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(This is a very short biography which couldn't be checked by the Kubelík family)



Né le 29 juin 1914 dans le domaine familial de Býchory, à 6 km de Kolin, dans la plaine de l'Elbe, aux environs de Prague, actuellement République tchèque, le lendemain de l'attentat de Sarajevo. Mort à Kastanienbaum, près de Lucerne, le 11 août 1996, Rafael Jeronym Kubelík était le sixième de huit enfants du couple  d'un des plus grands violonistes du début du XX ème siècle, Jan Kubelík (1880-1940) et de la comtesse hongroise Csaky-Szell (Marianna Szell de Duka et Szentgyörgyvölgy), et petit-fils d'un musicien amateur (une de ses sœurs, Anita, était violoniste). Il devint une figure marquante de la direction d'orchestre de la deuxième moitié du XXe siècle, tout en restant finalement un artiste dont la renommée n'a pas été de son vivant à la hauteur de son art, d'où l'existence de ce site.
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Born on 29 June 1914 in the family castle in Býchory, 6 km from Kolin, next to Prague, the day after Sarajevo.
Rafael Kubelík was the 6th of eight children - Rafael had been preceded by 5 sisters and followed by 2 brothers, Christian & Jan Baptist, who died at the age of two.
His father was of one of the most famous violinists of the beginning of the XXth century, Jan Kubelík (1880-1940) and Marianne Csaky-Szell, previously a Hungarian countess (Marianna Szell de Duka et Szentgyörgyvölgy), and grand' child of an amateur musician.
   


De 1921 à 1929, il étudia le violon avec son père et jouait le répertoire à 4 mains avec son oncle František.
R. Kubelík a poursuivi des études de piano, violon et composition au Conservatoire de Prague (1929-1933). Il fut un enfant précoce : son père déclarait en 1926 : "mon jeune fils est le plus talentueux. Il pourrait faire de grandes choses. Il a onze ans, joue brillamment du piano et du violon, lit les partitions à vue et connaît bien l'orchestre. Il y a peu de temps, il s'est penché sur mon travail concernant une orchestration et me demanda d'ajouter un cor à un certain passage : il avait raison !".
Kubelík lui-même déclara : "Étant enfant, je persuadai mes parents de me donner la partition des symphoniques de Beethoven dans l'édition de poche Eulenburg. J'étais capable de lire la musique avant de savoir compter ; je lisais les partitions dans mon lit, sous ma table à l'école... Mes premières impressions étaient intenses - et le sont restées depuis".
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From 1921 to 1929 he studied daily the symphonic repertoire, playing four hands on the piano with his uncle Frantisek Kubelík. he will attend the Prague Conseervatory of Music - Subjects : composition, violin, piano and conducting.
Kubelík: "As a child I persuaded my parents to give me scores of the Beethoven Symphonies, Eulenburg pocket scores. I was able to read music before I could write or count; I read the scores in bed, under my desk at school ... The first impressions were tremendous - and they have remained ever since".
R. Kubelík followed piano, violin and composition studies at the Prague conservatory (1929-1933).
His father declared in 1926: "My oldest son is the most gifted. He could realize great things. He is eleven, plays splendidly violin, piano, sightseeing scores and has a good knowledge of the orchestra.
Some time ago he had a look to one of my orchestration works and asked me to add a horn to a particular part: he was right!" Later in life he recalled: "Our life was marked by Czech, Slavic, German, Italian and also French culture, and our professors and students were a real family which endeavoured to achieve something new. We wanted something new because at that time our republic was also new and young. That was a time of peaceful coexistence between Czechs and Germans; I used to go to a German theatre where I heard Czech operas sung in German... And on the other hand, in the Czech National Theatre I heard Lohengrin and Tannhâuser sung in Czech. It was such natural harmony that 1 could hardly have imagined anything else."



