Antonín Apt (1815–1877)

Founder and conductor of the Cecilian Association Orchestra in Prague. Antonín Dvořák joined the orchestra as a viola player in 1857 during his studies at the organ school. Antonín Apt was one of two conductors (alongside Bedřich Smetana) who influenced Dvořák’s conducting style. Apt was a conductor who was able to obtain the maximum from his players. His demands on the musicians to achieve the highest standard of performance were unrivalled at the time. This also had a bearing on the size of the orchestra: since Apt was a great promoter of the German Neo-Romantics, he felt the need to ensure a sufficient number of instruments, particularly in the string sections, which he succeeded in doing: during certain stages of its history, the Cecilian Association Orchestra had as many as fourteen first violins and, for the performance of vocal works, it had a 120-strong choir at its disposal.