PRAGUE (AP) – Libor Pešek, a Czech classical conductor best known for leading the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for a decade, has died. He was 89 years old.
Pešek died on Sunday, said Jan Hasenöhrl, the conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, where Pešek was chief conductor until 2019.
Pešek worked with several national and foreign orchestras. He was a great supporter of the music of Czech composers, especially Josef Dvořák’s student and son-in-law Josef Suk. His recordings and concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic helped make Suk’s music known around the world.
“It happened mainly because it was the right time to present unknown pieces in Britain, even Czech pieces, and it was also still the right time to make some recordings,” he once said in an interview for Czech public radio.
Pešek was principal conductor at Liverpool in 1987–97, becoming conductor laureate afterwards. Under his charge, the Northern English Orchestra was called “the best Czech orchestra this side of Prague”.
He was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Prague in 1996.
Born on June 22, 1933 in Prague, Pešek studied conducting, piano, cello and trombone at the Academy of Music and Arts in Prague before embarking on an international conducting career spanning more than 50 years.
He conducted several orchestras in the Netherlands during the 1970s and conducted the Slovak Philharmonic and was resident conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1980s. Later he was principal guest conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
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