Karel Hoffmann

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Karel Hoffmann (12 December 1872, Prague – 30 March 1936, Prague) was a Czech violinist and music pedagogue, a founding member and first violinist of the Bohemian Quartet. In 1926–1927 he was appointed the rector of the Prague Conservatory.[1]


Hoffmann was born in Prague-Smíchov, as the ninth child of weaver Karel Hoffmann. He was a weak child, and one of his older brothers chose for him the violin as a "lighter work".[1] In 1885 he began his studies at the Prague Conservatory, as a pupil in the class of Antonín Bennewitz. The first important event of his career was his entry to the chamber music class of Hanuš Wihan.[1] There he met Josef Suk, Oskar Nedbal and Otto Berger – his future colleagues and collaborators from the Bohemian Quartet. They founded the quartet officially in 1892, and the activity of the ensemble lasted 42 years. Hoffmann was the only permanent member of the ensemble throughout its 1892-1934 existence.[2] In 1934, after the death of violist Jiří Herold, Hoffmann together with Ladislav Zelenka and Jan Heřman founded the Bohemian Trio.[2]

At the end of the 19th century, in addition to his chamber music activities Hoffmann began to assert himself also as a soloist. He played the solo violin part in the first Prague performance of the Double Concerto in A minor by Johannes Brahms, together with composer Edvard Grieg he performed the Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op.45 in Vienna, and the Czech composer Josef Suk dedicated some of his works to him. In 1901 he performed together with Czech Philharmonic the Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 by Antonín Dvořák in Vienna.

In the "Spolek pro moderní hudbu" (Society for Modern Music) Hoffmann collaborated with renowned Czech and foreign artists – Ilona Štěpánová-Kurzová, Rudolf Karel, Jaroslav Křička, Josef Bohuslav Förster, Ladislav Vycpálek, Jan Kunc, Arthur Honegger, Maurice Ravel, Ottorino Respighi and Paul Hindemith among others.[1]

In 1932 he became ill and the same year he underwent a surgery. He recovered for a short time and resumed his activities. However, the second surgery in 1934 was unsuccessful and Karel Hoffmann died of cancer.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Benešová (2009), p. 50
  2. ^ a b c Černušák (1963), p. 450


  • Benešová, Eva (July 2009). "200 let pražské konzervatoře. VII. Karel Hoffmann a Vilém Kurz (200 Years of the Prague Conservatory. VII. Karel Hoffmann and Vilém Kurz)". Hudební rozhledy (in Czech). 7: 50–51. 
  • Černušák, Gracián; Štědroň, Bohumír; Nováček, Zdenko, eds. (1963). Československý hudební slovník I. A-L (in Czech). Prague: Státní hudební vydavatelství. pp. 450–451.