This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies. Accept
All press releases
Show news Hide news

French horn, gateaux and goat’s milk: on the day of her premiere as a soloist at the Czech Philharmonic open-air concert at Prague Castle, Kateřina Javůrková seems particularly relaxed. No wonder – she simply doesn’t have time for stage fright. But she does have some time to reveal lots of surprises...

She is 25 years old. Her instrument, the French horn, is much older. For two years, Kateřina has been part of the best Czech orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic. In 2013, she won the Prague Spring International Music Competition. That alone is an enormous success that very few achieve at the beginning of their careers. But Kateřina can do a great deal of other things that demonstrate additional and completely different talents: she bakes gateaux to order, at least one or two every day. Within the next two years she hopes to open her own patisserie in her home village west of Prague.

Kateřina lives on a former farm near Prague with a large garden.
Kateřina lives on a former farm near Prague with a large garden.
She most often practices in the kitchen. First she shoves a pie in the oven, then she plays scales.
She most often practices in the kitchen. First she shoves a pie in the oven, then she plays scales.

10:00

The morning of the Czech Philharmonic’s performance at the traditional open-air concert on Prague’s Castle Square: the concert is the highlight of the 120th anniversary season and will even be shown live on Czech television. But how will the young woman spend her time today, before several cameras and thousands of eyes are focused on her in the evening? 

Sometimes she takes care of the family goat, which loves to munch on roses and herbs that .
Sometimes she takes care of the family goat, which loves to munch on roses and herbs that .
After a good jog in the morning, she opens the door with wet hair and a blueberry cheesecake in one hand. She lives on a former farm with a spacious garden full of large trees, flowers and herbs. “Stop it!” she scolds the goat, who is getting stuck in the roses. From her grandparents’ once large farm, only the dog, the rabbits and said goat, who is now about to ransack the well-kept garden, remain. Kateřina sits beneath a walnut tree and drinks coffee from an old, hand-painted cup and tells the story of how she started playing the French horn.

“Our father was a keen amateur musician – he played the trumpet. Maybe he wanted to live his unfulfilled life dream through his children, and he actually succeeded in that. My brother Jirka and I earn a living from music. As a small girl, I started playing the flute. When I was nine, my dad took me to a friend who played the horn in an orchestra. He handed the instrument to me so I could try it. I actually would have preferred to play the flute, but I didn’t have the courage to resist. I’m happy about it now though, because the horn actually suits me nicely.” When talking, Kateřina holds the shiny instrument so gently in her hands, as if it were alive. “You have to have a relationship with this instrument, you have to like it, you have to enjoy it.”

Our father was
a keen amateur musician
– he played
the trumpet. Maybe he wanted to live his unfulfilled life dream through his children,
and he actually succeeded
in that.

Kateřina Javůrková
Kateřina started playing the horn when she was 5 years old.
Kateřina started playing the horn when she was 5 years old.
One hour of practise every day is the absolute minimum.
One hour of practise every day is the absolute minimum.

Some people might think that once you have learnt how
to play
an instrument, you can just do it
and you don’t need
to bother
about it anymore.

Kateřina Javůrková
Within the next two years, Kateřina wants to open her own bakery.
Within the next two years, Kateřina wants to open her own bakery.

12:00

The doorbell rings. Friends have arrived to pick up the birthday cake that Kateřina has baked for them. They open the box and a cake covered with fresh raspberries, with perfectly modelled marzipan animal figures on top, emerges from under the lid. The birthday girl is absolutely delighted because these figures look uncannily similar to her pets. Her friends say thanks and leave. Kateřina continues:

Kateřina is a passionate baker and makes cake to order.
Kateřina is a passionate baker and makes cake to order.
“Then I went to Na Popelce Art Primary School, but I hesitated a bit when choosing a secondary school, whether I should maybe go to a classic grammar school or whether I should really go for a career in music and enroll at the Conservatory. The latter career path ultimately won, and last year I graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts.” She is a little reserved when talking about her success. And yet she has every reason to be proud of herself: she is one of the youngest musicians in the Czech Philharmonic’s ensemble. She spends about 14 days per month on tour around the world. In Japan, China, America … on every continent.

“Some people might think that once you have learnt how to play an instrument, you can just do it and you don’t need to bother about it anymore. But it doesn’t work like that. It’s just like being an athlete: you have to constantly practise and train, otherwise you get out of shape. Even the best marathon runner can’t sign up for a competition without preparing regularly. For the French horn, the most important thing is training the mouth and the muscles around the mouth. One hour of training every day is the absolute minimum, and that’s not including the concert in the evening or orchestra rehearsals. Going on holiday without practising? Unthinkable.”

Dressing up: Kateřina carefully choosing a dress for the concert.
Dressing up: Kateřina carefully choosing a dress for the concert.

