Meet artist-in-residence Josef Špaček

The Czech violinist and once-upon-a-time child prodigy Josef Špaček served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for ten years and has won many awards. This season he is the artist-in-residence at Amare.

Text: Residentie Orkest Magazine

Josef Špaček (1986) was never previously associated with the Residentie Orkest, but there will be ample opportunities to admire this performer as the artist-in-residence of the Residentie Orkest, Royal Conservatoire and Amare. The violinist very much looks forward to the collaboration: “It is a wide-ranging role, and it’s a real privilege for me to present myself to the public in so many different ways. Both the orchestra and the audience are new to me, and I can’t wait to get acquainted.”

Personal top three violin concertos 

Josef brings with him the violin concertos of Dvořák, Beethoven and Berg, which make up his favourite top three.  The recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto was met with international acclaim; it was even named as the ‘Recording of the Week’ by The Sunday Times. “Dvořák feels very familiar, his music is almost like second nature to me. Berg’s violin concerto hasn’t been part of my repertoire for very long, but it’s a real gem. But the number one for me remains Beethoven’s violin concerto, it’s a masterpiece that I keep returning to.”

In addition to solo performances with the Residentie Orkest, Josef will perform a recital in the Conservatoriumzaal and give master classes to students of the Royal Conservatoire. “I like to work with young people and have been teaching for as long as I can remember. At home in Prague I have a number of private students and each summer you can find me in Horažďovice, a beautiful old town in Czechia, where I teach students of the Ševčík Academy.”

Youngest orchestra member

Josef first picked up a violin at the age of 3, and soon turned out to be a musical prodigy. Music came to him very naturally, with a father who played the cello in the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Josef has a well-stuffed award cabinet. He won the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition multiple times and was a finalist in the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in 2012.

Even before graduating from the Juillard School in New York in 2011, where he was tutored by Itzhak Perlman, he was appointed concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. He was not only the youngest concertmaster ever, but even the youngest orchestra member. “I had a wonderful time there, but it was difficult to combine with my solo and chamber music performances.” He is happy to also have experienced that side of being a musician. “As a soloist you are an einzelgänger in many respects. I miss the social aspects of being an orchestra member, but I certainly don’t miss all the meetings and administrative obligations that came with my position.”

A special offer 

Five years ago, Josef received an unexpected phone call from a Czech violinist, living in the Netherlands. “He had found me via YouTube and asked whether I would be willing to play on his Guarneri del Gesù violin, from 1732. I didn’t need to think long about that, of course.” Shortly afterwards, Josef visited the Netherlands for a performance in Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg music centre. “The day before the concert, I first held the Guarneri. It was love at first sight, and so I decided to play it directly the next day, which was a live recording for radio. I’ll never forget that concert, and ever since I’ve played this violin. Our ‘relationship’ began on Dutch soil, which is reason enough for me to enjoy coming back here.” 

"He is one of the most fascinating performing artists today. It is very impressive how he is able to lift the notes of a wide array of composers from the score and to translate these into personal and honest stories.” 

  • Sven Arne Tepl, general and artistic director Residentie Orkest

Josef Špaček in Amare:

Bruckner 7

Residentie Orkest

Fri 3 May ’24 / 20:15 - 22:35

Weekend van… Josef Špaček

Trio Zimbalist

Met onze artist in residence
Sat 3 Feb ’24 / 20:15 - 21:50

The weekend of... Josef Špaček

Josef Špaček & Miroslav Sekera

With our artist in residence
Fri 2 Feb ’24 / 20:15 - 21:45

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