Posted 20 May 2011
The Prague Spring International Music Festival is one of the world's most prestigious showcases for classical and opera music. Symphony orchestras, chamber music ensembles as well as individual performing artists from all over the world participate at the festival, held annually from mid-May through early June in the Czech capital of Prague. Running concurrently is the Prague Spring International Music Competition, which focuses on younger musicians.

Started in 1946, the Festival was the brainchild of Rafael Kubelik, chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary at the time. World War II had ended a year earlier, and Czech President Edvard Benes welcomed the opportunity to celebrate, as did the war-weary Czech people.

The festival's primary venue has been the Rudolfinum concert hall, famed for its neo-Renaissance architecture. The Prague Municipal House, which has more seating capacity, is also utilised, and traditionally hosts the opening ceremonies. Other Prague venues host various concerts, recitals and operas, including the National Theatre, the Vysehrad Cemetery, the Lichtenstein Palace and the Church of Our Lady before Týn. With an age limit of 30 years and under, the Music Competition features renowned young musicians and conductors in every symphonic instrumentation and grouping, as well as young vocalists from around the world. Prague Spring also hosts a respected conductor's competition for promising baton-wielders. Such notable performers as Maurice Bourgue, James Galway and Natalia Gutman are past winners in the Music Competition.

2011 marks the 65th edition of the festival, and continues the tradition of excellence which has made Prague Spring one of contemporary classical music's signature events. A highlight of the 2011 festival promises to be the performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, (The Symphony of A Thousand). The performance is part of a commemorative tribute to the 100th anniversary of the legendary Austrian composer-conductor's death in 1911. More than 400 performers are involved in the presentation, including many of the world's pre-eminent musicians.

Some of the noted international performers scheduled to appear at the 65th Prague Spring are conductors Sir Simon Rattle and Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as celebrated violinist Lisa Batiashvilli. If you are planning on making the trip to this music festival and need a hotel, check out the Jurys Inn hotels in Prague.

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