One of the leading Czech-born conductors of the new millennium, Zdenek Mácal was appointed chief conductor of his native country's premiere orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, in 2002. Although his involvement in America grew enormously following his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1972, and he acquired United States citizenship in 1992, the position in Prague represented a return to musical roots. His intense, often fiery interpretations have attracted many admirers. After beginning violin studies with his father at age four, Mácal attended the Brno Conservatory from 1951 to 1956 and the Janácek Academy of Music, from which he graduated in 1960 with highest honors. From 1963 to 1967, he served as conductor of the Moravian Philharmonic. During that period he won both the Besançon International Conducting Competition in France (1965) and the Mitropoulos Competition in New York (1966). During the latter year, he was guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic during the orchestra's European tour. In 1968, his promising career in his native country was halted when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. Mácal left the country, serving the Cologne Radio Symphony as chief conductor from 1970 to 1974 while pursuing other guest opportunities that eventually led to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. After a year as principal guest conductor, he was appointed music director in 1986. During his tenure in Milwaukee, he also won respect for his performances as principal conductor at Chicago's Grant Park Summer Festival and held conducting positions with Australia's Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. After having been engaged as the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra's artistic advisor in 1992, Mácal accepted the position of music director there in 1993. He simultaneously served in Milwaukee and New Jersey until 1996, when he resigned the former position to devote himself to his newest post and guest appearances. Since his first appearance in America, Mácal has conducted most of the major orchestras in North America as well as many in Europe and the Far East. He has been a frequent guest at international festivals, Athens, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Montreux, Prague, Vienna, and Zurich among them. Aside from miscellaneous discs for various labels, Mácal recorded several for Delos during his New Jersey years ending in 2002, and left an extensive recorded legacy of his Milwaukee tenure on the Koss label.
Zdenek Mácal Biography
by Erik Eriksson