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Karel Ancerl (1908 - 1973)


Karel Ančerl was born in the village of Tučapy in southern Bohemia, a region of forests and lakes. He started to learn the violin while at elementary school and acquired his own first violin at the age of six. Although neither of his parents was a musician, both of them loved music: his father played the violin and piano by ear and his mother sang. His sister was an accomplished pianist and together she and Karel played sonatas and chamber music. At High School in Prague Ančerl continued with his music and violin studies. In 1925 he entered the Prague Conservatory, changing from the violin to composition, which he studied with Alois Hába and J. Křička. He graduated in this subject in 1929, without either doing very much conducting or formal study of it, although he did conduct a student orchestra that played for local dances. His formative conducting experience came when he was asked at short notice to direct the off-stage bands in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 conducted in Prague by Bruno Walter. After a successful rehearsal Walter said simply to Ančerl, ‘It was very good. You should be a conductor.’

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