The Czech conductor, who led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for a decade, was a passionate champion of Czech music
The Czech conductor Libor Pešek, who led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) between 1987 and 1997, has recently passed away.
Pešek was a true champion of Czech music, particularly that of Josef Suk and Vítězslav Novák. He was also fond of the works of Dvořák and Janáček and ensured that their music was brought to a new generation of British listeners.
Born in Prague in 1933, Pešek studied cello, piano, trombone, and conducting at the city’s Academy of Musical Arts, before taking up a conducting position at the Prague National Opera. During this time he served as director of many Czech ensembles, including the Slovak Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic.
In 1987, he took over the direction of the RLPO, who under his baton was fondly described as the “best Czech orchestra this side of Prague.” Pešek became the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate in 1997.
He then returned to his homeland, and in 2007 became the Chief Conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
The significance of Pešek’s work was formally recognized when he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in 1996.
“It is with deep sadness that we learnt that Libor Pešek KBE died yesterday in Prague,” wrote the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in a statement. “Everyone at Liverpool Philharmonic sends their deepest sympathies to Libor’s family at this time.”
“His philosophy for life was basically to enjoy it and share that enjoyment with friends,” said Sandra Parr, the RLPO’s Artistic Planning Director. “He addressed everyone as colleague in a most warm, friendly way that everyone who met him liked him immediately.”
“The twinkle in his eye, his generous friendship and heartfelt music making will be missed by thousands – especially his friends back in Liverpool,” she continued. “It was an honor to have met and worked closely with our colleague and we send our condolences to all his family and friends in Prague.”