Bennewitz Quartet

24. 2. 2024 | Spanish synagogue


This evening is organized in cooperation with the Jewish Museum in Prague.


Pavel Haas - String Quartet No. 2 "Z opičích hor"
                 1. věta - Krajina - Andante
                 2. věta - Kočár, kočí a kůň - Andante
                 3. věta - Měsíc a já - Largo e misterioso
                 4. věta - Divá noc - Vivace e con fuoco

The winning composition of the competition


Bedřich Smetana – String Quartet No. 1 e moll "Z mého života" 
                         1. věta - Allegro vivo appassionato
                         2. věta - Allegro moderato a la Polka
                         3. věta - Largo sostenuto
                         4. věta - Vivace

One of the highlights of Pavel Haas's compositional work, String Quartet No. 2 "From the Monkey Mountains" ("Monkey Mountains" is slang for the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands) will be heard in contrast to the 2024 birthday boy Bedřich Smetana, whose String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" stands at the pinnacle of world quartet literature. New to the festival in 2024 is an international composition competition. The winning composition of this contest will be performed at the Bennewitz Quartet concert.

The Bennewitz Quartet ranks among the top of the international chamber scene. After winning two prestigious competitions the Osaka Chamber Music and Festa 2005 and the Prémio Paolo Borciani, Italy 2008 they quickly gained critical acclaim. The ensemble has won numerous awards, and in 2019 the quartet of musicians won the Classic Prague Award for the best chamber performance of the year.

In the 2022/23 season, the Bennewitz Quartet returned to Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Mozartfest Würzburg, Wigmore Hall London, and Stadtcasino Basel, and again toured the United States of America. The ensemble represented the Czech Republic in Madrid at the closing ceremony on the occasion of the end of the country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. The quartet also took part in a complete performance of Béla Bartók's six quartets in Leuven, Belgium, and continued its engagement as part of the Dvořák Prague Festival with a complete performance of Dvořák's string quartets. The ensemble is currently preparing the release of a new CD of Joseph Haydn’s string quartets.

Since 1998, the quartet has been named after Antonín Bennewitz (1833-1926), a violinist and director of the Prague Conservatory of Music, who was instrumental in establishing the Czech violin school. His pupils included Otakar Ševčík and František Ondříček, and above all Karel Hoffman, Josef Suk, and Oskar Nedbal, who under Bennewitz’s influence formed the famous Czech Quartet.

Pavel Haas (1899–1944) is the author of three string quartets. He created the first one in 1920 while still studying with Leoš Janáček in Brno, the third in 1936. String Quartet No. 2 dates to 1925 and is subtitled "From the Monkey Mountains", referencing a popular name for the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. For the first performance of the quartet, Haas formulated the inspirations that guided him in the composition. He identified movement and rhythm as the main element of music, whether it is the undulations perceived when looking at the vast landscape (1st movement), the irregular humming and screeching of a wagon driving along a dirt road (2nd movement), the apparent immobility of a moonlit night in which the human heart beats (3rd movement), or a night spent in debauchery (4th movement). In the original version, Haas joined the string quartet with a set of percussion instruments, which further accentuated the rhythmic elements borrowed from the dance music of the time; in the edited version he left out the drum set. The work premiered on March 16, 1925, performed by the Moravian Quartet.

The winning composition of the composition competition

In the autumn of 1874, Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884) lost his hearing and had to leave his position as conductor in the Provisional Theatre. However, after futile attempts to heal himself, he came to terms with his fate so much that he composed his most important works in the next ten years of his life. He composed String Quartet No. 1 in E minor with the subtitle "From My Life" in 1876 (completedon December 29). The piece was initially misunderstood due to its supposedly too "orchestral" character. Smetana wrote to his friend Josef Srb-Debrnov that he had no intention of writing a "quartet according to the recipe and the usual forms", because - as is the case with his other compositions - "the work creates its own form". The further development of chamber music confirmed Smetana's concept of treating four stringed instruments. After the initial rejection by the Association for the Cultivation of Chamber Music, the composer did not receive a public performance of the work until three years later, on March 29, 1879, at the Concert of Artists in the Konvikt hall in Prague, the performers were Ferdinand Lachner and members of the orchestra of the Provisional Theater – Jan Pelikán, Josef Krehan, and Alois Neruda. "In all the fields wherein Smetana hath hitherto composed, he is also in this domain of chamber music a wholly new, original, and Bohemian composer, standing upon a modern position of musical creation founded on the basis of poetic imagination," wrote Dalibor magazine. The autobiographical background of the work is obvious, after all, the composer himself communicated it. The first movement expresses an innate affection for art, a romantic mood and longing, as well as a premonition of future misfortune. The polka in the second movement is a reminiscence of youth, while the middle part of the movement is "a reminder of the aristocratic circles in which I lived for many years," wrote Smetana. The third movement recalls his love for Kateřina Kolářová, who later became the composer's wife. The final movement describes "the understanding of the nature of national music". The music leads to a turning point, to the catastrophe of deafness, heralded by the insistent sounding note of the three-dash "e." Abroad, the work was promoted by the Czech Quartet and other ensembles followed suit.

Festival partners

Realizováno ve spolupráci s Národním divadlem v rámci projektu Musica non grata s podporou Velvyslanectví Spolkové republiky Německo Praha

Musica non grata

General Partner


Festival Partners

Ministerstvo kultury ČR
Státní fond kultury


Městská část Praha 1
Hotel Rott

Ve spolupráci

Polský institut Praha

Záštitu převzali

Ministerstvo pro místní rozvoj ČR
ministryně pro místní rozvoj, 
paní Klára Dostálová
Ministerstvo kultury
ministr kultury, 
pan Lubomír Zaorálek
Poslanecká sněmovna Parlamentu České republiky
předseda Poslanecké sněmovny Parlamentu ČR,
pan Radek Vondráček
Senát Parlamentu České republiky
předseda Senátu Parlamentu ČR, pan Miloš Vystrčil
Senát parlamentu ČR
předseda Senátu Parlamentu ČR,
pan Miloš Vystrčil
Velvyslanectví Spolkové republiky Německo Praha
Velvyslanec SRN v Praze,
Dr. Christoph Israng
Ustavni soud
předseda Ústavního soudu, 
pan Pavel Rychetský
Ústecký kraj
hejtman Ústeckého kraje, 
pan Jan Schiller
ministryně pro místní rozvoj, paní Klára Dostálová
Ministerstvo kultury ČR
náměstek ministra kultury,
 pan Milan Němeček

Media Partners

Český rozhlas D-dur

Partner of the lecture on 1/3/2023

Winternitz villa

Partner of the concert on 8/3/2023

Stadler-trierNKČRCharitaAlzheimer Home Pitkovice

Concert on 21. 2. 2024 under the auspices of
U.S. Embassy in The Czech Republic

US Embassy

Partner of the concert on 24. 2. 2024
Jewish Museum in Prague

Židovské muzeum

Partner of the concert on 14. 3. 2024
National Library of the Czech Republic

Národní knihovna České republiky

Partner of the concert on 27. 3. 2024
C. Bechstein Pianocentrum Prague

C. Bechstein

The concert on 21. 4. is held in cooperation
with Volman Villa

Volmanova vila

Thank you to

members of the Supporters Club
Personal Connect s.r.o.

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Contact e-mail: info@vecnanadeje.org
+420 721 585 178 (Irma Mrázková, director of the festival)