Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák

8 September 1841, Nelahozeves, Bohemia, Austrian Empire/Czech Republic – 1 May 1904, Prague


Antonín Leopold Dvořák was the first Bohemian composer to achieve worldwide recognition, noted for turning folk material into 19th-century Romantic music. He came to know music early, in and about his father’s inn, and became an accomplished violinist as a youngster, contributing to the amateur music-making that accompanied the local dances. Though he was assumed to become a butcher and innkeeper, like his father (who also played the zither), the boy had an unmistakable talent for music, that was recognized and encouraged. About 12 years old, he moved to Zlonice and began studying harmony, piano, and organ. Here he wrote his earliest works, polkas. Dvořák enrolled at the Institute for Church Music in Prague, where he completed a two-year course and played the viola in various inns and with theatre bands, augmenting his small salary with a few private pupils.

Antonín Dvořák – Polka in B-Flat Major: „For Prague Students”, Op. 53a Musica Florea, Conductor: Marek Štryncl

In the 1860s, Dvořák wrote two symphonies, an opera, chamber music, and numerous songs lay unheard in his desk. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed features of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style has been described as „the fullest recreation of a national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them”.

Among the students Dvořák tutored throughout the 1860s were the sisters Josefina and Anna Čermáková. The musician fell in love with the elder sister, Josefina, but she did not reciprocate his feelings. The anguish of his unrequited love is said to be expressed in Cypresses (1865), songs set to texts by Gustav Pfleger-Moravský. In November 1873 he married the younger sister, Anna, a pianist and singer.

Antonín Dvořák – Cypresses B.152 Romantic Song-Cycle Prague String Quartet, Violin: Břetislav Novotný, Karel Přibyl, Viola: Lubomír Malý, Celo: Jan Šírc

In 1875 Dvořák was awarded a state grant by the Austrian government, and this award brought him into contact with Johannes Brahms, with whom he formed a close and fruitful friendship. Brahms not only gave him valuable technical advice but also found him an influential publisher in Fritz Simrock, and it was with his firm’s publication of the Moravian Duets for soprano and contralto (1876) and the Slavonic Dances for piano duet (1878).

Antonín Dvořák – Slavonic Dances Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Conductor: Antal Doráti

Dvořák accepted the post of director of the newly established National Conservatory of Music in New York in 1892, and, during his years in the United States, he traveled as far west as Iowa. Though he found much to interest and stimulate him in the New World environment, he soon came to miss his own country, and he returned to Bohemia in 1895. The final years of his life saw the composition of several string quartets and symphonic poems and his last three operas.

Antonín Dvořák – The Devil and Kate (Čert a Káča) National Theater in Prague, Conductor: Jan Chalupecký


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În limba română:


Dvořák – Symohony No. 9 in E minor „From The New World”, op. 95 Münchner Philharmoniker conducted by Sergiu Celibidache (1991)



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