Stepan Rak’s life and artistic path has been well documented in encyclopedias, in TV interviews here in the Czech Republic and abroad, on radio programs and in many other printed publications. Let’s take a look at some highlights from the more recent years of this storied career.
In the year 2000, Stepan Rak was historically and officially named the first Professor of Guitar in the Czech Republic. This title was bestowed upon him by President Vaclav Havel.
In 2001, he became the first guitarist in the world to be invited to perform solo at the famed P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. The concert was received overwhelmingly well, resulting in a second invitation. In that same year, he performed in Mexico with Alfred Strejček at the VIVAT COMENIUS concert, held in honor of J.A. Komensky. This marked the second collaboration for the artists on the American continent.
Stepan Rak then returned to perform at the P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow in 2002, where he also performed at the world-renowned Moscow Fall festival. In that same year, the artist added Japan to the list of 73 countries where he had already performed.
In 2003, KYTARA, MÁ LÁSKA (trans. Guitar, My Love), the book he co-authored with Jaroslava Urbanova, was released. The book was dedicated to several celebrities, founders of guitar schools in the Czech Republic, and Professor Stepan Urban.
In February 2004, Stepan Rak became the first Czech guitarist ever invited to China. At the theatre in Peking he dazzled his audience with his Chvála čaje (trans. Ode to Tea) concert. And in March of that year, he hosted the international festival for world-champion guitarists in California. His U.S. audience was mystified with his breath taking composition 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Later in 2005, the artist visited many venues in several other countries and at home in the Czech Republic while celebrating his 60th birthday.
In November 2006, Stepan Rak was presented with the gift of a lifetime, a one-of-a-kind stone guitar carved for him by the sculptor Jan Řeřich. This guitar possesses extraordinary, resonating properties that the artist utilizes in his KYTAROTERAPIE (tran. Guitarotherapy).
At the end of 2007, he and his graduates from HAMU (the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) commemorated 25 years of guitar with a concert at the academy where founded guitar as a field of study in 1982. On November 4, 2007, Rak and Strejček were at it again. This time the pair teamed up in Florence, Italy at the Uffizi Gallery, where they performed a memorable rendition of the late Jan Amos Komensky’s Obecná porada o nápravě věcí lidských (trans. General Consultation on the Reform of Human Affairs) in front a portrait of Komensky painted by Rembrandt. Then, in December, the two artists christened a newly-released selection of readings from Komensky’s famed work.
Stepan Rak is an enchanting artist who enthralls listeners with interpretations of a championship caliber and an elite composer all wrapped up into one musical, spiritual performing virtuoso.