Adolescent, il put ainsi au cours d'un même concert interpréter une fantaisie pour violon de sa composition, et diriger une ouverture de Dvořák. Il entra au Conservatoire de Prague à 14 ans et obtint ses diplômes en direction d'orchestre, composition et violon (avec le Concerto en ré majeur de Paganini). Il y eu comme professeurs Otakar Šín (composition), Pavel Dědeček (direction) et Jindrich F. Feld (violon). Après son concert de fin d'étude du 23 juin 1933, où il joua un concerto de Paganini et sa Fantasie, Il fit ses débuts à la tête de la Philharmonie tchèque à à peine 20 ans, le 24 janvier 1934. Au programme, entre autres : sa Fantaisie op. 2 qui lui avait valu son diplôme de composition - jouée en soliste par son père - et la 4e de Tchaïkovski. Il accompagna son père en tournée en 1935/1936, au piano, aux États-Unis pendant l'année 1935 et en Italie. Il joua d'ailleurs un concerto pour violon de Mozart avec la Philharmonie tchèque. En 1937, son maître, Vaclav Talich, souffrant, l'envoya en tournée en Angleterre (2), Écosse et Belgique à la tête de la Philharmonie tchèque pour une tournée prestigieuse de vingt concerts, tournée répétée l'année suivante. Il restera donc directeur musical de l'orchestre philharmonique tchèque de 1936 à 1948.
 
In 1933, he completed his studies at the Prague conservatory; in his two final concerts, he played a Paganini concerto, his own Fantasy for violin and orchestra and Dvořák's Othello Overture.
He began at the head of the Czech Philharmonic at 20 on January 24th, 1934, with Beethoven's Violin concerto, his own Fantasy op.2 played by his father and Tchaikovsky's Fourth symphony.
He accompanied his father, on piano, in 1935/1936 in United States, Italy and Romania.
In 1936, on his return to Prague, Rafael Kubelík was appointed permanent conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, which was still headed by Vaclav Talich. In 1937, Talich, ill, put him on a journey towards England, Scotland and Belgium, conducting the Czech Philharmonic for a prestigious 20 concerts series, which will be redone the year after. Thus, he will stay Czech orchestra's permanent conductor from 1936 to 1939.
In 1937, he gave a concert tour with American orchestras, invited to become permanent conductor there, which he did not accept. Following a triumphal tour with the orchestra, along with George Szell, he was invited to record 2 excerpts from Ma Vlast for HMV.
In 1939, he was appointed Chief of the National Theater ("Janáčkova opera Zemského divadla") in Brno and will stay in this position until its closure by the Nazis on November 12, 1941. He gave there 8 operas, including the complete Troyans.
Later in life he recalled: "Our life was marked by Czech, Slavic, German, Italian and also French culture, and our professors and students were a real family which endeavored to achieve something new. We wanted something new because at that time our republic was also new and young. That was a time of peaceful coexistence between Czechs and Germans; I used to go to a German theatre where I heard Czech operas sung in German... And on the other hand, in the Czech National Theatre I heard Lohengrin and Tannhäuser sung in Czech. It was such natural harmony that I could hardly have imagined anything else."






Le 15 août 1939, il était chef au Théâtre National de Brno et se retira à sa fermeture par les Allemands en 1941(2?) - il y joua notamment La Fiancée vendue, Dalibor et Le Baiser de Smetana, Le Jacobin et Rusalka de Dvořák, La Flûte, Jenůfa et  Les Troyens. Dans tous les opéras du monde, il donnera des opéras méconnus dans la langue locale. Son père mourut le 5 décembre 1940, Raphaël avait 26 ans. En 1941, il succéda à Vaclav Talich à la tête de la Philharmonie tchèque. Il refusera toujours de collaborer avec les Nazis. Il se mariera en 1942 avec la violoniste Ludmila Bartlova (concerto de Dvořák en 1955 par exemple). Il lutta pour maintenir l'orchestre philharmonique tchèque pendant la guerre, défendant la musique tchèque dans ses programmes. Il contribua à la nationalisation de l'orchestre philharmonique tchèque (le 22/10/45) ainsi qu'à la transformation du Mai musical de Prague, fondé par Talich, en Festival international de musique du printemps de Prague ("Printemps de Prague" en mai) en 1946 (12 mai), lors du 50e anniversaire de l'orchestre philharmonique tchèque (invitant des artistes du niveau de Menuhin, Oistrakh, Fournier, Munch ou Bernstein pour sa prmière venue en Europe). On le vit diriger les œuvres du répertoire tchèque, notamment les Danses Slaves pour les ouvriers des usines. Après le 21 juin sur la place de la vieille ville, il dirigea pour la dernière fois Ma Patrie le 5 juillet pour le rassemblement national des Sokol. On notera son soutien à des compositeurs tchèques contemporains, tels Vitezslava Kapralova. Avant l'exil, il dirigera notamment l'orchestre avec l'oratorio Sainte Ludmila d'Antonin Dvořák en mai 1948.
 
