The FOK Mystery Solved!
Opus Osm's Zuzana Sklenková discovers the orchestra behind the enigmatic acronym
This article originally appeared in Opus Osm, the free-of-charge, paperless daily magazine about Czech classical music, opera, and ballet, published in Prague for an international audience.
As you travel around Prague you might be surprised to see several FOK posters. Especially when you’re on a metro station escalator moving past the poster, it’s hard to catch enough details to understand what the FOK is all about.
It turns out FOK is the Czech abbreviation for the Prague Symphony Orchestra (Symfonický orchestr hlavního města Prahy). It’s one of the three major ensembles you can hear in Prague, particularly if you find yourself in either Smetana Hall at the Municipal House, or in the Church of St. Jude and Šimon, the orchestra’s main venues.
Founded in 1934 during the Depression by conductor Rudolf Pekárek, it had a modest lineup of 25 musicians. Their first big break came the same year: FOK signed a contract to record live broadcasts for the Radiožurnál station. Later the ensemble managed to succeed in the film industry, producing music for Czech films -- in total, 234 movies.
So even today on Czech-language posters, this classical music ensemble is usually presented by its original name, the letters FOK, or Film, Opera, Koncert.
By undertaking so many commercial activities, the orchestra gained recognition that allowed it to play more classical fare at public concerts. The competition in concert halls was tough in the 1930s, and FOK had to stand up to two older, more recognized rivals: the Czech Philharmonic and the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Thanks to the young conductor Václav Smetáček, FOK succeded in establishing itself as a symphonic orchestral body. Smetáček included not only famous Czech composers like Dvořák and Smetana on the program, but also introduced listeners to contemporary composers such as Pavel Bořkovec and jazz musician Jaroslav Ježek.
Seven years after the end of World War II, FOK finally became the City of Prague’s official representative orchestra. Its new status guaranteed it financial support and stability. As a result, the orchestra embarked on a succession of world tours and professional recordings that continue to this day.
And FOK still remains part of its name.
Over the years, many famous conductors have directed this ensemble, including Rafael Kubelík, Václav Talich, and Jiří Bělohlávek. The current conductor, Jiří Kout, assumed the post of the chief conductor in the 2006-2007 season.
The orchestra has also collaborated with foremost soloists, such as singers Ivan Kusnjer and Eva Urbanová, and world-renown cellist Mischa Maisky.
Video on YouTube
Malá Inventura celebrates new theater by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
New productions and new trends are in the 15th edition of the festival
Opera review: Viva La Mamma by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Comic staging of an obscure work is aimed at a new generation
Divadlo na Vinohradech to be renovated by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The theater at náměstí Míru will be closed for a complete overhaul
Army Museum at Žižkov to get renovated by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Prague.eu)
Building will be closed for three years for large expansion
National Theatre presents a new staging of Tosca by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The classic opera is back with an updated but subtle production
Prague 1 plans gold pavilion for Mucha paintings by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: arpema.cz)
City Hall and the Prague 1 district have conflicting ideas for the Slav Epic
Plácido Domingo will conduct Don Giovanni by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Raymond Johnston)
Two special performances will mark the 230th anniversary of the premiere in Prague
Live simulcast of Amadeus coming to Aero and Oko by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The play that inspired the film is currently on the stage in London
Prime minister inspects National Museum progress by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: nm.cz)
The museum should partially open to the public in October 2018
Czech-Chinese dance work to premiere at Archa by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Divadlo Archa)
Ordinary People finds similar life stories in dancers from different countries
Great online exchange rates - 0% commission - collect at...
Don’t miss out on historical low Czech mortgage rates!
Feel the rhythm and party to the biggest hits of the 80’s!
Uncover the unique story behind the Staropramen brewery in...
First diamonds museum in Prague
Trabant Museum @ STK Motol
Armádní muzeum Žižkov
Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády