Kout, Jirí

views updated

Kout, Jiří

Kout, Jiří, Czech conductor; b. Novedvory, Dec. 26, 1937. He received training in organ and conducting at the Cons. and the Academy of Music in Prague. In 1964 he became a conductor at the Plzeň Opera. His protest of the Warsaw Pact invasion of his homeland in 1968 led the Czech authorities to ban him from conducting. However, in 1973, he was allowed to resume his career with an engagement at the Prague National Theater. In 1976 he emigrated to West Germany and became a conductor at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. From 1985 to 1991 he was Generalmusikdirektor of the Saarländisches Staatstheater in Saarbrücken; also appeared as a guest conductor of opera houses in Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Venice, Florence, Paris, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. From 1991 he was a regular conductor at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin; that same year, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. conducting Der Rosenkavalier. In 1993 he conducted Jenůfa at London’s Covent Garden. In 1993 he became music director of the Leipzig Opera and in 1996 of the St. Gallen Orch. He conducted a Ring cycle at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 1997. In addition to his idiomatic interpretations of the operas of Smetana, Dvořák, and Janáček, Kout has acquired a distinguished reputation for his performances of operas by Wagner and Strauss.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire