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Czech Violinist Ladislav Jasek has Died

Jasek, who was leader of Adelaide's Elder String Quartet and of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, spent much of his life in Australia


Czech violinist Ladislav Jasek, the leader of Adelaide's Elder String Quartet and of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, has passed away.

Jasek showed early promise on both the violin and the piano, making his concerto debut aged just six. At 18, he entered the Prague Conservatory, where he was to stay for seven years. Following this study, he found success on the competition circuit, winning First Prize at the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition in 1956.

In 1959, Jasek immigrated to Australia, as part of a growing wave of Czech musicians who were bringing their culture and technique to the Antipodes. He was appointed the leader of the string quartet at Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium, which had recently been re-established after a dormant period.

A few years later, Jasek left the quartet to pursue a busy international concert career. However, the pursuit of this career led to trouble: as a frequent traveler, Jasek was well placed to become a spy for the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, and was accordingly subject to enormous pressure from the Czech secret police to bring home sensitive information from the West.

This difficult situation was resolved towards the end of the 1960s when Jasek and his family were accepted as asylum seekers in Australia. They settled in Brisbane, though Jasek soon had stints in Auckland, as an associate professor at Auckland University, and in London, as associate concertmaster of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).

Upon his eventual return to Australia, Jasek became the concertmaster of the Australian Opera, and then of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Jasek purchased his Guadagnini violin in New York at Wurlitzer’s, to which he was introduced by Isaac Stern. He played this instrument until he retired in 1993.

"It is with great sadness we acknowledge the passing of former ASO Concertmaster Ladislav Jasek," wrote the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on social media. 

"From 1983 to 1993, he was an invaluable member of the orchestra, admired for his leadership and joyful approach to music-making. His legacy will forever be felt by those who had the privilege of playing alongside him and witnessing him perform."

Jasek is survived by his wife Anthea Hamilton, his son Richard Jasek and his daughter Nicola Lorenz. Our condolences to Jasek's family, friends, and colleagues.

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