Stepan Rak (b.1945) is one of the luminaries of the classical guitar world, enjoying global renown as a virtuoso performer and composer. He studied a Fine Arts School in Prague before specialising in guitar at the Prague Conservatory; he later returned to study, taking composition at the Prague Academy of Arts. As well as performing and composing, Rak is revered as a teacher. When, in 2000, he took up his current chair at the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Rak became the first ever Professor of Guitar in the Czech Republic. The title was bestowed upon him by President Vaclav Havel. Rak has performed in over 70 countries around the world, including Europe, the Americas, China and Japan. In 2001, he was the first guitarist ever invited to perform solo at the famed P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Returning by invitation the following year, he also performed at the Moscow Fall Festival. Other extraordinary concerts have included a collaboration with actor Alfred Strejček celebrating Czech philosopher Jan Amos Komensky, which included events in Mexico and Italy; his “Ode to Tea” concert in Beijing; and his premier performance of his composition “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” at an international guitar festival in California. In 2006, Rak was presented with a one-of-a-kind stone guitar carved for him by sculptor Jan Řeřich. This guitar possesses extraordinary, resonating properties that Rak uses in his work KYTAROTERAPIE (“Guitarotherapy”).
Rak is also a published author: KYTARA, MÁ LÁSKA (“Guitar, My Love”), co-authored with Jaroslava Urbanova, was published in 2003. Rak’s virtuoso playing and magnetic performances have been widely recorded and uploaded, and his compositions and arrangements are performed by a wealth of other artists (although much of his output requires advanced playing skills).