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Antonín DVOŘÁK

(*8.9.1841, Nelahozeves - ✝1.5.1904, Prague)

Czech composer, violist and conductor

Antonín Dvořák was born in Nelahozeves, a small Bohemian village near Prague. His father was an inn-keeper and butcher but he also played the zithar. Dvořák took his first singing and violin lessons at the village school. At the age of 14 he was sent to Zlonice to learn German but he prefered music lessons. He was learning the organ, viola, piano and basic composition with Antonin Liehmann. His interest in music was such that his father allowed him to enrol at the Prague Organ School in 1857 where he received the strict training of a church musician but also attended many concerts of his contemporaries. From 1857 he played viola in the Cecilia Society concerts. After graduation from the Prague Organ School in 1859, Dvořák joined the band of Komzák, which formed later Provisional Theatre Orchestra as head violist (for a time conducted by Smetana). Though this was a steady job Dvořák needed more income. He taught music to girls from rich families including Anna Cermakova, who he married in 1873. Because of the lack of free time Dvořák finally gave up the orchestra to compose full time in 1871. In 1874-1877 Dvořák won the Austrian National Prize several times and received a much needed cash prize, but more importantly he won the respect and the friendship of Brahms who was one of the judges in the competition. Brahms recommended to his publisher Fritz Simrock in Berlin to publish some of Dvořák's works, and considered him an extraordinarily talented artist (Dvořák was 37 at that time). Simrock commissioned the first set of Slavonic Dances in 1878, which launched Dvořák´s international reputation. From 1874 to 1877 Dvořák also played organ at the church of St. Vojtěch in the New Town of Prague. In 1884 Dvořák took his first of nine visits to London to conduct his Stabat Mater (1876-77) which had scored a tremendous success the previous year. His popularity in Britain was immediate and sustained both as composer and conductor. Many of his works, such as his Seventh (1884-85) and Eighth (1889) Symphonies, the cantata Svatební košile (The Spectre's Bride, 1884), the oratorio St Ludmila (1885-6) and the Requiem (1890) were composed for or first performed in England. In 1891 he recieved an honorary doctorate of music from Cambridge University. In 1891, Dvořák was appointed professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory. He soon left this position to take up the offer of the position of Directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Two of his most famous works, the Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (1893), titled From the New World, and the best known of his string quartets, Quartet No. 12 in F Major (1893), so-called the "American Quartet", were composed in the U.S. Both of these works made use of themes influenced by American Indian folk melodies and Negro Spirituals. The New World Symphony derived some inspiration from a Czech translation of Longfellow's poem Hiawatha. Dvořák would later admit that the melancholy of these works could be attributed to the homesickness he felt during his time in America. In 1895 just before leaving America, he produced one of his most remarkable symphonic works Cello Concerto in B Minor. Returning to Prague with great relief, Dvořák resumed his position at the Prague Conservatory, and in 1901 became the director. His pupils include his son-in-law Josef Suk, and Vítězslav Novák. Dvořák died from a short illness on the 1st of May 1904 at the age of sixty-two. He is buried in Prague at the Vyšehrad.

