The Czech Republic, and its capital city in particular, inherits a great musical tradition. The most celebrated Czech composers are those of the nationalist movement, Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, and Leoš Janáček, together with the more recent composers Bohuslav Martinů and Josef Suk. However, the contribution of the Czech lands to western classical music can be traced to the Renaissance, at least. The Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also enjoyed his time in Prague, where the first performances of his operas Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito, and of his Symphony No. 38, the Prague Symphony, were held. It is a heritage of which the Czech people remain proud. The nation's great composers are celebrated with museums, concert halls, and other public monuments, and Prague is one of few cities whose musical culture is commemorated in souvenirs mass marketed to tourists.

Prague is home to three major opera houses, as well as two smaller auditoriums for opera and dance, and more than twenty concert venues of different sizes. The city is also home to a number of professional ensembles, including around a dozen orchestras and several smaller groups specialising in early, contemporary, chamber, and choral music. A series of internationally renowned music festivals take place in Prague throughout the year. The city is home to two conservatoires, as well as the Institute of Musicology at the Charles University.

In this article you will find information about: Opera and ballet; Orchestras; Early music; Choral music; Festivals; Concert venues; Popular concerts; Dress code; Useful websites.

Opera and ballet

National Theatre (Národní divadlo)

Ostrovní 1, 112 30 Praha 1

Web: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz

Email: dotazy@narodni-divadlo.cz

The National Theatre presents performances of opera and ballet, as well as drama. It also incorporates a further four venues in the city. Tickets for all five venues can be booked through the National Theatre, though in the case of the State Opera direct booking is recommended. Tickets are available for purchase from the beginning of the month five months before the date of the performance. For example, tickets for all performances in January are available for purchase from the beginning of August in the previous year.

Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo)

Ovocný trh 6, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz

Email: dotazy@narodni-divadlo.cz

The Estates Theatre presents performances of opera and ballet, as well as drama and occasional concerts.

State Opera (Státní opera)

Legerova 75, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.sop.cz

Email: informace@opera.cz

Incorporated into the National Theatre only at the beginning of 2012, the State Opera maintains a certain degree of independence. Only a proportion of tickets are available through the National Theatre, so booking through the State Opera directly is recommended. The State Opera presents a programme of opera and ballet.

Kolowrat Theatre (Divadlo Kolowrat)

Ovocný trh 6, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz

Email: dotazy@narodni-divadlo.cz

Principally a venue for drama, the Kolowrat Theatre also presents a small number of operas and ballets, generally new or less well known works.

New Stage (Nová scéna)

Národní 4, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.novascena.cz

Email: novascena@narodni-divadlo.cz

New Stage presents mostly Laterna magika (see below) and drama, with a small number of opera and ballet productions, again, generally new or less well known works.

Laterna magika

Národní 4, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.laterna.cz

Email: laterna1@narodni-divadlo.cz

Laterna magika presents contemporary dance with elements of circus and multimedia.

Karlín Musical Theatre (Hudební divadlo Karlín)

Křižíkova 10, 186 00 Praha 8

Web: http://www.hdk.cz

Email: objednavky@hdk.cz

Karlín Musical Theatre presents a mixture of musical theatre, operetta, concerts, dance, and drama.

Orchestras

Prague is home to nine principal professional orchestras, not including those performing primarily at the opera houses.

City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (Filharmonici města Prahy)

Web: http://www.coppo.org

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra specialises in film music and performs only a small number of concerts.

Czech Chamber Philharmonic (Česká komorní filharmonie)

Web: http://www.ckf-orchestra.com

Despite its many touring and recording commitments the Czech Chamber Philharmonic produces a number of concerts in Prague, including a series of chamber concerts held on Thursdays at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Czech National Symphony Orchestra (Český národní symfonický orchestr)

Web: http://www.cnso.cz

The Czech National Symphony Orchestra performs concerts at the Smetana Hall of the Obecní dům.

Czech Philharmonic (Česká filharmonie)

Web: http://www.ceskafilharmonie.cz

Named the 20th best orchestra in the world by Gramophone magazine in 2008, the Czech Philharmonic is the most distinguished in the country. Most concerts take place at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum.

Prague Chamber Orchestra (Pražský komorní orchestr)

Web: http://www.pko.cz

The Prague Chamber Orchestra, which performs without a conductor, produces concerts at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum.

Prague Philharmonia (Pražská komorní filharmonie)

Web: http://www.pkf.cz

The Prague Philharmonia performs at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, Salon Paukert, and Prague Conservatory, and occasionally at the Smetana Hall of the Obecní dům, Žofín Palace, and other venues.

Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (Pražský filharmonický orchestr) 

Web: http://www.praguephilharmonic.com

Primarily a recording orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic performs New Year concerts at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum.

