The National Theatre Orchestra is the oldest, still performing orchestra in the Czech Republic, with its roots stretching back to the Provisional Theatre era (1862-1883).
Between 1866 and 1874, the orchestra’s formation was fundamentally influenced by its Kapellmeister Bedřich Smetana, the founder of the modern Czech classical music.
Later on, the world-renowned composer Antonín Dvořák performed with the orchestra as a violist. More recently, the orchestra was led by such distinguished conductors as Karel Kovařovic, Otakar Ostrčil, Václav Talich, Zdeněk Chalabala, Jaroslav Krombholc and Zdeněk Košler. Those who worked with it also included Richard Strauss, Karl Böhm, Charles Mackerras, Jiří Bělohlávek, as well as the reputable young Czech conductors Tomáš Netopil and Jakub Hrůša.
The National Theatre Orchestra participated in the world premieres of operas and symphonic works by Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů.
It was the first orchestra to have performed Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades beyond Russia, and Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff beyond Italy. At the present time, it plays at opera and ballet performances and concerts at the National Theatre and the Estates Theatre in Prague.