Zdenek Kosler


Born: March 25, 1928 Died: July 2, 1995
Czech conductor Zdenék Kosler achieved international recognition as a compelling interpreter of large portions of the Czech and Central European repertories. Equally at ease on the concert stage and in the opera house, he led several acclaimed recordings and presided over the premieres of a number of Czech concert works. Instructed as a child by his musician father, Kosler later attended the Prague Academy of Musical Arts, where he majored in conducting, composition, and piano. During his years there, he was privileged to work with the famous Czech conductor Karel Ancerl. After serving as assistant conductor for the Czech Choir and the Kühn Children's Chorus, Kosler was engaged by the Prague National Theatre in 1948. In 1951, he made his podium debut there, also appearing for the first time with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In 1956, Kosler placed first in the Besançon International Competition for conductors. From 1958 to 1962, he served as director of the Olomouc Opera. While engaged as director of the Ostrava Opera (1962 to 1966), he won the 1963 Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition, affording him the opportunity to work as an assistant to Leonard Bernstein during the 1963-1964 season. Following a year as principal conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Kosler left to become conductor and music director of Berlin's Komische Oper, where the brilliant Walter Felsenstein was stage director. After three seasons, Kosler left to conduct on a guest basis before accepting a five-year residency as director of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava in 1971. Concurrently, he appeared as guest conductor with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and served as resident conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he filled for a decade. During this period, Kosler also accepted numerous guest assignments in Europe, the Far East, and Canada. From 1980 to 1985, Kosler was music director and chief conductor of the Prague National Theatre Opera. He returned to the company in 1990 as chief conductor. Among Kosler's many recordings are several from his tenure with the Prague National Theatre, notably Smetana's The Bartered Bride, Dalibor, and Libuse. His recordings of Strauss' tone poems for Naxos are also noteworthy.