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (SOČR: Symfonický orchestr Českého rozhlasu)

Web: http://www.rozhlas.cz/socr

SOČR performs concerts and public rehearsals at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum.

Prague Symphony Orchestra (Symfonický orchestr hlavního města Prahy FOK)

Web: http://www.fok.cz

The Prague Symphony Orchestra, the city's official orchestra, is known by the acronym FOK (Film-Opera-Koncert). It performs concerts at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, the Smetana Hall of the Obecní dům, and the Church of St Simon and St Jude (Kostel sv. Šimona a Judy).

Early music

Prague is home to several ensembles devoted to historically informed performance of early music.

Barocco Sempre Giovane

Web: http://www.barocco.cz

Barocco Sempre Giovane maintains a schedule of concerts throughout Europe, including several each year held at a number of venues in Prague and in other cities of the Czech Republic.

Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704

Web: http://www.collegium1704.com

The two Collegia, the baroque orchestra and vocal ensemble, give performances of orchestral and vocal music and of opera throughout Europe, including a number of performances at venues in Prague.

Collegium Marianum

Web: http://www.collegiummarianum.cz

Collegium Marianum produces performances of orchestral and choral music, as well as of opera, dance, and theatre, focusing in particular on the music of central Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The ensemble maintains a schedule of performances throughout Europe, and especially in central Europe, but also gives a number of concerts in Prague, including an annual series of baroque soirées held at venues in the city.

Ensemble Inégal

Web: http://www.inegal.cz

Acclaimed for its work promoting the music of neglected Czech composers, Ensemble Inégal has performed throughout Europe. Some concerts are given in Prague, but the group's website does not include a calendar of forthcoming performances.

Musica Florea

Web: http://www.musicaflorea.cz

Musica Florea maintains a busy performing schedule throughout the Czech Republic, with concerts also taking place occasionally in other countries of central Europe.

Choral music

Prague is home to many choirs. Further details for just a few of the best known are given here.

En Arché Chamber Choir (En Arché komorní sbor)

Web: http://www.enarche.cz 

Deriving its name from the opening words, in the original Greek, of the gospel according to John, the En Arché Chamber Choir performs mostly works from the repertoire of Christian choral music, focusing in particular on the baroque period and the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Concerts are given in churches in Prague.

Prague Chamber Choir (Pražský komorní sbor)

Web: http://www.prazskykomornisbor.cz

Founded in 1991, the Prague Chamber Choir has performed throughout Europe, as well as in Asia, Australia, and South America. The choir has worked with many of the most distinguished conductors, soloists, and orchestras in the world and has made around one hundred recordings. Its repertoire covers almost every kind of music written for the human voice from the Middle Ages down to the present day. When the choir is not on tour concerts are given at a number of venues in Prague.

Prague Philharmonic Choir (Pražský filharmonický sbor)

Web: http://www.filharmonickysbor.cz

The Prague Philharmonic Choir is a long established professional choir with an international reputation. The choir has a extensive repertoire of operatic, oratorio, liturgical, symphonic, and sacred and secular choral music. It gives concerts at all of the principal venues in Prague and at other venues in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe.

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis

Web: http://www.gregoriana.cz

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis performs some of the most distinguished interpretations of medieval sacred choral music in the world.

Festivals

Prague Spring International Music Festival (Mezinárodní hudební festival Pražské jaro)

Web: http://www.festival.cz

The Prague Spring runs in May and June at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum and the Smetana Hall of the Obecní dům, with additional concerts in February, March, and April at the Church of St Lawrence (kostel svatého Vavřince) and instrumental competitions during May at the Martinů Hall of the Lichtenštejnský palác and at the Národní dům, Vinohrady. The festival opens each year with a performance of Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast on 12 May, the anniversary of the composer’s death, at the hall named in his honour, where, appropriately, the independence of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed on 28 October 1918.

Prague Proms

Web: http://www.pragueproms.cz/

The Prague Proms run during June and July, concerts taking place at the Smetana Hall of the Obecní dům and occasionally at other venues such as the Czech Museum of Music, the Žofín garden, and the Church of St Barbara, Kutná Hora. The Proms present a mixed programme of serious and popular repertoire.

Summer Festivities of Early Music (Letní slavnosti staré hudby)

Web: http://www.letnislavnosti.cz 

Founded in 2000, the Summer Festivities of Early Music presents a series of themed concerts at a number of venues throughout the city during late July and early August. 

Lávka River Stage

Web: http://www.lavkariverstage.cz

Established only in 2010, Lávka River Stage runs from the end of July until the end of August on a stage erected under the Charles Bridge. Performances include opera, ballet, street theatre, and video mapping, including performances by classical crossover artists.

Opera Barocca

Web: http://www.operabarocca.cz

Opera Barocca is a festival of baroque music, dance, and theatre held annually during the months of August and September. The festival offers a total experience of historically informed performance: period instruments, A415 tuning, historical costumes, and the naturally candle-lit setting of the Clam-Gallas Palace, one of Prague's finest baroque buildings.

