Dvorák, Antonín (Leopold)

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Dvořák, Antonín (Leopold)

Dvořák, Antonín (Leopold), famous Czech composer; b. Mühlhausen, Sept. 8,1841; d. Prague, May 1, 1904. His father ran a village inn and butcher shop and intended Antonín to learn his trade. However, when he showed his musical inclinations, his father let him study piano and violin with a local musician. He also received financial help from an uncle. Later, Dvořák went to Prague, where he studied with the director of a church music school, Kareí Pitsch, and his successor, Josef Krejci. Dvořák also began to compose assiduously, including two operas. His first public appearance as a composer took place in Prague on March 9, 1873, with a perf. of his cantata The Heirs of the White Mountain (Hymnus). An important event in his career occurred in Prague on March 29, 1874, when Smetana conducted his Sym. in E-flat major, op.10. Dvořák then entered several of his works in a competition for the Austrian State Prize, adjudicated by a distinguished committee that included Herbeck, Hanslick, and Brahms. He won the prize in 1875 and twice in 1877. Brahms, in particular, appreciated Dvořák’s talent and recommended him to Simrock for publication of his Moravian Duets and the highly popular Slavonic Dances. His Stabat Mater (Prague, Dec. 23,1880) and Sym. in D major, op.60 (Prague, March 25, 1881), followed in close succession, securing for him a leading position among Czech composers.

At the invitation of the Phil. Soc. of London, Dvořák visited England in 1884 and conducted several of his works. He then was commissioned to compose a new sym. for the Phil. Soc.; this was his Sym. in D minor, op.70, which he conducted in London on April 22, 1885. His cantata The Spectre’s Bride, composed for the Birmingham Festival, was accorded an excellent reception when he conducted the English performance there on Aug. 27,1885. On his 3rd visit to England, he conducted the premiere of his oratorio St. Ludmila, at the Leeds Festival on Oct. 15, 1886. In 1890 he appeared as a conductor of his own works in Russia. On Feb. 2,1890, he conducted in Prague the first performance of his Sym. in G major, op.88, which became one of his most popular works. In 1891 Dvořák was appointed prof, of composition at the Prague Cons.; he then received honorary degrees from the Charles Univ. in Prague (Ph.D.) and the Univ. of Cambridge (D.Mus.). There followed his brilliant Carnival Overture of 1891.

In 1892 Dvořák accepted the position of director of the National Cons, of Music of America in N.Y. He composed his Te Deum for his first U.S. appearance as a conductor (N.Y, Oct. 21, 1892); he also conducted a concert of his music at the 1892 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was in the U.S. that he composed his most celebrated work, the Sym. in E minor, op.95, From the New World, which received its premiere performance on Dec. 15, 1893, with Anton Seidl conducting the N.Y. Phil. The sym. is essentially a Czech work from the old world; nevertheless, by appearing as a proponent of the use of Negro-influenced themes in symphonic music, Dvořák had a significant impact on American musical nationalism. He discussed the idea in an article, “Music in America” (Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Feb. 1895). Dvořák also composed his great Cello Concerto during his American sojourn, and conducted its first performance in London on March 19, 1896. Resigning his N.Y. position in 1895, he returned home to resume his duties at the Prague Cons.; he became its director in 1901. During the last years of his life, Dvořák devoted much of his creative efforts to opera; Rusalka (1900) remains best known outside Czechoslovakia. He made his last appearance as a conductor on April 4, 1900, leading a concert of the Czech Phil, in Prague. He was made a member of the Austrian House of Lords in 1901, the first Czech musician to be so honored. Czechs celebrated his 60th birthday with special performances of his music in Prague.

Dvořák’s musical style was eclectic. His earliest works reflect the influence of Beethoven and Schubert, then Wagner, culminating in the Classicism of Brahms. After mastering his art, he proved himself to be a composer of great versatility and fecundity. A diligent and meticulous craftsman, he brought to his finest works a seemingly inexhaustible and spontaneous melodic invention, rhythmic variety, judicious employment of national folk tunes, and contrapuntal and harmonic skill. Many of his last works have become staples of the repertoire.


