In October 2022, Karel Paukert returned to his native Czech Republic, where he received two awards. First, the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague awarded him an honorary doctorate. Along with a professorial appointment and a gold medal, the doctor honoris causa degree represents the highest appreciation for one’s life and achievements that the university grants. Paukert received this degree for his contributions to the field of organ playing and for sharing and promoting Czech music internationally.
The second prize came from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic for Paukert’s contributions to music. During a nationally televised awards ceremony that included other artists celebrated for their work in theater and the like, Paukert received his award for his lifelong concert and pedagogical activities and for his sharing Czech interpretive and dramaturgical art.
In 1961, Karel Paukert fled the iron curtain while on tour in Iceland as an oboist for the National Orchestra. He settled in Ghent, Belgium, to study with Gabriel Verschraegen at the Royal Conservatory. In 1964, Paukert won the audience prize for improvisation at the International Organ Festival in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Following a national tour that year, Paukert secured a professorial position at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He then taught at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, from 1968 to 1974, and then began work as curator of musical arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art. From 1974 until his retirement in 2004, he presented more than 800 recitals at the museum alone.
Paukert began teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1976 and received his first honorary doctorate at his retirement in 2003. Since 1979, Paukert directed the music program and played the organs at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, until he scaled down his responsibilities to organist only in 2022. He now works closely with his former student, Kevin Jones, who became director of music at St. Paul’s,
Paukert has released numerous recordings with Azica Records and received three awards for programming new music from The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP)/Chamber Music America (CMA).
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