 
His father, Jan Kubelík, died on 5 December 1940, Rafael was then 26.
He became chief director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, from 1942 to 1948.
He will get married in 1942 with violinistLudmila Bertlova, with whom he had one son, Martin (1946). Here, their encounter with Bernstein in 1946 (Time). From The Pope's Maestro  by Gilbert Levine: Maestro Kubelík had in fact been quite heroic. He had refused to conduct Wagner, as commanded by Prague’s Nazi occupiers, during the entire period of the war. He finally fled the Czech capital after famously refusing to bark the required Heil Hitler at a Philharmonic concert attended by high Nazi officials. 
On 20 June 1945, on occasion of the end of the 2nd World War, he conducted Smetana's Ma Vlast in a concert on Old Town Square. Walter Legge, looking for new talents, made him recording Janacek's Sinfonietta in 1945.
He gave among many other works: the Bartered Bride, Dalibor and the Kiss by Smetana, Jacobin and Rusalka by Dvořák, Zauberflöte, Jenufa and the Trojans.
Kubelík had to struggle with the Nazi regime and was accused of at least passive resistance - he refused to conduct Wagner music for instance as well to do the Hitler salute. In 1944 he even disappears from Prague so as not to fall in the clutches of the Nazis.
 
He fought to maintain the Czech Philharmonic during the war, supporting Czech music in his programs. He contributed to its nationalization (10/22/45) and to the transformation of the Musical May of Prague, created by Talich, for the Czech philharmonic 50th anniversary (1946).
He conducted the Czech repertoire, for example Slavonic Dances for workers in plants. He gave for the last time Ma Vlast on July 5th for the Sokol assembly.
One can notice his support to contemporary Czech composers, as Vitezslava Kapralova.
He left his country on 17 July 1948 to escape from the communist regime installed in February - taking advantage of a tour in England to conduct Don Giovanni in Glyndebourne, on Bruno Walter's recommendation (whom he had assisted in this work at the 1937 Salzburg Festival).
'I had lived through one form of bestial tyranny, Nazism,'' he told an interviewer about his decision to leave after the Communist takeover. ''As a matter of principle, I was not going to live through another. I left Czechoslovakia in 1948 vowing that I would never return until Communist rule was driven from my homeland. They have invited me back several times -- in 1956 and 1966 - with promises of freedom to do anything I wanted. But so long as that system of government rules anywhere, I refuse to set foot on that soil.''
"I am an anti-communist and anti-fascist. I do not think that artistic freedom can cope with a totalitarian regime. Individuals cannot do anything in a totalitarian country; people who think they can - from their own merits are really naive". He once said: "I think of myself as a member of the great artistic family of mankind, which has for two thousand years been struggling for the freedom of spirit based on the Christian-humanistic values. Let no artist dare betray this family; let him breathe for it, live for it. The mission of every artist is to profess the credo of his own convictions and to act in accordance with his conscience."
Since the early 1950s, he had numerous invitations to return to Czechoslovakia, which he always refused with the insistence that his return would only be possible if all political prisoners were freed and the same freedom promised to him would be granted to all citizens of Czechoslovakia.
He will make several studio recordings with the Philharmonia orchestra for HMV, mainly from 1948 to 1952, accompanying some artists from this label: Lympany, Fournier, Gieseking, Handel, Solomon.


