The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra first performed at the Rudolfinum on January 4, 1896, conducted by Antonín Dvořák. After difficult beginnings the orchestra gradually found
its footing, becoming an integral part of the Czech cultural scene. During the first decades of the 20th century, eminent artists such as Gustav Mahler, Sergei Rachmaninov,
Edvard Grieg, Eugne Ysae and Pablo de Sarasate conducted the orchestra. The arrival of Václav Talich as Chief Conductor shortly after the end of World War I, was the start
of a new epoch in the orchestra’s history. Under his guidance the standard of the Czech Philharmonic rose to such an extent that it was soon recognised as one of the best
orchestras in Europe. Other fine conductors subsequently continued Talich’s work: Rafael Kubelík (1942 – 1948), Karel Ančerl (1950 –1968) and Václav Neumann (1968 – 1990).
During the 1990s the orchestra appointed Jiří Bělohlávek as Chief Conductor (1990 – 1992) and then Gerd Albrecht (1993 –1996). Afterwards, the Czech Philharmonic did not
have a permanent Chief Conductor but worked with permanent guest conductors: Vladimír Válek, Sir Charles Mackerras and Ken-ichiro Kobayashi. From 1st January 1998 until
the end of 2003 the orchestra was headed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, who introduced several unusual projects into the Philharmonic’s subscription programme. Zdeněk Mácal has
been appointed Chief Conductor for the 2003 – 2004 season.