Oboist

In 1930 Smetáček graduated from the Prague Conservatory where he studied oboe with Prof. Ladislav Skuhrovský. In the 1930s he was a prominent solo oboist and chamber musician. In 1928 he established, together with his colleagues (Rudolf Hertl – flute, Vladimír Říha – clarinet, Otakar Procházka / from 1943 Emanuel Kaucký / from 1954 Josef Schwarz – horn and, at the beginning František Matějka / later Karel Bidlo – bassoon), the chamber ensemble Prague Wind Quintet (Pražské dechové kvinteto - PDK). He played with this ensemble from its first concert on 27th March 1929 till its last performance on 27th December 1953 more than 700 times. PDK became a leading chamber ensemble and in the first half of the 20th century occupied an important position on the Czech musical scene. As proof of this are the 95 premieres of works by their contemporaries; 23 dedicated to the PDK (see PDK premieres).

Most often Smetáček played for direct broadcasting of the Czechoslovak Radio, most of all with the PDK but also as a solo oboist or with other chamber ensembles. The Czech Radio archive preserves numerous recordings, some of them originally released on shellac discs by labels including ESTA, Ultraphon and Supraphon. Smetáček´s private record collection of these recordings was acquired by the Music Department of the City Library in Prague.

In 1930–1931 he was the deputy 1st oboist and then in 1931–1933 1st oboist of the Czech Philhamonic, with which he performed in 169 concerts and theatre performances (see CF records transcripts).

In the second half of 1931 he was a member of the orchestra of the National Theatre in Prague. Between 2nd May and 4th July 1931 he played 54 times in 27 different operas and ballets.

He last played oboe in 1974 with his sons’ jazz ensemble Traditional Jazz Studio, for which he even composed Malý valčík (Small Waltz) and Rag Time Echo and made arrangements of several other compositions.

The recordings of Smetáček’s performances as oboist (mainly with the PDK) have been transferred into the database, where they can be found in the same way as in the list of his appearances as conductor and in his discography. Although Smetáček’s records of his performances with the Prague Wind Quintet are accurate, we have only vague evidence of his solo appearances. For this area of his activities the only source of information is the diaries that he kept diligently from 1925 to 1945 and then from 1953 until his death in 1986. With their help we hope to complete the missing data item-by item. All documents from Smetáček’s estate concerning the activities of the PDK, such as the quintet diary, concert programs, posters, reviews and photographs, will be deposited in the Czech National Archives.

 

 

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