Dvořák exercised a great gift for absorbing folk styles and reproducing them in the context of the Classical tradition. His music is marked by its variety, complexity and versatility. After a period of compositions in German style, Dvořák´s works reflect his deep national consciousness. He is loved for his skill at adapting his native Bohemian folk dances and songs, such as the furiant, polka, skočná, dumka, and sousedská, for use in his compositions, and also for his all Slavonic orientation. Dvořák´s music is notable for a wide variety of genres. He wrote nine symphonies (1865-93) of which the best known must be the Symphony No. 9. The Seventh Symphony, often regarded as his best, powerfully expresses a mood of tragedy. In contrast, the Eight Symphony makes use of the folk melodies and colorful orchestration. The Symphony No. 1 in C Minor from 1865 is called "Zlonické zvony" (The Bells of Zlonice). Works for solo instrument and orchestra by Dvořák include a Cello Concerto in A Major (1865), a Violin Concerto in A Minor (1880) and a Piano Concerto in G Minor (1876) which make together with The Romance for Violin (1873-77), and Klid (The Silent Woods, 1893) for violoncello, important parts of solo repertoire for the instruments. Other orchestral works include two sets of Slavonic Dances (1878 and 1886), originally designed for piano duet, Serenade for Strings in E Major (1875), Symphonic Variations (1877), three Slavonic Rhapsodies (1878), Česká suita (Czech Suite, 1879), Legendy (Legends, 1881) also orchestrated by Dvořák from his original piano duet version, and Scherzo capriccioso (1883). Dvořák wrote five overtures, Můj domov (My Homeland, 1881), Husitská (Hussite, 1883), V přírodě (In Nature's Realm, 1891), Othello (1891-92), and Karneval (Carnival, 1891). Symphonic poems Vodník (The Water Goblin, 1896), Polednice (The Noon Witch, 1896), Zlatý kolovrat (The Golden Spinning Wheel, 1896), Holoubek (The Wild Dove, 1896) are written on K. J. Erben´s collection of folktales Kytice, Píseň bohatýrská (Heroic Song, 1897) has Dvořák´s own programme. From Dvořák´s eleven operas should be named Král a uhlíř (King and Charcoal Burner, 1871), Tvrdé palice (The Stubborn Lovers, 1874), a tragic opera Vanda (1875), Šelma sedlák (The Cunning Peasant, 1877), Dimitrij (1881-82), Jakobín (The Jacobin, 1887-88, rev. 1897), a comic opera Čert a Káča (The Devil and Kate, 1898-89) and a famous lyric fairy tale Rusalka from 1900. Choral works which won him such a following not only in late Victorian England are Stabat Mater, dramatic cantata after Erben The Spectre's Bride, oratorio St Ludmila, Mass in D (1887), Requiem, Te Deum (1892) and Hymnus (1872). Dvořák wrote many songs in number of sets, notably Cypřiše (Cypress Trees, 1865) to words by Pflager, Písně milostné (Love Songs, 1888), Večerní písně (Evening Songs, 1876, orch. 1882) on Hálek, Tři novořecké básně (Three Modern Greek Poems, 1878), Cigánské melodie (Gipsy Songs, 1880) including well-known Songs my Mother taught me and Biblické písně (Biblical Songs, 1894). Very popular is the set of Moravské dvojzpěvy (Moravian Duets, 1875-76), in his Z kytice národních písní slovanských (From a Bouquet of Slavonic Folksongs, 1877-78) and Kytice z českých národních písní (From a Bouquet of Czech Folksongs, 1877) we can see his folklore orientation. Notable from Dvořák´s chamber music are 14 string quartets, the American or Quartet no. 10 in E flat Major (1878-79), Slovanský (Slavonic) (1878-79), string quintets, String Sextet in A Major (1878), from 5 piano trios the Trio in E Minor nick-named Dumky (1890-91) is the best known, piano quartets and quintet, Maličkosti (Bagatelles, 1878) for 2 violins, cello and harmonium, Terzetto (1887) for 2 violins and viola, and Sonata (1880) and Sonatina (1893) for violin. Dvořák´s piano works include Siluety (Silhouettes, 1879), Poetické nálady (Poetic Tone Pictures, 1889), works inspired by folk dances Dumka and Furiant (1884), Dumka (1876 or 1878), Waltzes (1879-80), Mazurkas (1880) and Humoresques (1894, Humoresque No. 7 is the famous one), also piano duets - 16 Slavonic Dances (1878, 1886), Legends (1880-81) and Ze Šumavy (From the Bohemian Forest, 1883-84).

Links:
www.antonindvorak2004.cz
www.dvorak-society.org
dvorak.musicabona.com
bohemia.tripod.com

Biblography:
K. Hoffmeister: Antonín Dvořák (Engl.transl.1928, orig. Prague, 1924)
J. Burghauser: Antonín Dvořák (Engl.transl.1967, orig.Prague, 1966)
O. Šourek: Dvořák´s Werke: ein vollständiges Verzeichnis (Berlin, 1917)
O. Šourek: Antonín Dvořák (Engl.transl.1952, orig. Prague, 1929)
O. Šourek: Antonín Dvořák: Letters and Reminiscences (Engl. transl. 1954, orig. Prague, 1938)
V. Fischl, ed.: Antonín Dvořák: his Achievement (London, 1943)
A. Robertson: Dvořák (London, 1945, 2.1964)
J. Clapham: Dvořák (Newton Abbot, 1979)
H. H. Schönzeler: Dvořák (London and New York, 1984)
M. Beckerman, ed.: Dvořák and his World (Princeton, NJ, 1993)
A. Hořejší: Antonín Dvořák: the Composer´s Life and Work in Pictures (Prague, 1955)
J. H. Yoell: Antonín Dvořák on Records (New York, 1991)