(the B. numbers are those established by J. Burghauser in A. D.: Thematic Catalogue, Bibliography, and Survey of Life and Work [Prague, 1960; 2nd edu 1997]): DRAMATIC: Opera : Alfred, B.16 (1870; Czech Theater, Olomouc, Dec. 10, 1938); Kraá a uhlíř (King and Charcoal Burner), B.21 (1stversion, 1871; National Theater, Prague, May 28, 1929; 2ndversion, 1874, with music recomposed, op.14, B.42; Provisional Theater, Prague, Nov. 24, 1874; rev. 1887 and listed as B.151; National Theater, Prague, June 15, 1887); Tvrde police (The Stubborn Lovers), op.17, B.46 (1874; New Czech Theater, Prague, Oct. 2,1881); Vanda, op.25, B.55 (1875; Provisional Theater, Prague, April 17, 1876; rev. 1879 and 1883); Selma sedldk (The Cunning Peasant), op.37, B.67 (1877; Provisional Theater, Prague, Jan. 27, 1878); Dmitri], op.64, B.127 (1881–82; New Czech Theater, Prague, Oct. 8, 1882; rev. 1883, 1885, and 1894–95; the latter is listed as B.186; National Theater, Prague, Nov. 7,1894); Jakobín (The Jacobin), op.84, B.159 (1887–88; National Theater, Prague, Feb. 12, 1889; rev. 1897 and listed as B.200; National Theater, Prague, June 19, 1898): Čért a Káča (The Devil and Kate), op.112, B.201 (1898–99; National Theater, Prague, Nov. 23,1899); Rusalka, op.114, B.203 (1900; National Theater, Prague, March 31, 1901); Armida, op.115, B.206 (1902–03; National Theater, Prague, March 25, 1904). Also the overture Domov muj (My Home), B.125a, and the incidental music to F. Samberk’s drama Josef Kajetdn Tyl, op.62, B.125 (1881–82; Provisional Theater, Prague, Feb. 3, 1882). ORCH.: Syms.: No. 1 in C minor, Zlonicke zvony (The Bells of Zlonice), B.9 (1865; score lost until 1923; Brno, Oct. 4, 1936); No. 2 in B- flat major, op.4, B.12 (1865; rev. 1887; Prague, March 11, 1888); No. 3 in E- flat major, op.10, B.34 (1873; Prague, March 29, 1874, Smetana conducting); No. 4 in D minor, op. 13, B.41 (scherzo only perf. in Prague, May 25, 1874, Smetana conducting; 1st complete perf. in Prague, April 6, 1892, composer conducting); No. 5 (old No. 3, op.24) in F major, op.76, B.54 (1875; Prague, March 25, 1879; rev. 1887); No. 6 (old No. 1, op.58) in D major, op.60, B.112 (1880; Prague, March 25, 1881); No. 7 (old No. 2) in D minor, op.70, B.141 (1884–85; London, April 22, 1885, composer conducting; rev. 1885); No. 8 (old No. 4) in G major, op.88, B.163 (1889; Prague, Feb. 2, 1890, composer conducting); No. 9 (old No. 5) in E minor, Z noveho svtta (From the New World), op.95, B.178 (N.Y., Dec. 15 [public rehearsal], Dec. 16 [official premiere], 1893, Anton Seidl conducting); Cello Concerto in A major, B.10 (1865; left unorchestrated; unidiomatic ed. by G. Raphael, 1929; later ed. by J. Burghauser, 1977); Piano Concerto in G minor, op.33, B.63 (1876; Prague, March 24, 1878; rev. 1883); Violin Concerto in A minor, op.53, B.96 and 108 (1879–80; rev. 1882; Prague, Oct. 14,1883); Cello Concerto in B minor, op.104, B.191 (1894–95; rev. 1895; London, March 19, 1896, Leo Stern soloist, composer conducting). Overtures : Tragic Overture (Dramatic Over-965 ture), B.16a (1870; overture from the opera Alfred)’, Concert Overture in F major, B.21a (1871; overture from the 1st version of the opera Král a uhlíř Prague, April 14, 1872, Smetana conducting); Romeo and Juliet, B.35 (not extant); Husitskd (Hus-site), op.67, B.132 (Prague, Nov. 18, 1883); Triple Overture or Přiroda, Život a Iáska (Nature, Life, and Love), op.91, Nos. 1–3 (1891–92; Prague, April 28, 1892, composer conducting; later listed as V přírode (In Nature’s Realm), op.91, B.168, Karneval (Carnival), op.92, B.169, and Othello, op.93, B.174). S y m p h o n i c P o e m s : Vodník (The Watersprite), op.107, B.195 (London, Nov. 14, 1896, Henry J. Wood conducting); Polednice (The Noonday Witch), op. 108, B.196 (London, Nov. 21, 1896, Wood conducting); Zlatý kolovrat (The Golden Spinning Wheel), op.109, B.197 (London, Oct. 26,1896, Hans Richter conducting); Holoubek (The Wild Dove), op.110, B.198 (1896; Briinn, March 20, 1898, Leos Janacek conducting); Píseň bohatýrská (Heroic Song), op.lll, B.199 (1897; Vienna, Dec. 4,1898, Gustav Mahler conducting). OTHER: Romance in F minor for Violin and Orch., op.ll, B.39 (1873–79; a transcription of the andante con moto of the String Quartet in F minor, op.9, B.37); Symphonic Poem or Rhapsody in A minor, op.14, B.44 (1874); Nocturne in B major for String Orch., op.40, B.47 (1875?; from the String Quartet in E minor, B.19, and the String Quintet in G major, B.49; rev. 1882–83); Serenade in E major for Strings, op.22, B.52 (1875; Prague, Dec. 10,1876); Symphonic Variations on a theme from the men’s chorus Jájsem huslař (I Am a Fiddler), op.78 (old28), B.70 (Prague, Dec. 2, 1877); Serenade in D minor for Wind Instruments, op.44, B.77 (Prague, Nov. 17, 1878); 3 Slavonic Rhapsodies, op.45, B.86 (Nos. 1 and 2, Prague, Nov. 17, 1878, composer conducting; No. 3, 1878); 8 Slavonic Dances, op.46, B.83 (1878); Czech Suite in D major, op.39, B.93 (Prague, May 16, 1879); Mazurek for Violin and Orch., op.49, B.90 (1879); 10 Legendy (Legends), op.59, B.122 (1881; orchestrated from a piano duet version); Scherzo capriccioso, op.66, B.131 (Prague, May 16, 1883); 8 Slavonic Dances, op.72, B.147 (1886–87); Rondo in G minor for Cello and Orch., op.94, B.181 (1893); Klid (Silent Woods) for Cello and Orch., op.68/5, B.182 (1893); Suite in A major, op.98b, B.190 (1895–96). CHAMBER : S t r i n g Q u a r t e t s : A major, op.2, B.8 (1862; rev. 1887); B-flat major, B.17 (1869–70); D major, B.18 (1869–70); E minor, B.19 (1870); F minor, op.9, B.37 (1873; original version not extant; publ. version by G. Raphael, 1929); A minor, op.12, B.40 (1873, unfinished; completed by J. Burghauser and publ. in the complete ed. of Dvořák’s works in 1979); A minor, op.16, B.45 (1874); E major, op.80 (originally op.27), B.57 (1876; rev. 1888); D minor, op.34, B.75 (1877; rev. 1879); E-flat major, op.51, B.92 (1878–79); C major, op.61, B.121 (1881); F major, The American, op.96, B.179 (1893); G major, op. 106, B.192 (1895); A-flat major, op.105, B.193 (1895). S t r i n g Q u i n t e t s : A minor for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello, op.l, B.7 (1861; rev. 1887); G major for 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass, op.77 (originally op.18), B.49 (1875; rev. 1888); E-flat major for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello, The American, op.97, B.180 (1893); also a Sextet in A major for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and 2 Cellos, op.48, B.80 (1878). Piano T r i o s : Op.13/1, B.25 (1871–72; not extant); op.13/2, B.26 (1871–72; not extant); B-flat major, op.21, B.51 (1875); G minor, op.26, B.56 (1876); F minor, op.65, B.130 (1883); Dumkas (Dumky) Trio, op.90, B.166 (1890–91). Q u i n t e t s : A major, op.5, B.28 (1872); A major, op.81, B.155 (1887). Q u a r t e t s : D major, op.23, B.53 (1875); E-flat major, op.87, B.162 (1889). O t h e r : Sonata in F minor for Cello and Piano, B.20 (1870–71; not extant); Sonata in A minor for Violin and Piano, B.33 (1873; not extant); Sonata in F major for Violin and Piano, op.57, B.106 (1880); also many solo keyboard pieces, duets, etc.

VOCAL: Choral : Mass in B-flat major, B.2 (1857–59; not extant); Dgdicove bile hory (The Heirs of the White Mountain) or Hymnus for Chorus and Orch., op.30, B.27 (1872; Prague, March 9, 1873; rev. 1880 and listed as B.102; rev. 1884 and perf. in London, May 13, 1885, composer conducting); Stabat Mater for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op.58, B.71 (1876–77; Prague, Dec. 23, 1880); 149th Psalm, op.79, B.91 (1st version for Men’s Chorus and Orch., 1879; Prague, March 16, 1879; 2nd version for Mixed Chorus and Orch., 1887, and listed as B.154; Boston, Feb. 27, 1890); Svatebni kosile (The Spectre’s Bride), cantata for Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op.69, B.135 (1884; Pilsen, March 28, 1885, composer conducting); St. Ludmila, oratorio for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op.71, B.144 (1885–86; Leeds Festival, Oct. 15, 1886, composer conducting; with added recitative, 1901, and listed as B.205; this version 1st perf. as Svatd Ludmila in Prague, Oct. 30, 1901); Mass in D major for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (or Semi-Chorus), Chorus, and Organ, op.86, B.153 (1st perf. privately, Luzany, Sept. 11,1887; rev. version for orch., 1892, and listed as B.175; London, March 11, 1893); Requiem Mass for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op.89, B.165 (1890; Birmingham Festival, Oct. 9, 1891, composer conducting); Te Deum for Soprano, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op.103, B.176 (N.Y., Oct. 21, 1892, composer conducting); Americky prapor (The American Flag), cantata for Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch., op. 102, B.177 (1892–93; N.Y., May 4, 1895); Slavnostni zp$v (Festival Song) or Ode for Chorus and Orch., op.113, B.202 (1st perf. privately, Prague, May 29, 1900). O t h e r V o c a l : Numerous songs, including Cypfise (Cypresses), B.ll (18 songs, 1865); Biblicke pisne (Biblical Songs), op.99, B.185 (10 songs, 1894); also the Moravske dvojzpey (Moravian Duets), 3 sets: for Soprano or Contralto and Tenor, op.20, B.50 (1875), for Soprano and Contralto, op.32, B.60 and 62 (1876), and for Soprano and Contralto, op.38, B.69 (1877).