 
Il quitta son pays le 17 juillet 1948 pour fuir le régime communiste instauré par un coup d'état en février de la même année - à l'occasion d'un voyage en Angleterre pour diriger Don Giovanni au festival d'Edimbourg. En Angleterre, il déclina l'offre d'un poste à la BBC pour aller à Chicago (1er concert le 17/11/49). Il débuta une "carrière" de chef itinérant, par exemple au Concertgebouw d'Amsterdam (premier concert le 16/1/9) aux côtés de Edouard von Beinum, (excellent artisan mais dont les interprétations, assez métronomiques, ne sauraient égaler celles de RK) - cf. 5ème de Mahler de 1951. Il fit une tournée remarquée avec cet orchestre aux États-Unis. 
[Il ne retrouvera sa patrie qu'en 1990 pour le plus grand événement tchèque, musical et émotionnel, depuis la guerre : sa direction de Ma Vlast le 12 mai 1990 à la tête de la Philharmonie tchèque). Il fut alors nommé chef honoraire de l'orchestre philharmonique tchèque, docteur honoris causa de l'université Charles et citoyen d'honneur de la ville de Prague ; il donna également quelques concerts au Japon). Il dirigea le 9 juin un autre concert, en plein air sur la place Saint Venceslas,  qui réunit les musiciens de Prague, Slovaquie et de Brno, réminiscence d'un même concert du 29 juin 1945. ("Un oiseau ne chante pas dans une cage. J'ai quitté ma patrie pour ne pas avoir à quitter mon peuple. Je crois qu'on ne doit pas ligoter l'esprit par la politique"). Il dirigea une dernière fois l'orchestre le 11 octobre 1991 (Mozart et Nouveau Monde de Dvořák), au profit de la fondation Olga Havlova.]
Une chose était de diriger dans son pays sous l'emprise hitlérienne, mais cela lui paraissait encore pire que son pays lui-même soit devenu un pays totalitaire : "Je suis un anti-communiste et un anti-fasciste. Je ne crois pas que la liberté artistique puisse coexister avec un régime totalitaire. Les individus ne peuvent rien faire dans les pays soumis à un rideau de fer, et bien naïf est celui qui pense qu'ils le peuvent, ou qu'ils peuvent changer quoi que soit par leurs seuls mérites".
Il donnera en 1949 des concerts à Amsterdam, Besançon, Birmingham, Chicago, Edinburgh, London, Paris, Pittsburgh, Rome, Turin, Venise.
Il réalisa un certain nombre d'enregistrements à Londres sous la houlette de Walter Legge. Il était demandé par les jeunes instrumentistes du Philharmonia qui le considéraient comme le meilleur jeune chef à côté de Karajan et la BBC l'aurait bien vu succéder à Sir Adrian Boult.
Après le succès de trois semaines de concerts par souscription, au grand dam de W. Walton qui déclara qu'il était fâcheux de voir partir celui qui aurait pu être pour ce pays "at least one decent conductor",  il sera trois ans durant (17/11/1949 -1953) chef du Chicago Symphony Orchestra (36 ans à sa nomination), jouant 70 œuvres nouvelles pour l'orchestre en 3 saisons et enregistrant le 1er disque haute fidélité aux US, puis fut mis sur la touche, notamment pour ses programmes trop modernes ou son ouverture envers les musiciens noirs, par une certaine Claudia Cassidy. Il retournera de nombreuses fois à Chicago,  sa dernière apparition se situant le 18 octobre 1991, avec l'ouverture Hussite de Dvořák pour le concert final des manifestations du centenaire de l'orchestre, qui était une recréation du concert inaugural du 16 octobre 1891. 
Il sera en charge de deux saisons à Covent Garden (1955 -1958 : premières des Troyens, de Jenůfa, Othello, Maîtres chanteurs), après le succès remporté par Katia Kabanova au Sadler's Wells en 1954). Sa carrière londonienne n'aura pas été facilitée non plus par le fils du créateur des pilules Beecham... Cf. extrait du livre de Norman Lebrecht "Maestro" où l'auteur règle son compte à Beecham. André Tubeuf  (Diapason n°430 - Passionnant article - réhabilitant - à l'occasion du décès de RK) rapporte qu'une de ses premières décisions fut de renvoyer Tito Gobbi, en retard aux répétitions, alors que les autres artistes répétaient Othello depuis 10 jours... Ses nombreux engagements lui firent quitter Covent garden. Après EMI, (cf. note d'Alan Sanders sur l'histoire de Kubelík chez EMI, écrite pour Testament), Kubelík enregistre alors avec Vienne pour Decca (1er enregistrement : les Danses Slaves en 1954). Il dirigea dès 1957 la Philharmonie de Berlin et travaillera notamment avec l'orchestre philharmonique de Vienne donc, celui d'Israël et le Boston Symphony.
 
