Karel Kovařovic (1862–1920)

Czech conductor and composer, during the years 1900–1920 head of the National Theatre Opera in Prague. He is considered the most important Czech opera conductor of his time. He focused on works by Czech composers, whose scores he sometimes revised himself. Of Dvořák’s oeuvre he presented the premiere of the opera Rusalka and a stage production of the oratorio Saint Ludmila. He also paid particular attention to the opera Dimitrij, whose individual versions he subjected to a comparative study, which gave rise to the “Kovařovic” version, now used for the majority of productions to date. One of the reasons given for the failure of the premiere of Dvořák’s last opera Armida is Kovařovic’s withdrawal from his commitment to rehearse the work for health reasons. As pianist, Kovařovic also took part in the premiere of Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81.