Dvořák Prague Festival (Dvořákova Praha)

Web: http://www.dvorakovapraha.cz

The Dvořák Prague Festival takes place in August and/or September at the Dvořák Hall and Suk Hall of the Rudolfinum.

Prague International Organ Festival

Web: http://www.auditeorganum.cz

Email: info@auditeorganum.cz 

Established in1996, the Prague International Organ Festival is held under the patronage of both the City of Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. The festival consists of a series of weekly concerts held during August and September. These concerts take place in the Minor Basilica of St James the Great (Kostel svatého Jakuba Většího) at Malá Štupartská 6 (see http://praha.minorite.cz).

Prague Music Festival, Václav Hudeček and his Guests (Svátky hudby v Praze, Václav Hudeček a jeho hosté)

Web: http://www.vaclavhudecek-svatkyhudby.cz

E-mail: info@musiccom.cz

The Prague Music Festival was established in 1992 by Václav Hudeček, a former student of the great David Oistrakh, and is held under the patronage of the Mayoralty of Prague. With a focus on chamber music, the festival provides performance opportunities for the best emerging talents of Czech classical music as well as more established artists and, of course, Hudeček himself. The festival consists of a series of concerts held on a roughly monthly basis from October through to May. Performances take place in a number of venues, including the Rudolfinum (Dvořák Hall), Prague Conservatoire, and the Church of St Simon and St Jude. Tickets can be purchased from tourist information centres and online at http://www.ticketportal.cz.

Strings of Autumn (Struny podzimu) 

Web: http://www.strunypodzimu.cz

Email: vstupenky@strunypodzimu.cz

In October and November 2015 Strings of Autumn celebrates its 20th anniversary with a series of concerts at eleven venues throughout the city, presenting performances by internationally celebrated artists including Paul Hillier, Cameron Carpenter, Gil Shaham, and Philippe Jaroussky.

Concert venues

Rudolfinum: Dvořák Hall and Suk Hall

Alšovo nábřeží 12, 110 01 Praha 1

Web: http://www.ceskafilharmonie.cz

Email: info@cfmail.cz

The Rudolfinum is the home of the Czech Philharmonic, although other ensembles and solo artists do also perform there from time to time. The Dvořák Hall is used mainly for performances of the orchestral repertoire and the Suk Hall for chamber music and solo recitals.

Municipal House (Obecní dům)

Náměstí republiky 5, 111 21 Praha 1

Web: http://www.obecnidum.cz

Email: info@obecnidum.cz

The main concert hall is the Smetana Hall, but concerts are also performed in the Sladkovský Hall, the Grégr Hall, and the Wine Cellar. The Obecní dům is used both for performances of the more serious repertoire and for more popular concerts produced by ensembles such as the Prague Music Chamber Orchestra and the Prague Royal Orchestra.

Church of St Simon and St Jude (Kostel sv. Šimona a Judy)

Dušní street, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.kostel.cz

Email: j.sefrna@fok.cz, t.karlicek@fok.cz

The church serves primarily as a concert hall for the Prague Symphony Orchestra with occasional performances by other artists.

Atrium na Žižkově

Čajkovského 12, 130 00 Praha 3

Web: http://www.atriumzizkov.cz

Email: info@atriumzizkov.cz

Atrium na Žižkově produces performances of chamber music, solo recitals, and occasionally small orchestral concerts.

Czech Museum of Music (České muzeum hudby)

Karmelitská 2/4, 118 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.nm.cz/Czech-Museum-of-Musi...

Email: c_muzeum_hudby@nm.cz

The museum produces a small number of free concerts.

Prague Conservatoire (Pražská konzervatoř)

Na Rejdišti 1, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.prgcons.cz/concerts

Email: conserv@prgcons.cz

The Prague Conservatoire, one of the world’s most distinguished music schools, produces concerts at its own concert hall, as well as at other venues, such as the Martinů Hall of the Lichtenštejnský palác, the Church of St Nicholas in the Malá Strana, and the Spanish Synagogue.

Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (HAMU: Hudební a taneční fakulta Akademie múzických umění v Praze)

Malostranské náměstí 13, 118 01 Praha 1

Web: http://www.hamu.cz/koncerty-a-predsta...

HAMU is based in the Lichtenštejnský palác, where performances takes place in Martinů Hall, Gallery, or Respirium. Concerts also occasionally take place at other venues, such as the Národní dům, Vinohrady. Performances of opera and dance take place in the DISK Theatre (http://www.divadlodisk.cz), part of the drama faculty of the academy (http://www.damu.cz). Tickets are available directly from the academy, from the Via Musica shops at Malostranské náměstí 13 and Staroměstské náměstí 14, and from the Široký dvůr music shop at Loretánské náměstí 4.

