American Spring Festival 2017

Follow 2017 American Pianists Awards winner Drew Petersen's tour of the Czech Republic as he performed for the American Spring Festival!

Updated June 7, 2017 at 12:59pm ET.

The American Spring Festival is organized by the Institute for Czech-American Relations. The festival hosts mostly young American and Czech musicians at the beginning of their careers. Apart from concerts of classical and jazz music, the festival also offers lectures, master classes, movie screenings and exhibitions.

The American Pianists Association has collaborated with the festival for over 10 years. 2007 American Pianists Awards winner Dan Tepfer has visited many times and composed original works for symphonic wind band and piano. Other partners include the US Embassy in Prague, The Band of Castle Guards and the Czech Police, Václav Havel Library, The National Film Archive and American Friends of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C.

June 1: Nelahozeves Castle

Zámek Nelahozeves in the Czech Republic
Zámek Nelahozeves, Czech Republic

The first stop on Drew’s Czech adventure was Nelahozeves, a town just north of Prague and notable as the birthplace of 19th-century composer Antonín Dvořák. Drew performed a concert at Nelahozeves Castle, originally a fortress and later a Renaissance chateau.

Construction on Nelahozeves Castle began under the orders of Florian Griesbeck von Griesbach, an aristocrat and adviser to Emperor Ferdinand I. The castle took more than sixty years to build and was completed at the beginning of the 17th century, more than a decade after Florian's death. The House of Lobkowicz purchased the castle in 1623, but the castle never served as the Lobkowicz family’s primary residence; it served various purposes until it was confiscated by the Communist government in 1948. It was returned to the Lobkowicz family in 1993 and now features a museum and gallery demonstrating the lifestyle of a Bohemian noble family in the 19th century.

June 2: Dobříš

Day two of the festival was spent in Dobříš , a small 13th-century town near Prague with about 8,600 inhabitants. It is the second largest town in Příbram District, located 40 km south of Prague.

The organizer is the municipal Cultural Center, and the welcoming town holds attractions including the Rococo style Dobříš Chateau and surrounding forests that entice hikers and cyclists. Also of note: Karel Čapek, the novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and essayist who introduced the world to the word robot, lived nearby.


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June 4: Písek

Pisek Stone Bridge - credit Richenza Wikimedia Commons
Pisek Stone Bridge - credit Richenza - Wikimedia Commons

Písek is a middle-sized town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It has a population of about 30,000 people. The town is home to the Czech Republic’s oldest bridge, a stone structure from the 13th century.

Officials from the American Spring Festival describe Pisek: “a very lively cultural place with a university-like atmosphere and a very prestigious film academy. Concerts take place in a nice concert hall that was formerly a chapel. The local organizer, the municipal Cultural Center, has participated in the festival since the very beginning.”

Drew Petersen and Eva Vanžurová

June 5: Hranice na Moravě

Hranice is a town in Monrovia in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, over three-hours' drive from Prague. The town, sometimes informally called Hranice na Moravě (literally, "Hranice in Moravia"), to distinguish from other places with the same name, has participated in the American Spring Festival intermittently from the beginning. The audience is very festive and appreciative.

Of note: the world’s deepest underwater cave is located nearby!

June 6: Prague

On a day scheduled for a performance at the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren, Drew Petersen first stopped by the studios of Czech Radio/Radio Praha for an interview. American Pianists Awards winners have appeared on air many times in the past--most recently last summer when 2015 Awards winner Sullivan Fortner spoke about his participation in the American Spring Festival and playing gigs with a Czech trio. 


June 7: Liberec

Liberec is a city in northern Bohemia located on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge. Currently the third largest city in the Czech Republic, the city gained great importance in the 19th century and has a spectacular collection of late-19th-century buildings including the town hall, the opera house and the Severočeské Muzeum.

From Festival organizers, “In recent years, the festival offered several events in the local recently built Regional Research Library, but this year we will present Drew's concert in the Basic Art School. The network of public Basic Art Schools offers education in music, dance, and graphic arts, and we have cooperated with them very successfully.”

Drew Petersen's performances in the 2017 American Spring Festival included works by Beethoven, Barber, Chopin and Ravel. We look forward to hearing some of those pieces stateside this summer. In the interim, we thank the American Spring Festival and the citizens for the Czech Republic for being such welcoming hosts, and we are excited to share the music of future American Pianists Awards with you in the coming years.

Na shledanou!


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