14:00

She flicks through various sheets of music. This autumn, she is looking forward to the prestigious ARD International Music Competition for wind instruments in Munich. “I actually didn’t want to sign up for any more competitions, but this year this event is dedicated to French horn players. Also, the prescribed programme fits my current repertoire really well and so I told myself that this will be my last ever competition. But that also means that I have to practise for at least four hours every day over the whole summer. Most of the eight specified compositions have to be played by heart and some of them last up to around 15 minutes....” The evening solo from Dukas’ ‘Villanelle’, which she is going to perform for the very first time with the Czech Philharmonic, she already knows by heart. “The most difficult part of the composition is the beginning with a very difficult fanfare,” says Kateřina. She quickly grabs her horn to play the fanfare for us. The French horn sounds and anyone who associates this instrument solely with the sounds of a hunting scene would be surprised how gentle the instrument sounds in the hands of this young musician.

The most difficult part
of the composition is the beginning with a very difficult fanfare.

Kateřina Javůrková
Kateřina carries her French horn to concerts herself.
Kateřina carries her French horn to concerts herself.

15:00

Time is ticking by. Kateřina packs her understated black dress with fine lace on the shoulders. Before she leaves for the concert, she still has to milk the goat. “Given my work, I can’t look after my own animal around the clock.  The goat belongs to our mother, but she’s on holiday right now so I milk the goat twice a day. Because I sometimes get back from a concert after midnight, we have to do it now,” Kateřina says smiling, as she sits down next to the goat like an expert. A few minutes later, she has a pot full of goat’s milk. This young woman’s skilled hands not only brilliantly master difficult musical scores, they also bake wonderful cakes and do the milking.

The young, successful musician has to manage many things before the concert. For example, she still has to milk the goat.
The young, successful musician has to manage many things before the concert. For example, she still has to milk the goat.
On her way to the concert in the back of a ŠKODA SUPERB.
On her way to the concert in the back of a ŠKODA SUPERB.
Kateřina pulls her evening dress and horn out of the boot of a ŠKODA SUPERB.
Kateřina pulls her evening dress and horn out of the boot of a ŠKODA SUPERB.

16:00

As she gets going, the French horn is safely stored in the boot of the ŠKODA SUPERB which is taking Kateřina to the concert. ŠKODA AUTO has been one of the traditional general partners of the Czech Philharmonic for 23 years, and even the principal conductor Jiří Bělohlávek drives a ŠKODA SUPERB. What’s more, Kateřina baked him an almost 90-kg birthday cake this year for his milestone birthday, which she adorned with figures of members of the Philharmonic. From their photos, she modelled all 122 members of the Philharmonic out of marzipan. It was a great success.

Getting ready: Kateřina getting her hair and make-up done.
Getting ready: Kateřina getting her hair and make-up done.

17:00 - 22:00

Now she joins her colleagues on the podium on Prague’s Castle Square. The sound check follows, then it’s time to get changed and put on some make up. A little bit of nervousness is part of the package. After the introductory words from the master of ceremonies, Marek Erben, Kateřina then steps in front of the principal conductor, and as she brings the French horn to her mouth, the audience is utterly silent. The formidable fanfare sounds. Perfect. Absolutely flawless. The audience applauds, and Kateřina receives flowers. She’s done it. “As I was standing there in front of all those people, I wasn’t nervous at all anymore. It was a really wonderful experience! I’m really happy that I managed to do it,” says Kateřina, clearly euphoric after the concert while enjoying a cold beer. She is still tenderly holding her French horn in her hand. 

Bio

Kateřina Javůrková



Kateřina Javůrková (25) began playing the flute at a very young age. At the age of nine, she tried playing the French horn for the first time. She began her studies at the Na Popelce Art Primary School and then continued at the Prague Conservatory. This year, she successfully graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, during which she also completed an internship at the Conservatoire de Paris. She has won many music competitions, including the International Brass Competition in Brno, where she won first prize on more than one occasion and the title of overall winner in 2013. In 2009, she came first in the ‘Federico II di Svevia’ international festival in Italy, and in 2011, she was the overall winner at the International Interpretative Competition for French horns as part of the Moravian Autumn festival. Her greatest success to date is winning and receiving the title of laureate at the prestigious Prague Spring International Competition in 2013. In the same year, she was admitted into the Czech Philharmonic and is a founding member of the Belfiato Quintet ensemble. She is single and lives in Středokluky, west of Prague.

The very first piece of the concert is Dukas’s Villanela with Kateřina's opening solo.
The very first piece of the concert is Dukas’s Villanela with Kateřina's opening solo.

As I was standing there in front
of all those people, I wasn’t nervous at all anymore.
It was a really wonderful experience!
I’m really happy that I managed
to do it.

Kateřina Javůrková
Her first solo with the Czech Philharmonic.
Her first solo with the Czech Philharmonic.
Euphoria. The concert visited by thousands of people was a great success.
Euphoria. The concert visited by thousands of people was a great success.