Conductor Vaclav Smetácek may not be as well known as his contemporaries Rafael Kubelik or Vaclav Neumann, but he was one of the most conspicuous influential Czech musicians of the twentieth century. Born in Brno, Smetácek was an oboe player and founded the Prague Wind Quintet in 1928 and maintained his membership in that renowned chamber group until his retirement in 1955. His conducting career began in radio in 1933, leading what would become the Prague Symphony Orchestra in a number of radio concerts and in the making of soundtracks for motion pictures. In 1942, the Prague Radio Symphony moved into the position of being a full-fledged civic orchestra, and Smetácek was named its first conductor; he held onto this position until 1972. Afterward, he frequently appeared as a guest conductor until shortly before his death at age 79 in 1986. Smetácek was a very prolific recording artist and an expert in Czech music of all kinds, but he also recorded Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and many others, as well, most of it very skillfully and all of it for the Czech state labels Supraphon and Panton.
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