PRAGUE — Libor Pešek, a Czech classical music conductor best-known for leading the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for a decade, has died. He was 89.
Pešek died on Sunday, said Jan Hasenöhrl, the director of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra where Pešek was a chief conductor till 2019.
Pešek worked with several orchestras at home and abroad. He was a great supporter of music from Czech composers, above all Josef Dvořák’s pupil and son-in-law Josef Suk. His recordings and concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic contributed to making Suk’s music known worldwide.
“It happened primarily because the time was right for presenting unknown pieces in Britain, even Czech pieces, and also it was still a right time to make some recordings,” he once said in an interview for Czech public radio.
Pešek was principal conductor in Liverpool in 1987–97, becoming conductor laureate thereafter. Under his charge, the northern English orchstra was dubbed “the best Czech Orchestra this side of Prague.”
He was made Knight Commander of the British Empire during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Prague in 1996.
Born June 22, 1933, in Prague, Pešek studied conducting, piano, cello and trombone at Prague’s Academy of Music and Arts before embarking on an international conducting career that lasted more than 50 years.
He led several orchestras in the Netherlands during the 1970s and headed the Slovak Philharmonic and was conductor in residence of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1980s. Later he was principal guest conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.