Ančerl, Karel

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ANČERL, KAREL (1908–1973), conductor. He studied composition and conducting at the Prague Conservatory with J. Křička and A. Habá, and finally became a pupil of V. Talich and H. Scherchen. He conducted at the theater (1931–33), the Symphony Orchestra of Prague Radio (1933–39), and also performed in festivals abroad. Forbidden to work by the Nazis, Ančerl was sent to Theresienstadt, were he played as a violinist and conducted a camp orchestra. In 1944 he conducted the premiere of Pavel Hass's Study for string orchestra. In late 1944 he was transported to Auschwitz. He was the only member of his family to survive the concentration camps. After the war, he dedicated all his efforts to renewing the musical life of Prague. In 1945 he was appointed conductor at the opera, resumed his post at the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (1947–50), and held a post as professor at the Prague Academy (1948–51). He took over the directorship of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (1950–68) and in spite of the Communist constraints he restored its international fame. Ančerl received the State Prize (1958) and was named National Artist (1966). While he was conducting in Tanglewood, the Russians invaded Prague. Ančerl immigrated to Canada and took over the leadership of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a post he retained, despite ill health, until his death. He was held in great esteem for his idiomatic interpretations of music from his homeland and his remarkable insight into masterworks of the 20th century. He made many recordings, which reflect his concentration, reflection, intuition, and musical warmth.


Grove Dictionary (2001); mgg2; Baker's Biographical Dictionary (1997); T. Potter, "Time's Arrow: Karel Ančerl (1908–73)," in: Gramophone, 81 (Aug. 2003), 30–31.

[Naama Ramot ((2nd ed.)]

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