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Feb 13, 2004 12:00 AM - Mar 31, 2004 12:00 AM

Antonín Dvořák: A Composer´s Life in Pictures

Exhibition and screening at the Czech Center

The Czech Center New York presents an exhibition on
Antonín Dvořák’s life and work produced in cooperation
with BVA International and the Antonín Dvořák Museum
in Prague. The screening of documentary Antonín
Dvořák, Deo Gratias is made possible courtesy of the
film’s producer, BVA International.

Opening Fri, February 13, 6-9 pm
7 pm Remarks by Radoslav Kvapil, president of the Antonín Dvořák Society,
and a screening of the documentary film Anotnín Dvořák, Deo Gratias,  dir. Martin Suchánek

exhibiton on view throuhg March 31
Tue, Wed, Fri 9 am-5 pm, Thu 9 am-7 pm

Czech Center New York

Czech Music 2004

The upcoming year marks a number of anniversaries relating to important Czech composers, including Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904), Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884), and Leoš Janáček (1854–1928), as well as several distinguished interpreters and important organizations.

As a reaction to the spontaneous preparations of musical organizations for these important cultural anniversaries, The Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic has created a program entitled Czech Music 2004, which provides support to all such important initiatives in the Czech Republic as well as abroad. The Czech Center New York, by extension, will become an information source and supporter of events celebrating Czech music in the United States.

The musical jubilee celebrations also coincide with the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union in May 2004. The program of Czech Music 2004 aims to both deepen national musical culture and create a cultural representation of the Czech state abroad.

Antonín Dvořák Centennial Celebrations

The first Czech composer to be celebrated in the Czech Center New York program this year is Antonín Dvořák. Throughout the year, we will witness numerous celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Dvořák’s death held all around the United States, all reflecting the respect and eager reception showed by American audiences and musicians for his music.

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) came from an environment of farmers and minor tradesmen in Nelahozeves nad Vltavou, where he was born. He studied music at an organ school in Prague, but subsequently he had to play viola in Komzak’s band and in the Provisional Theatre orchestra for eleven years. He also taught music to minimally talented girls from rich families to support his family, and played organ in St. Adalbert church in the New Town of Prague. His living was modest. Despite that, he cherished a yearning to become a professional composer. In 1874 Dvořák applied for an Austrian government grant for artists. One of the judges was Johannes Brahms, who recommended his publisher to issue Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, which met with resounding success. Dvořák became a celebrated artist almost overnight.

First and foremost, though, he was a genius of composition. Whereas Bedřich Smetana consciously created music that was typically Czech, Dvořák went further. He soon became a truly Slavic composer as he drew his musical inspiration from Moravia, Slovakia, Poland, and Russia. He mined Slavic music for archaic harmonic modes, strange modulations, and a whole new wealth of rhythms and melodic turns, which were all novel and attractive. Works such as the Slavonic Dances, Slavonic Rhapsodies, String Quartet E flat major, String Sextet A major, Piano Trio “Dumky”, and many others prove this Slavic inspiration unmistakably.

In 1892 he accepted the post of director of the newly established National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Dvořák was probably the only European composer who, being experienced in Slavic music, could show Americans both in theory and practice how they needed to compose to ensure that their music had national character. Their country had its own folklore – that of the African – and Native Americans. On October 21, 1892, he conducted his first concert at Carnegie Hall presenting his new overtures: In Nature, Carnival, and Othello.

Dvořák desperately wanted to return to Bohemia. But since his busy schedule would not allow such a long voyage, he decided to spend the summer of 1893 in Spillville, a small Czech settlement in northeastern Iowa. It was said that the following morning, before many of the townspeople were astir, Dvořák arose and proceeded to the site of Riverside Park, along the Turkey River, to commune with nature and enjoy the sound of birds and feast his eyes on the beauties of the region. Within five days of his arrival, he composed his “American” String Quartet. In the Midwest, Dvořák also visited Czech-American communities in Chicago, Omaha, and St. Paul, and made an excursion to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. While at the falls, Dvo.ák composed one of the themes for his Violin Sonatina, notating the melody on his shirt cuff. In 1893 the Symphony No. 9, subtitled From the New World, premiered in Carnegie Hall.

In 1895 Dvořák started to suffer from homesickness and decided to return to Europe permanently. In the last part of his career he devoted himself mainly to opera. Jakobin, Kate and the Devil, Rusalka, and Armida are among the operatic works that are staged most often. He created nine symphonies, 16 string quartets, symphonic poems based on balladic themes, a quantity of orchestral works, choir works, songs, and compositions for violin and piano.

Antonín Dvořák is the best known and world’s most-performed Czech composer. His musical inventiveness was bottomless, and the beauty of his melodies unique.




Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


From: Feb 13, 2004 12:00 AM
To: Mar 31, 2004 12:00 AM


Czech Center New York

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