'One of Prague's most innovative musical undertakings.'

Over the course of its 27-year existence, Prague Sounds has presented not only some of the great icons of music, but also some of the most exciting young artists on the cutting edge of the scene. Its programming illuminates the relationships between early and contemporary classical music, jazz, hip-hop, and electronica.

Respectful of the past, alive to the present, and with one eye on the future, the festival continues to evolve. Just like good music.

Over its 27-year existence, Prague Sounds has established itself as one of the Czech Republic’s major music events, whose wide-ranging and eclectic programming illuminates the relationships between genres ranging from contemporary classical to jazz, hip-hop, and electronica. Prague Sounds has presented some of the world’s most iconic musical pioneers, as well as the new generations inspired by them – often in Czech premieres.

From jazz to hip-hop, from contemporary classical to electronica to song, Prague Sounds' unique programming concept illuminates the relationships between musical genres and celebrates artists who stand out from the crowd.


'This festival offers up musical experiments that few others would dare to attempt.'

Our History

I. 1996:
Beginnings at Prague Castle

Born as Strings of Autumn under President Vaclav Havel, the festival puts on a bold programme of multi-genre concerts in spaces throughout the castle complex. Memorable performances include avant-garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, saxophonist Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble, and violinist Gidon Kremer.

II. 2004:
Castle Exit – a new era begins

As Havel's presidency ends, the festival has to move outside the castle walls and into the city below. Utilising some of Prague's most iconic venues, it builds a reputation for its varied, high-quality line-up and for bringing to Prague international artists who have never before performed in the city -  among them Kronos Quartet, jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, and vocal magician Bobby McFerrin.

Bobby McFerrin
Iva Bittová
Kronos Quartet
Brad Mehldau

III. 2010:
15-year Anniversary and Beyond

This milestone serves as a fresh start for the festival, as the programme continues to evolve and an increasing number of top-line international artists perform on its stages. We even get noticed by the New York Times, who call us 'one of Prague's most innovative musical undertakings.' Memorable concerts feature legendary minimalist composer Steve Reich, fado sensation Mariza, jazz titans Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, and Ahmad Jamal, opera singer Barbara Hannigan performing Ligeti - and a young up-and-coming singer called Gregory Porter, who plays two sold-out shows in 2012. Porter returns to the festival the following year and is joined by Czech Hammond organist Ondrej Pivec – the beginning of a journey that will see Pivec join Porter's band and the two go on to win a Grammy award as the singer becomes a worldwide star.

Barbara Hannigan
Gregory Porter
Wayne Shorter
Steve Reich

IV. 2011 – 2015:

New Impulses

Alongside concerts by the likes of jazz master Sonny Rollins and Rufus Wainwright, the festival puts on a series of multi-artist club nights at Prague's legendary Roxy. These shows feature cutting-edge young artists working in hip-hop, new jazz, and electronica. As time goes on, these genres will become pillars of the festival's main line-up. Roxy plays host to Ghostopet, Young Fathers, Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, and Xenia Rubinos, among others.

V. 2017 – 2019:

Coming Back Stronger

After a hiatus in 2016, the festival returns in 2017 refreshed and reinvigorated, presenting its now-trademark mix of genres and styles, established and cutting-edge artists, and diverse venues. Alt-country pioneers Lambchop make their Czech debut, Shabazz Palaces's dark electro-rap brings down the house, 'father of minimalism' Terry Riley makes a rare public appearance at a performance of his iconic 'In C,' British soul singer Laura Mvula lights up Forum Karlin, and legends of hip-hop De La Soul shake Lucerna.

VI. 2020 – 2021:
Covid, First-ever Outdoor Concerts, 25 Years

As the world deals with the global pandemic, the festival thinks outside the box and puts on its first-ever open-air shows in stunning Prague locations: Avishai Cohen performs on the rooftop of Lucerna, and Daniel Hope & Max Richter's Vivaldi Recomposed resounds from a specially-constructed floating stage on the Vltava river. The floating stage is such a hit that we build it again the following year as Yo-Yo Ma, perhaps the world's greatest living cellist, performs Bach suites in the twilight. The same year – the festival's 25th anniversary - we return to indoor shows: Kae Tempest makes her Czech debut, and Caroline Shaw, the young composer dubbed 'the future of classical music,' performs with Attacca Quartet.

Yo-Yo Ma
Kae Tempest
Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet

VI. 2022:
Prague Sounds!

In the year we change our name to Prague Sounds, the festival line-up is typically eclectic, taking in Nils Frahm's ambient electronica, Snarky Puppy's infectious jazz/RnB stylings, acoustic techno from Brandt Brauer Frick, and a virtuoso solo set from mandolinist Chris Thile of Punch Brothers fame. Our open-air river series continues with a special concert to mark the Czech presidency of the EU.

Plovoucí scéna na Vltavě
Snarky Puppy
Chris Thile
Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble
Nils Frahm

How Others See Us

'The festival, which began at Prague Castle in Vaclav Havel‘s era, can boost Czech musicians all the way to the Grammies.'

Daniel Konrád, Aktuálně.cz

'The festival is a top-level cultural event: since 1996 it has kept an intriguing balance between conservative virtues and adventurous innovation.'

Pavel Klusák, Heritage Magazine

'At no other festival would it be possible to hear, in the space of a few days, international jazz stars, a domestic popular music legend, Bach’s baroque compositions, classic hip-hop, and experimental contemporary classical music.'

Ondřej Bezr, Lidové noviny

'The festival has established itself as a visible brand, which represents – in a good way – the status of cultural refinement.'

Pavel Turek, Respekt

Watch festival founding director Marek Vrabec tell our story in this mini-documentary made to celebrate our 25th anniversary.