Discography:
Orchestral
8 Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, 8 Slavonic Dances, Op. 72
Wiener Philharmoniker, Rafael Kubelik
1 CD Decca
Carnival - Concert Overture, Op. 92
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 53 (Allegro ma non troppo)
Serenade for String Orchestra in E major, Op. 22 (Moderato)
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, Op. 104 (Allegro)
Slavonic Dance No. 15 in C major, Series II, Op. 72
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 (Allegretto grazioso)
Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95 (Largo, Allegro con fuoco)
Josef Suk - violin, Angelica May - cello
Prague Philharmonia, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Karel Ancerl, Jiri Belohlavek, Vaclav Neumann - conductors
CD Supraphon
Carnival Overture, Op. 92, Symphonic Variations, Op. 78, Husitska Overture, Op. 67 (Hussite), Muj Domov Overture, Op. 62 (My Country), The Noon Witch, Op. 108, Othello Overture, Op. 93, The Golden Spinning Wheel (Zlaty kolovrat), Op.109, Overture In Nature's Realm, Op. 91
London Symphony Orchestra, Istvan Kertesz
2 CD Decca
Carnival, Op. 92, Humoresque No. 7 in G flat major, Op. 101, Slavonic Dance No. 15 in C major
Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Bohumil Kulinsky / Vaclav Smetacek
CD Multisonic
Cello Concerto in B minor op.104
Mischa Maisky - Cello
Israel Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein
CD Deutsche Grammophon
Concert in A minor, Op. 53, Romance in F minor, Op. 11, Mazurek in E minor, Op. 49
Frantisek Novotny - violin
Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek
CD Studio Matous
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 53, Romance for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 11,
Mazurek for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 49
Vaclav Hudecek - violin
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek
CD Supraphon
Concerto in A minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 53
Gabriela Demeterova - violin
Prague Symphony Orchestra, Libor Pesek
CD Supraphon
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 33
Rudolf Firkusny - piano
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann
CD Supraphon
Czech Suite, Op. 39
Talich Quartet
Prague Chamber Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann
CD Lotos
Holoubek / The Wild Dove, Op. 110, Vodnik / The Water-Goblin, Op. 107, Zlaty kolovrat / The Golden Spinning-Wheel, Op. 109
Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Petr Vronsky
CD Panton
Humoresque No. 7 in G flat major, Op. 101, Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World [Z Noveho sveta, Novosvetska]", Carnival, Concert Overture, Op. 92, Slavonic Dance No. 15 in C major, Op. 72
Prague Symphony Orchestra, Vaclav Smetacek
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek / Vaclav Neumann
CD Supraphon
In Natures Realm, Concert Overture, Op. 91, Scherzo Capriccioso, Op. 66
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Sejna
CD Supraphon
Legends, Op. 59, Czech Suite in D major, Op. 39
Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek
CD Clarton
Miniatures, Nocturne in B major, Op. 40
Josef Suk - violin
Suk Chamber Orchestra, Josef Suk
CD SKO
Othello op.93, Symphony no.9 in E minor op.95 "From the New World"
Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado
1 CD Deutsche Grammophon
Romance for Violin and Orchestra op.11
Gil Shaham - Violin
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
CD Deutsche Grammophon
Serenade E major, Op. 22, Two Waltzes, Op. 54/1; Op. 54/4
Suk Chamber Orchestra, Josef Suk
CD SKO
Serenade for String Orchestra in E major, Op. 22
Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert Karajan
CD Deutsche Grammophon
Slavonic Dance No. 10 in E minor, Op. 72, No. 2, Festival March, Op. 54, Slavonic Dance No. 15 in C major, Op. 72, No. 7, Slavonic Dance No. 9 in B major, Op. 72, No. 1
Prague Symphony Orchestra, Zdenek Macal
CD MusicVars
Slavonic Dance no.1 in C major op.46 no.1, Slavonic Dance no.10 in E minor op.72 no.2, Slavonic Dance no.3 in A flat major op.46 no.3, Slavonic Dance no.16 in A flat major op.72 no.8, Slavonic Dance no.7 in C minor op.46 no.7, Scherzo capriccioso op.66
Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan
CD Deutsche Grammophon
Slavonic Dances, Symphony No. 8, In Nature's Realm, Carnival, Othello, Symphony No. 9 "From the New World", The Water Goblin, The Noon Witch, The Golden Spinning Wheel, The Wild Dove,
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Stabat Mater
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Talich
13 CD Supraphon
Symphony No. 1 in C minor 'The Bells of Zlonice', Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Symphony No. 5 in F minor, Symphony No. 6 in D major, Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Symphony No. 8 in G major, Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World"
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann
6 CD Supraphon
Symphony No. 1 'The Bells of Zlonice', Symphony No. 2, Op. 4, Symphony No. 3, Op. 10, Symphony No. 4, Op. 13, Symphony No. 5, Op. 76, Symphony No. 8, Op. 88, Symphony No. 6, Op. 60, Symphony No. 7, Op. 70, Symphony No. 9, Op. 95 'From the New World'
Scottish National Orchestra, Edwin Paling, Neeme Jarvi
6 CD Chandos
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World"
Wiener Philharmoniker, Rafael Kubelik
CD Decca
Symphony No. 8 in G major "English", Op. 88, Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Valek
CD Radioservis
Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 45, Carnival, Concert Overture, Op. 92,
Symphonic Variations, Op. 78
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek
CD Supraphon
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World [Z Noveho sveta, Novosvetska]"
Te Deum for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra, Op. 103
Gabriela Benackova, Jaroslav Soucek
Czech Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann
CD Supraphon
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World", In Nature's Realm - Concert Overture, Op. 91, Carnival - Concert Overture, Op. 92, My Home - Overture, Op. 62a
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Ancerl
4 CD Supraphon

