“The premiere of the cantata Český poutník (Czech Pilgrim) at Smetanova Litomyšl confirmed that it’s possible nowadays to compose accessible, conservative, traditional music and at the same time, to gracefully stay within the limits beyond which the piece would be in danger of raising an impression of unoriginality or kitschiness,” writes Petr Veber in his review for the music magazine Harmonie. The composition was performed on 14 June in Litomyšl by the Czech Philharmonic with Tomáš Netopil as the conductor.
It was the art director of the festival Vojtěch Stříteský who came up with the idea of having an original Czech composition for the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic and the 60th year of the festival. He approached conductor Jiří Bělohlávek with his offer who agreed to participate and soon after, the Czech Philharmonic joined in as well. “We had an agreement that we were going to approach four contemporary Czech authors in order to gain an inter-generational testimony about or country, our heart, our spirit, our landscape. And we have succeeded,” said Stříteský in an interview for the Czech Television.
The authors of the cantata worked independently, they are Jan Kučera, Jan Ryant Dřízal, Jiří Gemrot and Silvie Bodorová. The libretto was written by Vojtěch Stříteský and it includes poems by famous Czech poets František Hrubín, Jiří Orten, Josef Václav Sládek, Josef Kainar, Karel Hlaváček, Josef Hora and Jaroslav Seifert.
Apart from the Czech Philharmonic, the composition was also performed by the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the children's choir Jitro from Hradec Králové and baritone Adam Plachetka. Actor Jan Šťastný took up the role of the reciter.
Bohemian Heritage Fund is a long-term partner of the festival and supported the origin of the cantata financially.