 
He will appear with the Concertgebouw orchestra in Amsterdam from January 1949, giving 40 concerts in two years. In the single year of 1949, he will have performed in Amsterdam, Besançon, Birmingham, Chicago, Edinburgh, London, Paris, Pittsburgh, Rome, Turin, Venise.


He recorded exclusively for Decca for some years, with the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra.
He had been asked for by young players from the Philharmonia which considered him as the most talented conductor besides Karajan, and the BBC was considering him as Adrian Boult's successor. (Here, a relation of his first concerts with the Chicago symphony orchestra -Time-).
But he then became for three years (debut on 11/17/1949, followed by three weeks of subscription concerts led to his appointment as the Orchestra’s fifth music director until 1953) chief of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (he was 36 years old when nominated), creating 70 works in 3 seasons and recording the first high fidelity recording, and then would be put away. His plan to remake the orchestra by replacing 22 of its players met immediate opposition. So did his ambitious programming of contemporary music, including pieces by Lukas Foss, Roy Harris, William Schuman and Aaron Copland. He failed to win champions among the critics; indeed, his departure from the post is often ascribed to the implacable opposition of Claudia Cassidy, the chief critic of the Chicago Tribune.
He will return several times in Chicago, his last appearance being in October 18, 1991, with the Hussika overture by Dvořák for the last commemorative concert of the orchestra's centennial, a re-creation of the first concert of the orchestra in October 16, 1891.
Having enjoyed great success conducting Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová with the Sadler’s Wells opera company in London in 1954, Kubelík was appointed chief conductor of the Covent Garden opera company at the Royal Opera House in 1955 till 1958 ; season begun with Katia Kabanova followed by Othello, The magic flute, Les Troyens, Die Meistersinger, The bartered bride, Jenufa. But his London career had not be helped by the son of the creator of the Beecham's pills... He had a serious car accident in spring 1956.
From 1957, he will regularly conduct the Berlin philharmonic.


Conducting the Bavarian symphony orchestra in the Herkulessaal at the Munich Residenz Rafael Kubelík & Claudio Arrau Rafael Kubelík & Yehudi Menuhin
Tout en terminant un contrat signé avec EMI, il dirigea son premier concert avec l'orchestre de la Radiodiffusion bavaroise le 12 février 1960, dans un programme comprenant la Sinfonia concertante de Martinů, celle de Mozart et la 7e de Beethoven. Les musiciens de l'orchestre déclarèrent : "Ce fut l'amour entre nous au premier regard. Nous avons su après la première semaine de concerts que c'était le chef que nous souhaitions." En 1961, il sera nommé Directeur de l'Orchestre de la Radiodiffusion bavaroise, jusqu'à sa démission de ce poste en 1979, même s'il en restera chef principal jusqu'à sa retraite pour cause d'arthrite en 1985, jugeant que ses capacités physiques ne lui permettaient plus d'atteindre ses objectifs artistiques (on se rappelle avoir vu ce colosse complètement épuisé à la sortie de concerts qu'il donna avec l'Orchestre de Paris à Pleyel). Il acquiert la nationalité suisse en 1973, collaborant étroitement avec le Festival de Lucerne. Il se remariera après la mort de sa première femme, la violoniste Ludmilla Bertlová, avec la soprano australienne Elsie Morison en 1963.  
Si sa nomination ne se fit pas sans quelques remous (un Tchèque à Munich ! - rappelons qu'en mars 1904, un concert de son père fut chahuté par des germanophones à Linz sous le prétexte qu'il était tchèque), l'entente fut immédiate entre le chef et l'orchestre. Il donna à Munich  les programmes musicaux sans doute les plus exigeants, variés et intelligents de l'époque. Son répertoire allait de Palestrina au XXè siècle, les oratorios de Bach à Britten, les opéras en concert de Haendel à Janáček, les symphonies de Haydn à Hartmann et Henze. Il signa un contrat avec Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft de 1963 à 1976. Ce contrat lui permit - tout en lui faisant diriger des œuvres dont il n'était pas familier en concert : Falla, Grieg, Water music par exemple - d'enregistrer des standards du répertoire sans faire trop d'ombre à Karajan : Schumann, Dvorak, Beethoven, mais surtout ce qui devait être important pour lui, des œuvres modernes ou moins connues : Mahler (1e intégrale), Janacek, Schoenberg, Orff, Pfitzner et même Kubelík.
 

