The Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra

The Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in Europe. It was founded in 1835 by the composer, violinist and conductor Josef Labitzky as a seasonal spa ensemble. Forty years later, Labitzky’s son August turned it into a permanent symphony orchestra with a varied repertoire. The most important event in the orchestra’s history was the continental premiere of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony on 20 July 1894.

It is impossible to name all the important personalities who were and are connected with the Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra. Let us at least mention the violinist and conductor Robert Manzer, thanks to whom the orchestra established excellent relations with important personalities of European music, including Pablo Casals and Richard Strauss. The orchestra has been accompanied by renowned conductors Jiří Bělohlávek, Dean Dixon, Aram Khachaturjan, Zdeněk Košler, Charles Mackerras, Libor Pešek, Petr Altrichter, Leoš Svárovský, pianists Emil Gilels, Ivan Moravec, Ivan Klánský, Ivo Kahánek and violinist David Oistrach, Václav Hudeček, Gidon Kremer, Josef Suk, Jiří Vodička, Pavel Šporcl or Ivan Ženatý, cellists Mstislav Rostropovič, Jiří Bárta or Michaela Fukačová, harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, singers Magdalena Hajóssyová, Eva Urbanová, Adam Plachetka and others.

Among the permanent conductors, Václav Neumann, later chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Vladimír Matěj, Josef Hercl and Radomil Eliška have contributed significantly to the ensemble’s profile. Their legacy was continued in 1991–1998 by the Englishman Douglas Bostock, who recorded numerous CDs with the orchestra. Prof. Jiří Stárek was the chief conductor from 2004 to 2009. Since July 2011, the orchestra has been led by French conductor Martin Lebel. From September 2015 to February 2021 the orchestra worked under the direction of Jan Kučera, and from the 2022/2023 season Ondřej Vrabec took over the position of Chief Conductor.

At present, in addition to the summer promenade concerts that are an inherent part of the spa town, the orchestra offers regular subscription cycles and numerous exceptional projects to lovers of great music. The orchestra has accompanied many stars of pop and rock music (Aneta Langerová, 4tet, Ewa Farna, Dasha, Jaroslav Uhlíř, Lucie Bílá, Michal Hrůza, Olympic, Radka Fišarová, Čechomor, Michal Prokop and others). The orchestra traditionally participates in the opening of the spa season in Karlovy Vary, cooperates with the Karlovy Vary Jazz Festival and the prestigious International Antonín Dvořák Vocal Competition.

The KSO organises two music festivals: one of the oldest music festivals in Europe, Dvořák’s Karlovy Vary Autumn, and Beethoven Days, which commemorates the composer’s stay in Karlovy Vary.

The KSO also regularly engages with the youngest generation: educational concerts are attended by about 5,000 children from the entire Karlovy Vary Region, and the orchestra cooperates annually in projects with pupils of primary art schools, including regular cooperation in the ZUŠ Open happening.

Every season the orchestra organises projects for families with children and unconventional concerts in public places.

The Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra has always been one of the pillars of culture in Karlovy Vary.


To this date we have organized for you 1279 Concerts