Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is the most respected orchestra in Czech Republic and is based in Prague. In 2008, this orchestra was ranked as the 20th best orchestra in the world based on classical music magazine, Gramophone. The rating itself was based on a pool of votes by a number of well-respected critics around the world.
Based in Prague – one of Europe’s culture centers -, Czech Philharmonic has grown from orchestra of the Prague National Philharmonic. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was born in 1896 and had its first concert at the Rudolfinum led by conductor Antonín Dvořák, one of Czech well-known composers.
Czech Phil became fully independent from the opera house in 1901 and at the beginning was led by Ludvík Čelanský. Afterwards, many of distinguished conductors led this orchestra as its music director, among them are Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Karel Ančerl, Václav Neumann, Jiří Bělohlávek, Vladimir Ashkenazy. Located in the heart of Europe, the orchestra receive a considerable amount of influence from East and also West Europe which enables it to develop its distinctive sound quality.
Currently Israeli conductor Inbal Eliahu is the music director of the Czech Symphony Orchestra since 2009. In 2012, Jiří Bělohlávek will again take this post and lead this orchestra. The info would not be so helpful if you see no example of the orchestra playing. Below is the the Czech Philharmonic with Ashkenazy playing Smetana’s Vltava.