Il fit une tournée au Japon avec la Bavaroise en 1965. En 1968, il réussit à réunir 150 signatures de musiciens de stature internationale pour boycotter les états communistes après l'occupation militaire de la Tchécoslovaquie par les forces du pacte de Varsovie le 21 août 1968. En 1969, il donna des médailles commémoratives à tous les musiciens de la Philharmonie tchèque à l'occasion de leur visite au festival de Lucerne pour le cinquantenaire de la République tchèque (ces médailles leur furent confisquées par les autorités à leur retour au pays...).

He will satisfy a previous contract with HMV at the end if the 50', beginning of the 60'.
After having refused to conduct in Germany for more than 20 years, he gave his first concert with the Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestra on 12 February 1960, with the Sinfonia concertante by Martinů & Mozart's one and Beethoven's 7th.
His first wife, Ludmilla Bertlová, died in 1961 in Switzerland, where the couple then lived,  as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
In 1963, he remarried, to the Australian soprano Elsie Morison (b. 1924).
In 1961, he is nominated Director of the Bavarian Radio symphony orchestra until his dismiss in 1979; he will though stay its principal conductor until 7 June 1985; he will then resign for illness reasons, judging his health could not allow him to fulfill his artistic goals anymore (I remember seeing in the wings this colossus completely worn out after a Mahler concert in Paris in the 80's).
He signed a contract with the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft until 1976, with whom he will sign his most famous studio recordings.
He gave with the Bavarian forces a first concert tour in Japan in 1965. He had been invited in 1956 & 1966 to go back to his country by the czech communist government, but always declined
In 1968, he gathered around 150 world famous musicians to boycott all communist countries after the military occupation by the Warsaw Pact of the Czechoslovak Republic on 21 August 1968.
In 1969, he gave commemorative medals to all members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra on occasion of their visit to the Lucerne International Festival as commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic (these medals were confiscated by the Czechoslovak authorities upon the return of the Orchestra...).
He acquired the Swiss nationality in 1973, having lived there from 1953 in Lucerne, and later, from 1968 in nearby Kastanienbaum, directly on lake Lucerne. He will marry the Australian soprano Elsie Morison after his first wife's death from sequels after a car accident.  
Mutual understanding between Kubelík and the Munich orchestra has been immediate. He gave in Munich the most varied and intelligent programs for that period. His repertory extended from Palestrina to XX century music, oratorios from Bach to Britten, operas from Haendel to Janáček, symphonies from Zelenka to Hartmann or Henze. (A brief passage to the Metropolitan Opera has to be mentioned, since he became its Musical director from august 1973 to 1974; he will give up after a memorable version of Les Troyens). 
One can hear his clear and singing voice on the Bavarian Radio site, during a rehearsal of Beethoven 1st in 1966, or during this interview.
Numerous musical cycles have been done during that blessing period: in 66/67 the Beethoven symphonies cycle in chronological order, in 67/68 religious pieces from Palestrina to Stravinsky, in 68/69 Hindemith's Kammermusic and Bach suites, in 69/70 concertos by Mozart, ending with the Requiem in 70/71, each concert presented a symphony by Haydn.
He gave with the Bavarian forces a first concert tour in Japan in 1965. In 1969, he gave commemorative medals to all members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra on occasion of their visit to the Lucerne International Festival as commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic (these medals were confiscated by the Czechoslovak authorities upon the return of the Orchestra...).

