The monumental building in the Neo-Renaissance style, located on the right bank of the Vltava River, was designed as a multi-purpose building for music performances, gallery spaces and the Czech Conservatory School.
The 19th century saw a significant change in financial support for the arts in Europe. The secular authorities and the Catholic Church ceased to provide funding, creating an opportunity for private companies. The Czech Savings Bank became a leading player in the second half of the century and used its influence to build a representative building for musical performances and an art gallery, which was so lacking in the city.
The Rudolfinum was named in honour of Archduke Rudolf, the Czech heir to the throne. It was not after Rudolf II, the famous emperor of the late 16th century, who was based in Prague and contributed to the great cultural flowering of the Czech lands as an art lover, patron and supporter of the sciences.
The architects of the National Theatre, Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, won a public competition for the construction of the building. In 1876-1881, under their direction, the Rudolfinum was built on the site known as Rejdiště (today's Mánes Bridge). In 1884, a concert hall was established in the Rudolfinum, named after the famous Czech composer Antonín Dvořák - Dvořák Hall. It is the largest hall in the building with a capacity of up to 1148 seats. The other halls are the Suk Hall and the Kubelík Hall, which are located at the rear of the building.
And since this is a multi-purpose building, we must not forget the exhibition part of the Rudolfinum Gallery known as the Kunsthalle. Kunsthalle is a gallery based on the concept of holding temporary exhibitions without a permanent exhibition. The gallery has an area of 1500 m² and during its existence it has built a significant position on the Czech art scene. In 2017 it celebrated its anniversary with the most visited exhibition in the Czech Republic with a record number of 161,824 visitors.
But the Rudolfinum is of course best known for being the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the annual Prague Spring Classical Music Festival. The founding of the Czech Philharmonic dates back to 1896, when its first performance took place in the Rudolfinum under the direction of the famous composer Antonín Dvořák. The year 1946 brought the first edition of the Prague Spring International Classical Music Festival to Prague. This festival was initiated by the world-famous conductor Rafael Kubelík and was patronized by the then Czechoslovak President Dr. Edvard Beneš. This created a tradition that continues to this day and is a very popular and well-attended cultural event.
Until the beginning of the First World War, the Rudolfinum served mainly as the seat of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. After the war, it was necessary to rebuild the Neo-Renaissance building for the needs of the Chamber of Deputies of the newly established Czechoslovak Republic. These changes enabled the Rudolfinum to fulfil its new purpose.
In the second half of the 20th century, the Communist Party took over the government of the Czech Republic, and the Prague Rudolfinum building began to be partially used again by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. However, the Orchestra had to share the space with the Communist sports association, which set up a canteen, gym and table tennis area in the former art exhibition space. After 1989, the Rudolfinum building was declared a cultural monument and underwent extensive reconstruction.
Frankly, having the opportunity to operate the Art House Apartments residence in the vicinity of such an important building is a huge benefit for us. Being located so close to the Rudolfinum, the apartments offer visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the depths of Czech culture and art. Try leaning out a little further from the apartment balcony (carefully!) and listen to the soothing string music pouring from Dvořák Hall at the opening ceremony of the Classical Music Festival.