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

Related articles

  • The Prague Orgy - a new Czech film in English in Czech cinemas by Michal Kráčmer

    LESS LIBERTY, BETTER FUCKS

  • Festival 4+4 Days in Motion by Eliška Míkovcová (4+4 Festival)

    Festival 4+4 Days in Motion to start in Desfours Palace, this year’s slogan is Nobody Has Anything

  • Lunchmeat Festival 2019—Dark Stars on the Horizon by Tony Ozuna - (Photo Lunchmeat Festival)

    Lunchmeat Festival returns to Prague at the end of September as the leading arena for cutting-edge electronic music and with more audio-visual punch than ever before. Their new motto is a challenge to the mainstream: “obsessed with audio-visual mindf**cks— & those who question the status quo.”

  • The Best European Locations For Hen & Stag Do's by Lucy Stevens

    Alpha Travel Insurance have ranked Europe's top Stag and Hen do destinations and indexed them based on factors including the cost of flights and hotel, the cost of a pint and the number of bars and activities available to find out which city comes out on top.



  • Circus and Theatre Festival Letní Letná Kicks off Next Week by Paul Lysek

    The "Leave the Crowd Speachless" Summer Circus Festival is back for its 16th Season at Letna.

  • Events for the week of August 19 - 23 by Narmin Ismiyeva

    We've highlighted five events for this week including The Great Beauty, Latino Anděl and Festival of Illustration.

  • Events for the weekend 17 - 18 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you making plans for the weekend? We've highlighted six events including the 1981 Secondhand Festival, beer tasting in the Botanical Garden, Etnopicnic and a lesson of Argentine tango atop Lucerna. 

  • Events for the weekend 3 - 4 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you making plans for the weekend? We've selected six events including the Czech version of the famous South Asian festival of love and colors that will take place on Střelecký Island on Saturday.

  • Events for the week 29 July - 2 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you in Prague this week looking for things to do? We have one event for each day, including yoga in Stromovka and screening of Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel in Karlín.

  • New exhibition opens at National Library of Technology by Narmin Ismiyeva

    The National Library of Technology in Dejvice (NTK) is especially popular among students, however, anyone can have access to its study areas. Go explore the unique space and the art exhibition it is currently presenting.

Facebook comments

KUKBURG - Farm to table

Our meat and products straight to your table

T.G.I. Friday's (Příkopy)

A true legend in the restaurant industry - TGI Friday's

Norbert’s donuts

Superb Donuts in the heart of Prague

Sněmovní 7

Sněmovní 7, a new co-working place in Prague 1.

Charles Bridge Museum

Discover the history of Prague’s famous Charles Bridge

Trabant Museum Prague

Trabant Museum @ STK Motol

Army Museum Žižkov

Armádní muzeum Žižkov

National Memorial to the...

Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády


PragueMonitor.com

Prague’s # 1 source for Czech news in English…


PragueConnect.cz

Expat and Czech Business Professional Network


Tschech.News

German Language Info Service