Josef Suk (violinist)

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Josef Suk (1957)

Josef Suk (8 August 1929 – 7 July 2011[1]) was a Czech violinist, violist, chamber musician and conductor, the grandson of Josef Suk, the composer and violinist, and great-grandson of Antonín Dvořák. In his home country he carried the title of National Artist.

Early life[edit]

Suk's talent was spotted at an early age by Jaroslav Kocián, who tutored him until his death in 1950. Suk first appeared on concert platforms at the age of eleven. His Prague debut in 1954 rapidly led to an international career. Before long he was recognized as the heir to the best tradition of the Czech violin school and his 1959 tour with the Czech Philharmonic covered three continents. He also studied at the Prague Conservatory with Kocián and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Later career[edit]

Suk had a distinguished solo career. His career as a concert violinist started in 1954, and he gave concerts all over the world at prestigious music festivals. He reached his greatest success in the United States and Canada. He also formed the Suk Chamber Orchestra in 1974.

Suk showed an extraordinary affinity for chamber music. This yielded extraordinary fruits, especially through his partnerships with pianist Jan Panenka and the harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková - and from 1973 he was a frequent additional player with the Smetana Quartet, playing second viola. Suk was also for some years the first violin of the Prague Quartet. He founded the Suk Trio (named after his grandfather) in 1951 with Jan Panenka and cellist Josef Chuchro

He became a distinguished violist, having recorded Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra as violist with Iona Brown and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Josef Suk had a long and distinguished career in the recording studio, winning the Grand Prix du Disque six times: including in 1960 for recordings of the Leoš Janáček and Claude Debussy violin sonatas, and in 1968 for the Alban Berg violin concerto. He also won the Wiener Flötenuhr Prize and the Edison Prize. In 2002 he became a member of the Legion of Honour.[2]

He was a sponsor, with Vladimir Ashkenazy, of Toccata Classics for whom he recorded "Songs my great-grandfather taught me".

He was esteemed for his refined tone, deep sense of lyricism (expressed unforgettably for example in his Martinů interpretations) and commitment to the music he played.

Notable instruments[edit]

Suk played on rare instruments built by Antonio Stradivari (Libon Stradavarius, 1729),[3] Giuseppe Guarneri "del Gesu" (1744) and Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1758).


Josef Suk died on 7 July 2011, aged 81, after a long illness. He had been suffering from prostate cancer as well.[4]

Selected discography (violin)[edit]

  • J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos - Supraphon Records
  • Bach: Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin - Lotos
  • Beethoven: Concerto for violin in D; Dvořák: Concerto for violin in A minor - BBC Radio Classic
  • Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 - Praga Records
  • Berg: Concerto for violin - Supraphon
  • Bartók: Concerto for violin No. 1 - Supraphon
  • Brahms: Concerto, Op. 77; Concerto, Op. 102 - Praga
  • Brahms: Concerto, Op. 77; Concerto, Op. 102 - Praga
  • Brahms: Piano Trios and Violin Sonatas with Julius Katchen (piano) and Janos Starker (cello) - Decca Records
  • Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73; Concerto in A minor, Op. 102 - Supraphon
  • Brahms: Symphony No. 2/Double Concerto - Supraphon
  • Chausson: Concerto for violin, piano & String Quartet; Fauré: Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Piano - Supraphon
  • Dvořák: Concerto for violin in A minor - Supraphon
  • Dvořák: Piano Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 - Supraphon
  • Dvořák: Quartet Op. 51 / Sextet Op. 48 - Lotos Records
  • Dvořák: Quintet in E-flat; Quintet No. 1 - Denon Records
  • Dvořák: Trio No. 1; Trio No. 2 - Denon Records
  • Dvořák: Violin Concerto; Romance; Josef Suk: Fantasy - Supraphon
  • Dvořák: Works for Violin and Piano - Supraphon
  • Janáček: Complete works for Violin, Cello and Piano - Carlton Classics
  • Janáček: Sinfonietta, Op. 60; Taras Bulba, rhapsody - Supraphon
  • Kodály: Musique de chambre - Praga
  • Martinů: Sonata for violin No. 3; Madrigal Stanzas H.297 - Supraphon
  • Mendelssohn: Concerto for violin in E minor; Bruch: Concerto for violin in G minor - Supraphon
  • Mozart: Quintets - Denon Records
  • Mozart: Sinfonia concertante in E-flat; Sinfonia concertante in E-flat - Panton Records
  • Ravel: Sonatas for Violin and Piano; Sonata for Violin and Cello; Tzigane - Praga
  • Schubert: String Quartet No. 1, D.87/String Quintet in C, Op. 163, D.956 Praga
  • Suk: Piano Quintets, Opp. 1 & 8 - Lotos
  • Suk: Piano Trio; Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet - Supraphon
  • Karel Ančerl Golden Edition No. 8. CD Supraphon: Praha 2002. SU 3668-2


External links[edit]