 



Kubelík with the Vienna Philharmonic
In 71/72 each concert with the Bavarian Radio symhony orchestra was dedicated to a single composer, 72/73 season was dedicated to XX century music, 73/74 to symphonic poems, and so on.
Programs included also Britten's War Requiem, Les Béatitudes by Franck, Manfred by Schumann, From House of dead by Janáček, Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher by Honegger, and Pelléas by Debussy, Gurrelieder by Schoenberg, Oedipus Rex by Stravinsky, Xerxès by Haendel, Iphigénie en Tauride by Gluck, Les Maîtres chanteurs, Lohengrin and Parsifal by Wagner, Oberon by Weber, Dalibor by Smetana, Palestrina by Pfitzner, Mathis der Maler by Hindemith, Prometheus and Œdipe le Tyran by Orff, Die Lustige Weiber von Windsor by Nicolaï.
He created numerous works as Martinů's Field Mass (1946), Les Fresques (1956) and the 5th symphony (1947), the Six monologues de Jedermann by F. Martin (1949), Jacob's Leiter by Schoenberg (1961), the 8th symphony (1963) and the Symphonic Hymns (1975) by K. A. Hartmann. He once said: "You can never 'conduct' a piece, you must live it. I've never in my life conducted a piece - I make music".
He will resign his directorship in Munich in 1979, but will stay principal conductor until 1985 (specially after Kondrashin death).
Musical Prize Mme-Léonie-Sonning (Denmark) in 1984, two years before Pierre Boulez (and the gold medal from The Royal Philharmonic Society in 1990).
Other awards (from Bach-cantatas site): National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity; "Composer" Medals: Beethoven (Royal Philharmonic Society), Bruckner, Hartmann, Janacek, Mahler (3 different medals), Nielsen and others; Numerous awards for his recordings; Numerous honorary membership in academies etc.; Honorary doctorates (including Charles University in Prague); Knighthoods and similar: Ridder af Danneborgordenen (1960; Denmark), Bayerischer Verdienstorden (1966), Grosses Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens der BRD (1974), Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et Lettres (1984, France), Thomas G. Masaryk Order 1st Class (1991, Czechoslovak Federation), Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (1996, UK) and others; he was given various honours in Israel, including from the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund (1954, Keren Kaymeth Leisrael), award from Moshe Dayan, etc.
He gave some concerts in Paris, specially the beginning of a Mahler cycle in the 80' with the Paris orchestra.
We tried to get in touch with Him at that period but without success
He was very critic about his own talent: "there has not been a single concert in my life from which I could say everything matched my hope, and I gave thousands!".  He was a friend of numerous conductors: Szell, Cluytens, Sawallisch, Neumann, Ansermet, Fricsay, Kertesz, Kempe amoung others like Klemperer with whom he used to play chests.
Many concerts have been officialy released by Orfeo and Audite

 


Albert Scharf, Elsie & Rafael Kubelik - for his 75th anniversary Colin Davis conducting the Sinfonietta, Dvorak 7 and Kubelik's Symphonische peripetie with Edgar Krapp - 12-13/10/1989
He gave with the SOBR an English tournee (6/26-7/4/1980) in London, Shieffield, York, Liverpool, Manchester & Coventry, he then conducted Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia with the Bavarian State Opera, his own 'Kantata ohne Worte' in 1981.
Following the closure of his contract with DGG, he made some studio recordings under the CBS (then Sony) label.
First half of 80' years saw many of his appearances in New-York and Chicago or Philadelphia for splendid concerts.
His last official concert took place in Munich with Bruckner's 9th, June 7, 1985.
He will retire in 1985, going often in California (" La Quinta") for health reasons. His "Indian spring" of 1990 apart, he just made public appearances to attend to some of his works creation.




