The esteemed Czech conductor, Zdeněk Mácal, celebrated for his leadership of notable orchestras, has left the stage of life at 87.
A Classical Beginning: Early Years and Triumphs
Hailing from Brno, Czech Republic, Mácal’s musical odyssey began on the notes of a violin, tutored first by his father. This early tutelage extended to jazz tunes, as he accompanied his father’s ensemble. As his passion grew, so did his educational pursuits. The Brno Conservatory and the revered Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts shaped him. The accolades were swift. Between 1965 and 1966, he clinched victories at the Besançon International Conducting Competition and the Dimitri Mitropoulos International Music Competition in New York.
Navigating Adversity: From Prague to Germany
The tumultuous events of 1968, as Soviet armies clashed with the Prague Spring movement, saw Mácal relocating his family from Czechoslovakia to West Germany. This move led him to the conductor’s podium at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and subsequent engagements with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and NDR Orchestra Hanover.
American Sojourn: A New Chapter
America soon beckoned, and Mácal responded. His inaugural performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra marked the beginning of a prolific chapter. His career flourished further, with significant tenures at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. It was here that he channeled his deep connection to Antonín Dvořák, resulting in a GRAMMY-winning cycle of the composer’s works.
The New Jersey Symphony stated, “We mourn the loss of our former music director, Zdeněk Mácal. Under his stewardship, we experienced a surge in commissions and premieres, and most notably, the acclaimed recordings of Antonín Dvořák’s oeuvre.”
As the curtains fall, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.