Conductor

Smetáček studied conducting at the Prague Conservatory (1928–30) with Professors Metod Doležil and Pavel Dědeček in addition to oboe playing and composition. His graduation concert took place on 25th June 1930. He performed Jaroslav Křička´s Scherzo Idyllique for Orchestra with the Prague Conservatory Students Orchestra.

He gained his first experience of conducting with the amateur Orchestra of Sokol Bubeneč for which his father Rudolf Smetáček was the artistic leader. Later he made a good use of his position as chorus master of the Prague „Hlahol“ when performing large vocal symphonic works, many of which he also recorded. During his time as oboist in the Czech Philharmonic he had closely observed the methods and approach of different conductors in preparation for his own conducting career. His orchestral oboe playing greatly helped to develop an understanding of the mentality of an orchestra and also of the importance to the final outcome of a conductor providing a clear vision and easy-to-follow gestures.

We have exact records of his conducting activities. There are 2,000 cards in Smetáčeks card files, one for each performance, and they have been transferred to a database that can be accessed on this Web site. It is possible to find any of his concerts by entering a few criteria: date, place, composer, work, orchestra, potentially the name of the choir or soloists. The names of other collaborating artists can be found in “OTHER INFORMATION” where we also quote some small notes written on the cards.

Further information about Smetáček´s activities as conductor can be found in the section DOCUMENTS, which contains transcriptions of some of his handwritten notes, e.g. an overview of orchestras or soloists he worked with, a list of concerts he conducted at the Prague Spring Festival etc.

The whole of Smetáček’s estate, including the aforementioned card files, programs, reviews, posters and correspondence, has been deposited in the Czech National Archives.

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