Chamber music
2 Waltzes, Op. 54
Skampa Quartet (Pavel Fischer - violin, Jana Lukasova - violin, Radim Sedmidubsky - viola, Jonas Krejci - cello)
CD Supraphon
Cello Concerto in A major, Polonaise in A major for Cello and Piano, Rondo in G minor for Cello and Piano, Silent Woods for Cello and Piano, Slavonic Dance in G minor for Cello and Piano,
Slavonic Dance in A major for Cello and Piano
Jiri Barta - cello, Jan Cech - piano
2 CD Supraphon
Dumky, Op. 90
Kubelik Trio (Jan Talich jun. - violin, Karel Fiala - cello, Kveta Bilynska - piano)
CD GZ
From the Bohemian Forest [Ze Sumavy], Op. 68, Legends, Op. 59
Igor and Renata Ardasev - piano
CD Supraphon
Miniatures, Op. 75a (Second Terzetto for Two Violins and Viola), Bagatelles, Op. 47 for Two Violins, Cello and Harmonium, Terzetto, Op. 74 for Two Violins and Viola
Josef Suk - violin, Ivan Zenaty - violin, Jan Talich - viola, Jiri Barta - cello, Josef Hala - harmonium
CD Lotos
Piano Quintet in A major, Op 81, Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 87
Josef Suk, Ivan Zenaty - violins, Jan Peruska - viola, Jiri Barta - cello, Josef Hala - piano
CD Lotos
Piano Quintet in A, Op. 5, Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81
Sviatoslav Richter - piano, Borodin Quartet
CD Philips
Piano Quintet, Op. 81, String Quintets No. 3 "American", Op. 97
Talich Quartet (Petr Messiereur, Vladimir Bukac - violins, Jan Talich - viola, Evzen Rattay - cello)
Kazuko Mimura - piano, Tasso Adamopoulous - viola
This recording was awarded the special prize by Le Mande de la Musique
CD Calliope
Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65
Smetana Trio (Jitka Cechova - piano, Hana Kotkova - violin, Jan Palenicek - cello)
CD Lotos
Preludes and Fugues for Organ
Jaroslav Tuma - organ (Rychnov 1843)
CD Supraphon
String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 "American"
Panocha Quartet
CD Supraphon
String Quartet in F major "American", Op. 96
Skampa Quartet
CD Supraphon
String Quintet in G major, Op. 77, String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 97
Josef Suk, Pavel Sporcl - violins, Karel Untermuller, Vladimir Bukac - violas, Tomas Strasil, Jiri Barta - cellos, Tomas Vybiral - double bass
CD Lotos
String Sextet in A major, Op. 48
The Czech Philharmonic Sextet (Bohumil Kotmel, Ota Bartos - violins, Jaroslav Pondelicek, Jan Simon - violas, Frantisek Host, Josef Spacek - cello)
CD Waldmann

