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Oct 18, 2020 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Orchestral Masterwork: Dvořák's Cello Concerto

View a memorable performance of Antonín Dvořák’s American period masterwork, the most celebrated of cello concertos to this day, composed in New York City in early 1895.

Originally performed on March 26, 2017, Marcy Rosen, cello; Aaron Copland School of Music Orchestra; Maurice Peress, conductor

This program will be available for repeat viewing on DAHA YouTube Channel.

Organized by: DAHA

Photo: Allen Cohen and Peter Checchia

Photo: Allen Cohen and Peter Checchia

Program Notes

Antonin Dvořák (1841 - 1904): Cello Concerto in B minor Opus 104

Originally performed on March 26, 2017, Marcy Rosen, cello; Aaron Copland School of Music Orchestra; Maurice Peress, conductor

Dvořák’s fertile American output climaxed with the magnificent Cello Concerto, composed toward the end of his residency and directorship at the National Conservatory of Music of America, in early 1895.

Backstory: The musical lives of Dvořák and composer, cellist, Victor Herbert, two master musicians newly arrived in America, were inevitably intertwined. Herbert and his opera singer wife, Therese Förster, moved to New York from Vienna in 1886 when both were engaged by Walter Damrosch to join the newly formed Metropolitan Opera. Dvořák arrived in 1892 to become the new Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America, founded by President Jeannette Meyer Thurber, where Herbert taught cello. Herbert would lead the cello section of the New York Philharmonic at the 1893 premiere of the "New World" Symphony, and the premiere of his new Cello Concerto in 1894 inspired Dvořák to compose his own Cello Concerto in B minor opus 104, the culmination of his American works. It was premiered in London in 1895 and has remained the favorite of the world’s master cellists and inspired many recordings from Casals to Yo-Yo Ma.

Several Dvořák scholars find in the Cello Concerto musical clues connected to Countess Josefina Kounicová, Dvořák‘s first, unrequited, love. Like Mozart before him, Dvořák married the sister of the woman who had once captured his heart, and there is reason to believe those who say he never quite got over this passion. This originally came from information provided by the composer Josef Suk,  Dvořák’s son-in-law.  Mapped on to the concerto, it has been noted when he  heard Josephina was seriously ill Dvořák wrote the second movement, working in part of a song of his she admired, "Leave Me Alone ... You really cannot comprehend this ecstasy with which love has filled me ... (Opus 82).”  Upon news of her death Dvořák, who had completed the concerto, rewrote the end featuring a long coda with several evocative passages for the solo cello.  The key moment of this coda is another quotation of “Leave Me Alone,” this time a fragment of the song’s beginning. Another scholar has suggested a possible connection to another of Josefina's favorites (from the final duet of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin), conjuring up the emotionally significant text, "Happiness was so easy to reach, it was so close.”  We do not know whether Dvořák was actually in love with Josefina, or rather, whether her death stimulated him to create a kind of musical novel based on the idea of such a romance.  With or without its programmatic aspects, the concerto is one of the most powerful examples of the genre and one of Dvořák’s greatest works.

 Based on Notes by Conductor Maurice Peress, March 26, 2017


Sunday Only!

Special Virtual Tour of Bohemian National Hall and the Dvořák Room, offered as part of Open House New York‘s weekend celebration of New York architecture.  View the podcast here: https://ohny.org/sites/bohemiannationalhall 




Oct 18, 2020 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM


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