He will only go back to his homeland in 1990 for the greatest Czech event, musical and emotional, since the War: his conducting of Ma Vlast on May 12, 1990 at the head of the Czech Philharmonic. He was then named "honorary conductor of the Czech Philharmonic" and doctor honoris causa of the Charles University and also Honor citizen of Prague; he gave also later on some concerts in Japan).
He gave on June 9th another concert, in the Saint Venceslas plaza, which gathered musicians from Prague, Slovakia and Brno, a remake of a concert given in 29 June 1945. ("A bird does not song in a cage. I left my homeland not to have to quit my people. Spirit should not be tied by politic"). He gave a last concert on 11 October 1991 (Mozart and Dvořák's New world symphony), to the Olga Havlova foundation's profit.
Died on 8/11/1996 near Lucerne , he is buried in the VyŠehrad cemetery, besides Dvořák, Mucha, Smetana and his father... Vaclav Havel wrote: "I admired Rafael Kubelík at the highest level, not only for all the glory he brought to Czech music, but also because he was an extraordinary character and a patriot".
Composing
His own works include five operas (Veronika, 19/4/47 - Brno, Tagensanbruch, 1958, Cornelia Faroni, 1972), two symphonies (Séquences, Orphikon), three Requiems: Pro memoria patris (1941), Pro memoria patriae (1955), Pro memoria Uxoris (1962 -created by Kubelík at the Luzern festival) and several cantatas (Libera nos, 1963), two masses (1955 et 1957), a Fantasy for violin and orchestra (1932/1933), two violin concertos (1932/33 et 1951), a concerto for flute and chamber orchestra (1943), a cello concerto (1944), a piano concerto (1950), six string quartets (cf. 2nd), a piano trio (Trio concertante) (1988, created in 1989 in Cologne by the Altenberg Trio), chamber music (sonata for piano and violin, 1931/1932), songs, three Stabat Mater, a
Symphonic Peripeteia for organ and orchestra and a Sonatine for piano (1957).
His little-nephew is a renowned violonist: http://www.renekubelik.com

Orbituary

© 2001- 17/8/2015- Thierry Vagne


Documents

Rafael Kubelíks Goldenes Zeitalter - "The Golden Era" of Rafael Kubelík
Bayerischer Rundfunk - Bärenreiter - Renate Ulm

I have been waiting for long to this bilingual book. Some nice pictures from Werner Neumeister (black & white) some quotes from musicians or Kubelík himself, a good biography. If you want to acquire this book and are not acquainted with Kubelík, all the dithyrambic comments will be understood viewing the joint DVD of a rehearsal of Smetana's overture.     

     

Rafael Kubelík 1990-1996
Thanks to Prof. Dr. Dr.hc. Martin Kubelík,
A wonderful book of pictures of Rafael Kubelík from 1991 till his death,
by Zdeněk Chrapek - Nakladatelství - Praha 1007
DVD - Arthaus
Music is my country
A Film by Reiner E. Moritz (2003)
With commentary by Elsie and Martin Kubelík, Daniel Barenboïm and Albert Scharf
The DVD you want to get if - this site apart... - you want to know better the man Kubelík. Of course there are many lacks but in 1h 17' you will see superb documents and testimonies.

Excerpt from a critic on Naxos Web site :
[...] But the film clearly shows how Kubelík's optimism and honor suffused his musicmaking, as if he were a humanist from an earlier time unaccountably dropped into the 20th Century. And if that always was rare in the musical world, it became that much more so in the decade since his passing.

50 Jahre Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - Bayerischer Rundfunks - Bärenreiter
Renate Ulm
This book is out of print, but could still be found on amazon or e-bay.
It is entirely in German, they could have translated it in English at least...
There is a list of Kubelík's concerts - uncomplete...

 Biographie de Rafael Kubelík - Discographie de Rafael Kubelík - Liste des concerts de Rafael Kubelík - Les meilleurs enregistrements de Rafael Kubelík
 Biography of Rafael Kubelík - Discography of Rafael Kubelík - Concerts list by Rafael Kubelík - Best of Rafael Kubelík