Operas
Dimitrij
Leo Marian Vodicka, Drahomira Drobkova, Magdalena Hajossyova, Livia Aghova, Ivan Kusnjer, Peter Mikulas, Ludek Vele, Zdenek Harvanek, Pavel Haderer
Prague Radio Chorus, Pavel Kuhn, Czech Philharmonic Chorus, Lubomir Matl
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Gerd Albrecht
3 CD Supraphon
Rusalka
Milada Subrtova, Ivo Zidek, Eduard Haken, Marie Ovcacikova, Alena Mikova
Prague National Theatre, Chorus and Orchestra, Zdenek Chalabala
2 CD Supraphon
Rusalka
Renee Fleming, Ben Heppner, Dolora Zajick, Franz Hawlata, Eva Urbanova, Ivan Kusnjer, Zdena Kloubova, Dana Buresova, Hana Minutillo
The Kuhn Mixed Choir, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras
3 CD Decca

Vocal
Biblical Songs, Gypsy Songs, Three Modern Greek Poems
Ivan Kusnjer - baritone, Marian Lapsansky - piano
CD Supraphon
Biblical Songs, Op. 99
Eduard Haken - bass, Martin Gotthard Schneider - organ improvisations
CD Rosa
Love Songs, Op. 83, Four Songs, Op. 2, In Folk Tone, Op. 73
Magdalena Kozena - mezzosoprano, Graham Johnson - piano
CD Deutsche Grammophon
In Folk Tone, Op. 73, Gypsy Songs, Op. 55, Love Songs, Op. 83, Biblical Songs, Op. 99
Dagmar Peckova - mezzo-soprano, Irwin Gage - piano
CD Supraphon
Biblical Songs, Op 99, Gypsy Songs, Op. 55, Evening Songs, Op. 3, Love Songs, Op. 83
Vera Soukupova - contraalto, Beno Blachut - tenor, Jindrich Jirak - baritone
Ivan Moravec, Alfred Holecek, Ferdinand Pohlreich - pianos
CD Supraphon
Biblical Songs, Op. 99, Gypsy Melodies, Op. 55
Eva Urbanova - soprano, J. Pokorny - piano
CD GZ
Moravian Duets [Moravske dvojzpěvy]
Stanislav Bogunia - piano
Kuhn Mixed Chorus, Pavel Kuhn
CD Supraphon
Requiem, Symphonic Variations
Pilar Lorengar - soprano, Erszebet Komlossy - contralto, Robert Ilosfalvy - tenor, Tom Krause - bass, The Ambrosian Singers, John McCarthy (Dvorak)
London Symphony Orchestra, Istvan Kertesz
2 CD Decca
Requiem - Funeral Mass for Solo Voices, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 89
Maria Stader - soprano, Sieglinde Wagner - contralto, Ernst Haefliger - tenor, Kim Borg - bass
Prague Philharmonic Choir, Marketa Kuhnova, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Ancerl
2 CD Supraphon
Stabat Mater
Gabriela Benackova, Ortrun Wenkel, Petr Dvorsky, Jan Hendrik Rootering
Czech Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch
2 CD Supraphon
Stabat Mater for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra, Op. 58
Eva Urbanova, Marta Benackova, John Uhlenhopp, Peter Mikulas
Prague Philharmonic Choir, Bambini di Praga, Prague Smphony Orchestra, Jiri Belohlavek
live recording
CD Supraphon
Svatební košile / The Spectre's Bride, Op. 69
Zdena Kloubova - soprano, Jaroslav Brezina - tenor, Gustav Belacek - bass
Kühn Mixed Choir, Pavel Kühn, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Valek
CD Radioservis

Dvořák Museum is situated in the street Ke Karlovu, Prague 2, in the baroque Michna Summer Palace, also called Vila Amerika, and it´s the property of the A. Dvořák Foundation. The museum houses an exhibition of the life and work of the composer. The exhibition introduces Dvořák's personality, his work as both a composer and pedagogue. One section describes his life and another his musical creations. Photos show him with his family, his friends and interpreters of his music, including manuscripts and documents. Dvořáks personal possessions can also be seen, for example his furniture, piano, violin, awards and more.

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