succeeded Václav Talich as chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. In 1946 he conducted the opening concert of the first “Prague Spring” festival. After the Communists came to power, he left Czechoslovakia in 1948. 1950 to 1953 he was conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and 1955 to 1958 musical director of the Covent Garden Opera in London. After a few concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik was chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1979, with whom he toured numerous times.
Kubelík was primarily regarded as a specialist in the works of Czech composers and set standards with his interpretations of the works of Dvořák and Janáček. He also stood up for the work of Gustav Mahler and began in the 1960s as the first with a complete recording of Mahler’s symphonies. In 1984 he retired from conducting, but conducted Bedřich Smetana’s symphonic poem “My Fatherland” again at the opening concert of the Prague Spring in 1990 at the request of the Czech President Václav Havel.
As a composer, Rafael Kubelik is assigned to neo-romanticism. He created a mass, stabat mater, 3 Requiem settings, 5 operas, 3 symphonies and a few other orchestral works. In addition, violin and cello concerts, chamber music and a number of songs.

The video shows Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Smetana’s “My Fatherland” (Ma vlast), recorded on May 3rd and 4th, 1984 in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residence.