O. Sourek inaugurated a complete ed. of D.’s works, which commenced publ. in Prague in 1955. The standard thematic catalog was compiled by J. Burghauser as A. D.: Thematic Catalogue, Bibliography, and Survey of Life and Work (in Czech, Ger., and Eng.; Prague, 1960; 2nd ed., 1997). See also the following: J. Bartos, A. D. (Prague, 1913); O. Sourek, Zivot a dilo A.a D.a (The Life and Work of A. D.; 4 vols., Prague, 1916–33; Vols. I-II, 3rd ed., 1955–56; Vols. III-IV, 2nd ed., 1957–58; in an abr. Ger. tr. by P. Stefan as D.: Leben und Werk, 1 vol., Vienna, 1935; in Eng. tr. by Y. Vance as A. D., N.Y, 1941); idem, D.’s Werke: Bin vollstandiges Verzeichnis in chronologischer, thematischer und systematischer Anordnung (Berlin, 1917; rev. Czech ed., Prague, 1960); idem, D.ovy symfonie (Prague, 1922; 3rd ed., 1948; abr. Ger. ed. in A. D. Werkanalysen I, Orchesterwerke, Prague, 1954, and in Eng. in The Orchestral Works of A. D., Prague, 1956); K. Hoffmeister, A. D. (Prague, 1924; Eng. tr. by R. Newmarch, London, 1928); O. Sourek, A. D. (Prague, 1929; 4th ed., 1947; Eng. tr. as A. D.: His Life and Work, Prague, 1952); idem, D.ve vzpominkach a dopisech (Prague, 1938; 9th ed., 1951; Eng. tr. as D.: Letters and Reminiscences, Prague, 1954); H. Sirp, A. D. (Potsdam, 1939); O. Sourek, D.ovy skladby komorni (Prague, 1943; 2nd ed., 1949; abr. ed. in Ger. in A. D. Werkanalysen II, Kammermusik, Prague, 1954, and in Eng. in The Chamber Music of A. D., Prague, 1956); idem, D.ovy skladby orchestralni (2 vols., Prague, 1944 and 1946; abr. ed. in Ger. in A. D. Werkanalysen I, Orchesterwerke, Prague, 1954, and in Eng. in The Orchestral Works of A. D., Prague, 1956); A. Robertson, D. (London, 1945; 2nd ed., 1964); H. Kull, D.s Kammermusik (Bern, 1948); H. Boese, Zwei Urmusikanten: Smetana, D. (Zurich, 1955); A. Hofejs, A. D.: The Composer’s Life and Work in Pictures (Prague, 1955); R. Smetana, A. D.: O místo a význam skladatelského díla v Českém hudebnim vyvoji(A. D.: The Place and Meaning of D/s Compositions in the Development of Czech Music; Prague, 1956); A. Sychra, EstetikaD.ovy symfonické tvorby (The Aesthetics of D/s Symphonic Work; Prague, 1959; in Ger. as A. D.: Zur Asthetik seines sinfonischen Schaffens, Leipzig, 1973); M. Aborn, The Influence on American Musical Culture of D/s Sojourn in America (Ann Arbor, 1966); J. Burghauser, A. D. (Prague, 1966; in Ger. and Eng., 1967); J. Clapham, A. D.: Musician and Craftsman (London and N.Y., 1966); E. Herzog, A. D. v obrazech (A. D. in Pictures; Prague, 1966); G. Hughes, D.: His Life and Music (N.Y., 1967); J. Berkovec, A. D. (Prague, 1969); K. Honolka, A. D. in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbek, 1974); R. Layton, D. Symphonies and Concertos (London, 1978); J. Clapham, D. (London and N.Y, 1979); N. Butterworth, D.: His Life and Times (Tunbridge Wells, 1980); H.-H. Schonzeler, D. (London, 1984); K. Doge and P. Jost, eds., D.-Studien (Mainz and N.Y, 1994); D. Beveridge, ed., Rethinking D.: Views from Five Countries (Oxford, 1996); M. Irrgang, A. D.: Untersuchungen zur Formentwicklung in den drei ersten Symphonien (Frankfurt am Main, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire