The Martinů Quartet is considered a leading light of the Czech quartet school.
It began life as the ‘Havlák’ quartet, and quickly rose to prominence by winning prizes in numerous prestigious international competitions including the Yehudi Menuhin Competition (Portsmouth, UK), the ARD (Munich), the Evian, and the Prague Spring.
Renamed the Martinů Quartet, the recording career of the ensemble blossomed and further awards followed. These included an award at MIDEM (Cannes) for their recording of the complete string quartets by Bohuslav Martinů, and a UK award by MusicWeb International for their recording of the String Quartets by Leoš Janáček, and of the Terezín Ghetto Requiem by Sylvie Bodorová.
More recently the quartet received high acclaim from critics writing in Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Classica and Harmonie for their double CD of Quintets by Sergei Taneyev (Supraphon 2015) and also chamber music by Petr Eben (Supraphon 2017). Indeed the musical monthly Harmonie wrote: “The Martinů Quartet belongs among the elite, not only in the Czech Republic but worldwide, playing with incredible enthusiasm and virtuosity…”; while the French journal Classica described the quartet thus: “ The Martinů employ generous gestures throughout … The two quintets for strings alone reveal a richness of inspiration and a freshness, which these interpreters restore with an elegance unparalleled by contemporary renditions.“
During a rich musical career, the Martinů Quartet has performed on prestigious concert stages throughout Europe, North America and Japan. It has broadcast on national radio in Germany, Austria, France and the UK, as well as numerous times on Czech radio. Recordings of the three String Quartets by František Škroup (published by Radioservis) were exceptionally enlightening. Their most recent recordings for Czech Radio include Oboe Quartet by Elliott Carter with Vilém Veverka on oboe or the Sonata for Viola and String Quartet by Luboš Fišer with Jitka Hosprová on viola.
In recent years, the Martinů Quartet has embarked on a series of recordings of works by contemporary American composers including E. McKinley, S. Dankner, D. Post, G Hutter and also Tomáš Svoboda, a Czech-American composer working in Portland, Oregon. They have now recorded all twelve String Quartets by Tomáš Svoboda. In addition, the quartet actively supports contemporary Czech composers in the realization of their works, and some of these have been dedicated to the Martinů Quartet.
For almost two decades, the Martinů Quartet has taken time out of its busy concert and recording schedules to run chamber music courses known as “PLAYWIP” in different parts of the Czech Republic. These are attended by musicians from many, many countries throughout Europe, North America, Asia, Australasia and southern Africa.
Lubomír Havlák - violin
is a graduate of the Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He devoted himself intensively to chamber music during his studies, and this became his life's work. He was privileged to participate in master classes in Zurich with Nathan Milstein, and was winner of the National Conservatory Competition, and the Prize for the Interpretation of Contemporary Composition: part of the Carl Flesch Competition in London. He completed his studies by performing violin concertos by Dvořák and Brahms in the Rudolfinum, Prague.
In 1976 Luboš founded the Havlák Quartet, and later the Martinů Quartet. In addition to the concert and recording activities of the quartet, he performs as both soloist and leader of several chamber orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra of the National Theatre Prague. He has shared stage with Shlomo Mintz, Julia Fischer, Sharon Kam, Gautier Capucon, Sergej Nakarjakov. He teaches violin at the International Conservatory in Prague.
Every year, Luboš is the organiser and driving force behind the international chamber music courses of the Martinů Quartet known as ‘PLAYWIP’.
He plays a violin by Karel Boromejský Dvořák from 1891.
Adéla Štajnochrová - violin
is a graduate of the Conservatory and also the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
In Prague she was a student of Dana Vlachová and Petr Messiereur, whilst at the Guildhall as a pupil of Rachel Podger, her interest in baroque violin developed. Concurrently she was selected for the London Symphony Orchestra student programme, which allowed her to rehearse and perform with that renowned orchestra.
In her doctoral studies at HAMU in Prague, Adéla focused on contemporaneous aspects of the interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, and completed her studies by performing it with the Musica Florea orchestra. She has taken part in many master classes, including those of Lewis Kaplan, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ida Levin, Maurice Bourgue and John Holloway.
Adéla now divides her time between modern and baroque violin. She became a member of Martinů Quartet in 2020. She performs as a soloist, a member of the ArteMiss piano trio and the Škampa Quartet, and also in ensembles specialising in historically informed performance of early music, including Musica Florea and Collegium 1704. On the concert stage she has partnered many great personalities of the musical world including Christian Poltéra, Kathryn Scott, Magdalena Kožená, Simon Standage and Ester Hoppe.
Her newly developed passion is in music education of pre-school children. These small violin classes require great energy, meticulous preparation and demanding professional supervision.
Martin Stupka - viola
born in Prague, he began his musical journey at the age of 5, exploring instruments such as the recorder, violin, and accordion. At 14, he delved into studying the viola at the Jan Neruda Music High School in Prague. He continued his education at the Prague Conservatory and later pursued advanced studies in Berlin at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music and the University of Arts.
Martin's musical pursuits span a diverse range of genres. He has engaged in chamber music performances, collaborated with chamber orchestras, explored the realm of baroque music, ventured into jazz and delved into folk music.
Overall, Martin Stupka's biography showcases his remarkable musical talent and his dedication to exploring various genres and collaborating with diverse ensembles. His performances and achievements have taken him to renowned venues and festivals, solidifying his reputation as a versatile and accomplished violist.
Martin entered the Martinů Quartet in 2023.
Jitka Vlašánková - cello
completed her cello studies at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts by performing the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky in the Prague Rudolfinum, and Haydn's Concerto in D major. A British Council scholarship allowed her to study in London for six months with the legendary William Pleeth. She participated in European master classes with A. Navarra and E. Rauttio, and also in the Georg Piatigorsky seminar in Los Angeles with B. Greenhouse. Jitka has been awarded a number of prizes, including 3rd prize and the title “laureate” in the Prague Spring Competition; the prize for the best ‘Performance of a Composition by D. Popper’ at the Pablo Casals Competition in Budapest; the prize for the best ‘Dvořák G minor Rondo’ in the Ministry of Culture competition; and 1st prize in the ‘Beethoven Hradec’. She has given recitals at home and abroad, and has recorded many cello sonatas for Czech Radio, including those by Rachmaninov, Chopin, Franck, Shostakovich and Schubert. Her CD “J.S.Bach: Suites 1-3” received recognition from the music magazine HARMONIE and was marked as “Tip of Harmonie.” Jitka became a member of the Martinů Quartet in 1987, and more recently also a member of the Pro Arte Trio. During her career she has shared stages or recording studios with Josef Suk, Arto Noras, Michel Lethiec and Colin Carr, and also with the Panocha, Pražák, Stamic and Manhattan Quartets. Additionally, she has served as jury member in international competitions in Pretoria, Austria and Czech Republic, including the B. Martinů Foundation Competition. Since 2000 she has been teaching cello and chamber music at the Gymnasium and Music School of the Capital City of Prague. Jitka plays a French cello by François Gand from 1830.