Dvořák Antonín


Antonín Leopold Dvořák was born on September 8, 1841 in the village of Nelahozeves (near Prague). The village organist J. Spitz was his first teacher. At the age of eight, Dvořák played in the tavern orchestra in the evenings. In 1853, Antonin moved to Zlonice, where his uncle lived. During this period, he continued his music studies, took piano and violin lessons. At the age of 16, the young musician moved to the capital and continued his studies in Prague. There Antonin entered the School of Organists, where his teachers were Josef Zvonař and František Blažek. After graduating from school, Dvořák worked in the Prague Concert Ensemble, and then in the Czech "Provisional Theater", which was established in 1862. He was playing in the orchestra of this theater for 11 years. As a result, Dvořák got a place of violist in the orchestra of the Czech National Theater, which was then directed by the famous composer Bedřich Smetana. It is worth noting that since 1875 Johannes Brahms that helped the young composer to receive a state scholarship patronized Dvořák; in addition, thanks to the mediatization of Brahms, the famous Viennese editor Nikolaus Simrock published the works of the young composer. Since 1879, Dvořák and Brahms communicated closely and their creative collaboration was very fruitful. It is known that Brahms was heartedly disposed to Dvořák and closely concerned with his fate. "I am interested in his every note," said Brahms, "I sincerely love him as an artist and a person". Dvořák could say the same about Brahms - he worshiped the authority of the Viennese master and was proud of the trust placed in him.

In the early 1870s, Dvořák created his first major works - the operas “Alfred” and “The King and Charcoal Burner”, as well as the string quartet dedicated to I. Brahms, four symphonies that were not published during the composer's lifetime.

Over the years, the connection between the composer's creative work and the Czech national culture was becoming increasingly strong. Influenced by the founder of Czech classical music, Smetana, Dvořák created a number of works that reflected the struggle of the Czech people for independence and freedom. In 1872, the patriotic choir "Hymn" appeared, as well as compositions related to folklore - Moravian duets, cycles of Czech and Slovak folk songs, arranged for the choir. Following the realistic traditions of Czech folk art, Dvořák wrote public-spirited operas. His "Slavonic Dances" for piano duet gained immense popularity. In 1882, his other opera "Dimitrij" was staged.

Dvořák was becoming a popular composer not only at his native country, but abroad as well. The composer combined his creative activity with performing, conducting his own compositions. His acquaintance in 1888 and further friendship with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky facilitated his concert trip to Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg).

In 1891, Dvořák was appointed a professor of musical work (composition) at the Prague Conservatory. From 1892 to 1895, he worked in the USA, where he performed concert-portraits. In New York, he held the position the Conservatory professor and director. He managed to reorganize the system of music education totally. However, Dvořák yearn for homeland and finally returned there. From 1901, he headed the Prague Conservatory.

In the last years of his life, he continued his intensive creative activity, wrote a comic opera in the folk sentiment "The Devil and Kate", a lyric fairy-tale opera "Seamaid" (“Rusalka”), the Second Cello Concerto. However, he did not live long after returning to his homeland - Dvořák died of a cerebral hemorrhage on May 1, 1904.

The Dvorak Society and the Museum named after him were opened in Prague. The memorial museum was organized in Nelahozeves, in the house where the composer was born.

Source: "The History of World Music" - authors and compilers A. Minakova, S. Minakov, M: Eksmo, 2010