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Pavel Kühn

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Biography

Pavel Kühn was the founder of Kühn's Choir Prague (also called Kühn Mixed Choir) and developed a reputation as one of the finest Czech choral conductors from the last half of the 20th century. His repertory was enormous, especially in the Czech realm, taking in standards like the Dvorák Requiem and Stabat Mater, and a broad range of music by Janácek, Martinu, Ryba, and many contemporary composers, including Antonin Tucapsky and Lubos Fiser. Kühn also led an eclectic array of works by Zelenka (Magnificat), Schumann (Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge), Brahms (A German Requiem), Bruckner (motets), Mendelssohn, Reger, Schoenberg, Britten, Hindemith, and many others, including Renaissance-era composers. He also delved into jazz and popular music, performing and recording with various non-classical ensembles and soloists, like jazz flutist Jirí Stivín. While Kühn could adapt to various styles and obtain consistently excellent performances from his singers, his ability to build a choral ensemble from modest beginnings to world-class standards was of equal importance. Although Kühn never became a superstar in the music world, he managed to appear on more than 30 recordings and soundtracks. His recordings are available on a variety of labels, including Capriccio, Panton, and Supraphon, for which he and his ensemble recorded the complete choral music of Martinu to critical acclaim. Pavel Kühn was born in Czechoslovakia in 1938. His father was Jan Kühn, founder of the Prague Philharmonic Choir and easily among the most important Czech choral conductors of his time. In his youth Pavel sang in a children's choir, and later on studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Kühn soon formed a women's chamber choir, which in 1958 he expanded into the Kühn's Choir Prague. Within a decade or so, he built the group into a world-class choral ensemble. He would lead them for over four decades, regularly appearing with the Prague Symphony and Czech Philharmonic and Czech Radio Symphony orchestras. He also extensively toured Europe and often appeared at music festivals, like the Prague Spring Festival and Bohuslav Martinu Festival. While still engaged with his own choral group, Kühn accepted the appointment as chief conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, serving from 1989-1996. In 2000 the European Union of Arts presented Kühn with the prestigious European Gustav Mahler Award. Kühn continued to lead the Kühn's Choir Prague until his death in 2003. He was succeeded by Jan Rozehnal.
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