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Oct 13, 2018 2:00 PM - Nov 9, 2018 12:00 AM

Exhibition: Antonín Dvořák - Cello Concerto in B minor

The manuscript of Dvořák's famous Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, visits U.S. for the first time ever. The exhibition and display of this unique score, which was conceived in New York City begins during Open House NY.



October 13 - November 9, 2018
CCNY Gallery

The last work Dvořák composed in America was his beloved Cello Concerto in B minor. Dvořák had doubts about the cello as a solo instrument, but after hearing the premiere performances of the Cello Concerto No. 2 by Victor Herbert, his colleague at the National Conservatory of Music of America, he was inspired to fulfill a request by a prominent Czech cellist, Hanuš Wihan, and composed a cello concerto of his own. The concerto was first read through in February 1895, in the parlor of Dvořák's house on Manhattan's East 17th Street, during a visit of the Kneisel Quartet from Boston by the quartet's cellist, Alwin Shroeder––the "first hearing in history"–– with the maestro at the piano.

In collaboration with the National Museum in Prague and Carnegie Hall Archives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.


Antonín Dvořák – a composer of global renown

Although Dvořák’s music has been described in the past as national, spontaneous, and joyful, in truth it is distinguished by a far greater sophistication. The essential features of Dvořák’s distinctive style are rich invention, clever rhythm, colorful orchestral sound, clear form, and depth of expression.

Dvořák’s musical journey led from the village of Nelahozeves to the Prague Organ School, after which he set out on the path of the practical musician. This “simple Czech musician”, as he later modestly described himself, gained his experience as a violist in Komzák’s band and in the orchestra of the Provisional Theatre. His rst compositional success was also an international breakthrough in his career. Thanks to his Moravian Duets, which caught the attention of a Viennese grant committee and were soon published by the German publisher Simrock, the thirty- -seven-year-old Dvořák became a celebrity overnight. His popularity was aided by numerous international trips where he introduced his work to the world from the conductor’s podium. His frequent and notable appearances in England led to an invitation to America and an offer for the position of director at the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York, which grew into a three-year stay across the sea.
The composer, whose life motto was God, love, homeland!, died unexpectedly, honored by the entire world, on 1 May 1904 in Prague.


Cello Concerto in B minor

Antonín Dvořák was not especially partial to the sound of the cello. He acknowledged the instrument’s use in orchestras and chamber ensembles but regarded it as unsuitable for solo play. With his 1865 cello concerto left un nished, the composer could not be persuaded to attempt any other extensive solo composition for the instrument even by his close friend, the brilliant cellist Hanuš Wihan.

Dvořák changed his opinion during the last year of his American period, influenced by his experience of the premiere of Cello Concerto No. 2 by Victor Herbert, an American composer, the rst cellist of the New York Philharmonic, and Dvořák’s colleague at the National Conservatory in New York. Dvořák attended the performance in March 1894, and after a brief pause he composed his own concerto for cello during three months from November 1894 to February 1895.

The work has strong ties to Dvořák’s personal life. It is a reminiscence of his first love and later sister-in-law, Josefína Čermáková, who was suffering from a grave illness at the time of the concerto’s writing. As a memento of her, the second movement included a quotation of her favorite song Lasst mich allein from his cycle Four Songs. When she died soon after, in May 1895, Dvořák reworked the composition and added the same melody into the concerto’s last movement, imbuing it with an unusually calm and reverential finale.




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


From: Oct 13, 2018 2:00 PM
To: Nov 9, 2018 12:00 AM


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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