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Karel Kovařovic

(*9. 12. 1862 Prague †6. 12. 1920 Prague)

Czech conductor and composer

He studied clarinet, harp, piano at the Prague Conservatory, as well as singing privately. He also later studied composition with Zdeněk Fibich from 1879 to 1882. From 1879 to 1885, he was a harpist in the Provisional Orchestra of the National Theatre in Prague. From 1885 to 1886, he was a conductor in Brno, and later in Pilsen from 1886 to 1887. From 1890, he worked as a répétitor of the Pivoda School of Singing, and later became director of this school from 1808-1900. In 1895, he founded and conducted the Orchestra of the Ethnographical Exposition in Prague. Here he attracted attention as a conductor and later became the chief of Opera of the National Theatre in Prague from 1900 to 1920, where he applied many modern interpretation methods and created an ensemble of outstanding qualities. As a conductor and composer he was orientated toward a French and Italian repertoire. He also interpreted Czech music including the works of Smetana, Dvořák, Fibich, Foerster, Ostrčil, Novák, Křička and others. In 1916, he premiered Janáček´s famous Jenůfa, but with his own corrections (with the consent of author). He performed the Czech premieres of Wagner´s operas such as Tristan and Isolde, Parsifal, The Rheingold, Walkyre, Strauss´s Electra and Rose Cavalier, Charpentier´s Louise and Julien, Musorgsky´s opera Boris Godunov and others. In 1919, he embarked on an important tour of the National Theatre´s Orchestra to London and Paris. As a composer he created orchestral works, scenic musics, ballets as well as several successful operas including Fiancés (1884), The Way throut the Window (Cesta oknem) (1886), The Night of Šimon and Juda (1892), The Dogheads/Psohlavci (1898), At the Old Bleach (1901) and others. His parody of opera Edip King (1894) was performed by many amateur ensembles.