 

Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)

Web: http://www.kulturanahrade.cz

Concerts take place from time to time at venues within the castle.

Popular concerts

By far the largest number of concerts taking place in Prague are performances of popular classical music aimed almost exclusively at the tourist market. It should be noted that these concerts are typically more expensive than many of the more traditional performances listed above, and in almost all instances inferior in quality. Many of these concerts take place in churches, details of which can be found on some of the websites linked at the end of this article. Flyers advertising these concerts are also distributed throughout the city centre. Details for some of the more noteworthy popular concerts are given below.

Spanish Synagogue (Španělská synagoga)

Vězeňská 1, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/acultsp...

Concerts in the Spanish Synagogue are organised by the BM Art Agency (http://www.bmart.cz) and most performances are given by the Czech Collegium with solo artists. Concerts take place most evenings, except, usually, Fridays and Saturdays. Four programmes, Gershwin, Bolero, The Best of Czech and World Music, and, less often, Jewish Mystical Melodies, are presented in rotation. Tickets are available directly from the synagogue, from the Via Musica shops at Malostranské náměstí 13 and Staroměstské náměstí 14, or online at http://www.webticket.cz.

Mozartissimo at the Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo) 

Ovocný trh 6, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz

Email: dotazy@narodni-divadlo.cz

Mozartissimo is also produced by the BM Art Agency (http://www.bmart.cz). The programme includes highlights from Mozart's operas Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Le Nozze di Figaro. For information about booking tickets see the website of the National Theatre (Národní divadlo), of which the Estates Theatre is now a part.

Lobkowicz Palace (Lobkowiczký palác)

Jiřská 3, 119 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.lobkowicz.cz/en/Midday-Cla...

Email: palace@lobkowiczevents.cz

Concerts take place at 1 p.m. daily in the seventeenth-century concert hall of the Lobkowicz Palace, located within Prague Castle. The performance, lasting about one hour, includes solo and ensemble works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák, and Smetana. The performers are professional musicians, including members of the Czech Philharmonic. 

Klementinum

Křižovnická 190/Karlova 1/Mariánské náměstí 5, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.klementinum.com/index.php?...

Email: mrehorova@dreyer.cz

Concerts take place in the Mirror Chapel, which has two organs, both dating from the eighteenth century. There is a standard programme which is performed daily at 5 p.m. from November until March and at 6 p.m. from April until October.

Antonín Dvořák Museum (Muzeum Antonína Dvořáka) (Villa Amerika)

Ke Karlovu 20, 120 00 Praha 2

Web: http://www.nm.cz/Hlavni-strana/Visit-...

Email: a_dvorak_museum@nm.cz

Concerts take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays from May until September.

Hybernia Theatre (Divadlo Hybernia)

Náměstí republiky 4, 110 00 Praha 1

Web: http://www.hybernia.eu

Email: izakovic@hybernia.eu

Primarily a venue for musical theatre, the Hybernia Theatre also presents a popular and long-running show called The Best of Swan Lake. Potential visitors should note a number of dissimilarities between the show at the Hybernia and the actual ballet. Running to just 1 hour and 45 minutes, including one intermission, the Hybernia has cut a substantial amount of material from the original Swan Lake, which typically has a duration of between 2 hours and 20 minutes and 3 hours, including one or two intermissions, depending upon the demands of the production. Similarly, the production uses a cast of just twelve dancers, compared with traditional productions, which may deploy forces from between twice to ten times that number. While both staging and lighting are spare, the biggest disappointment for classical music lovers will be the absence of a live orchestra in the pit. This is replaced by a pre-recorded soundtrack, which also includes pre-recorded applause! (See http://www.praguepost.com/night-and-d... for an even-handed assessment.) Ticket prices range from €28 to €52, making this one of the more expensive nights at the ballet available in Prague.

Dress code

The Czech Republic is somewhat more formal than many other western countries, though not excessively so. For the State Opera the official advice is that men should wear lounge suits and women should wear evening dresses, although a trouser equivalent is acceptable in line with present-day convention. The National Theatre asks visitors to wear evening dress, although the information published in Czech says more literally that visitors ought to dress according to social convention. For other venues there is no prescribed dress code, but visitors should consider what sort of dress would be appropriate. For some of the grander concerts jacket and tie, or even a lounge suit, for men is a sound benchmark, but for most other occasions smart casual is sufficient.

Useful websites

Prague Culture: http://pragueculture.blogspot.com

Prague Experience: http://www.pragueexperience.com/opera...

Czech Site: http://www.czechsite.com/music.html

Prague Guide: http://www.prague-guide.co.uk

Bohemia Ticket: http://www.bohemiaticket.cz

Classic World: http://www.classicworld.at/?p=33&l=2&c=3