The Antonín Dvořák Music Festival can boast of a long tradition during which its organisers have managed to establish its position among top class cultural events of first-rate importance at its venues. It emerged in 1969 from the initiative of the Antonín Dvořák Society and the District Cultural Centre in Příbram, which was promised financial support at the time by the Czech Ministry of Culture. This support was by no means inconsiderable because it made it possible to invite such orchestras as the Czech Philharmonic, the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK of the Capital City of Prague, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic or the Film Symphony Orchestra. However many excellent orchestras from abroad also appeared at the festival during these years. Thus the people of Příbram could also become witnesses of top performances given, for example, by the Leningrad Philharmonic and the Moscow State Philharmonic. Last but not least, it also hosted the Warsaw State Philharmonic and London’s Royal Philharmonic with conductors Mark Ermler, Charles Groves, Arvids Jansons and Dimitri Kitayenko. However after 1989 the festival, like the entire cultural realm, underwent major organisational changes. In 1990 its organisation was taken over by the Theatre Příbram, where (perhaps) due to the lack of funds, the festival stagnated by holding only three to five concerts which were mostly devoted to chamber music.
Between the years of 1990 to 2000 the festival was organised by various entities. In 2001 it was taken over by the Department of Education and Culture of the Příbram Municipal Authority, or the Department of Education, Culture, Sport and Information Services which organised the festival until 2015 in cooperation with the festival’s committee headed by the composer’s grandson, Antonín Dvořák III. At this time, in 2012, the AD MF Příbram also became a member of the Czech Association of Music Festivals.
In an endeavour to systematically develop the festival in artistic and economic terms, the Příbram Municipal Authority proceeded in 2015 to transform the festival involving the transfer of the hosting and the licensing rights to a newly established non-profit organisation called Dvořákovo Příbramsko, z.ú. The organisation is headed by the existing programme director of the AD MF, Mgr. Albína Houšková, and Antonín Dvořák III acts again as the chairman of the administrative board.
The festival programme consists of an average of ten concerts and, apart from the works of Antonín Dvořák, its programme always includes the compositions of the 18th and 19th century masters as well as contemporary composers of the 20th and 21st century. The festival’s prestige is also confirmed by the interest of artists wanting to premiere their compositions or in some cases create a work especially for the theme of our festival. In 2015 the world premiere of the work by the English composer of Indian origin, Jonathan Mayer, “Hiawatha’s song”, based on the melodic line of Antonín Dvořák’s 9th Symphony “From the New World” was staged in Příbram and also the project “Spiritual Harmony”, linking the music of Antonín Dvořák to the texts of the Kralice Bible and other spiritual texts, as well as the Indian dance called Kathak, and a year earlier the world premiere was performed of the orchestral adaptation of Antonín Dvořák’s “Gypsy Songs” by Czech composer Sylvie Bodorová (performed by famous soprano Gabriela Beňačková).
The festival is accompanied by special events for children (an opera adapted and performed for children, etc.), and for the general public (open air events).
The popularity of festival concerts among audiences has increased due to many concerts staged in unusual but attractive spaces found not just in Příbram, but de facto covering the entire region of Příbram: at the Antonín Dvořák Memorial in the Neo-Renaissance chateau in Vysoká, Basilica of Svatá Hora (Holy Mount), Church of St. James the Greater, Ernestinum Chateau (Gallery of František Drtikol), Březnice Chateau, Dobříš Chateau, etc.
The Antonín Dvořák Music Festival has become firmly entrenched in the cultural awareness of the Příbram public and is gaining increasing respect in Czech musical circles. Proof of this comes in offers of collaboration with prominent Czech and foreign performers. Those artists, to name at least some in the most recent years involve G. Beňačková, E. Urbanová, D. Pecková, V. Hudeček, J. Svěcený, J. Bárta, I. Ženatý, A. Plachetka or K. Englichová. Of course, the objective of the festival remains to commemorate the valuable work of Master Antonín Dvořák and the endeavour to bring to the audience in Příbram, through a representative selection, the works of Czech and world classical music of previous centuries and the present. In addition, the festival also strives to inspire the creation of new works or projects, and educating the public of all generations.