Rudolfinum Prague Czech Republic

The Rudolfinum
The Rudolfinum and Dvořák Sculpture
Parnas Ensemble

The Rudolfinum is one of Prague’s most beautiful neo-renaissance buildings, “unrivaled by other European galleries of its time”. It’s in Jan Palach Square in Old Town along the Vltava River. Last night I attended a classical concert at the Rudolfinum performed by Prague’s Parnas Ensemble. The ensemble is a string quintet – two violins, viola, cello, and a double bass – formed by members of the Czech Philharmonic.

Parnas Ensemble - Minus Double Bass
Parnas Ensemble – Minus Double Bass

Members of the group are brilliant musicians who “have achieved rich experience both as soloists and chamber music players at concerts in Prague and abroad”. The program included pieces from the works of Mozart, Pachelbel, Haydn, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bizet, Bach, and Dvořák and was an incredible performance in a special atmosphere. Their encore was Leroy Andersen’s Plink, Plank, Plunk where the musicians hammed it up playing their instruments using fingers only!

Garden of Earthly Delights III
Raqib Shaw – Garden of Earthly Delights III
Rudolfinum History

The Rudolfinum was designed by Czech architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulze. Built around 1884, it was named in honor of Rudolf of Hapsburg, Crown Prince of Austria. Although originally an art gallery the building was also used for multipurpose exhibits and cultural events. Between 1919 and 1938 the Rudolfinum even housed the Czechoslovak Parliament. In 1992 the building was completely renovated and became the home of the Czech Philharmonic and Galerie Rudolfinum.

Dvořák Hall
Dvořák Hall
Raqib Shaw – Widewalls
Raqib Shaw and Carlos Relvas

Galerie Rudolfinum focuses on contemporary art. Current exhibitions feature the works of London-based Kashmiri painter Raqib Shaw and Portuguese photographer Carlos Relvas (1838-1894). Raqib Shaw “pushes socially accepted norms with his homoerotic paintings that seduce and subvert”. He first came into the public eye in 2007 when his painting Garden of Earthly Delights III sold for $5.49 million at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale.

Carlos Relvas Photo
Carlos Relvas Photo
Carlos Relvas
Carlos Relvas
St Sebastian of the Poppies
St Sebastian of the Poppies

The exhibition Carlos Relvas: Objects of Eternity presents the photographer’s work in “seven thematic chapters: landscapes, architecture, portraits, on the farm, ships and shores, everyday life, and the artist’s studio”. Relvas created one of the most beautiful and elaborate photographic studios of his time. If you’re interested in his photography, this is a fun video.

Rudolfinum Exhibition Halls

There are five exhibition halls at the Rudolfinum including Dvořák and Suk. The Czech Philharmonic rents a number of these elegant spaces for a variety of public and private functions. Dvořák and Suk Halls have high-quality acoustics designed to accommodate orchestral performances.

Relvas Photo Studio

In January 1896 Antonín Dvořák himself conducted the Czech Philharmonic at Dvořák Hall’s very first concert! An imposing sculpture of Dvořák appears in the courtyard entrance to the Rudolfinum. During the summer tourists enjoy concerts at the Rudolfinum every evening beginning at 7:00 pm.

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