Jiří Bělohlávek CBE at the Last Night of the BBC Proms
Photograph: BBC / Christodoulou

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that Jiří Bělohlávek has died.

“It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Jiří Bělohlávek, Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic. Maestro Bělohlávek died last night following his brave struggle with a serious disease.”

Jiří Bělohlávek was also closely associated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Chief Conductor, 2006-12) and was recently in London to conduct Dvořák’s Requiem.

Paul Hughes, General Manager, BBC Symphony Orchestra:
"Jiří Bělohlávek’s last concert with his beloved BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus was Dvorak’s mighty Requiem Mass and a more fitting tribute to the music making of this extraordinary man it would be hard to imagine. His relationship with the BBCSO spanned 20 years, there are so many memories, but I would single out the pride with which he brought The BBC Symphony Orchestra to the Prague Spring Festival, when the orchestra gave him everything, and he produced award-winning performances and recordings of Czech operas and Martinu symphonies. There was always a sense of family with Jiří, we were his musical family and his family were our family, today we are thinking of his loved ones."

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms and BBC Orchestras and Choirs:
"Jiří Bělohlávek was a much loved conductor and his BBC Symphony Orchestra work will be remembered as a golden period, where he brought the orchestra to new discoveries, particularly of Czech music. He charmed BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms and concert audiences alike with the warm humanity which he brought to the music he gave us and we will long remember his Dvorak Requiem this year – a performance of characteristic humanity, it proved to be his last with the orchestra. We have so much for which to thank Jiří, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Sakari Oramo, Chief Conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra:
"I am devastated by the news that Jiri Bělohlávek, a wonderful musician and human being, has passed away after a brave fight against illness. I have admired Maestro Bělohlávek since my teens as one of the very finest conductors. From him I had the honour to inherit a wonderfully spirited BBC Symphony Orchestra, and it has been a constant joy to build upon the foundations that he had laid. Maestro Bělohlávek's legacy with the orchestra will live very long after him. My condolences go out to his nearest family, as well as to all musicians who loved and cherished working with him, be it in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra or anywhere in the musical world."

Jiří Bělohlávek was born on 24 February 1946.


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