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Profile of Antonin Dvorak

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Born:

September 8, 1841; his parents were Frantisek and Anna. They had 8 children, Antonin was the oldest.

Birthplace:

Nelahozeves, near Kralupy, Prague (Czech Republic)

Died:

May 1, 1904 in Prague due to Bright's disease.

Also Known As:

He was a composer, conductor and teacher, whose later works reflected Brahmsian Classicism, Czech nationalist style and American folk influences. He has honorary degrees from several prestigious universities including Cambridge University.

Type of Compositions:

He wrote symphonies, string quartets, operas, songs and piano music, among others.

Influence:

Dvorak's initial influence came from his father, Frantisek, who played the zither. He began taking violin and voice lessons when he was 6 years old under Joseph Spitz. Dvorak furthered his studies in violin, voice and other instruments under the guidance of Antonin Leihmann and Joseph Toman. Then, he entered the Prague Organ School in 1857 where he received instruction on counterpoint, improvisation, music theory and other key elements of composition. He furthered his experience by playing viola with the Cecilia Society.

Music Career:

By 1859 he was playing viola with a small band. He later become the principal viola for the Prague Provisional Theater Orchestra, a post he held for 7 years. Afterward, he turned to teaching and composing. In 1875 Dvorak won the Austrian State Prize for his "Symphony in E Flat." In 1891 he became a professor at the Prague Conservatory. He moved to America in 1892 and became artistic director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. In 1895 Dvorak returned to Prague and became director of the Prague Conservatory in 1901.

Notable Works:

His most famous work is the Ninth Symphony from the "New World Symphony" (first performed in New York in 1893). Other works include "Te Deum," "Cypress Trees" (song cycle), "First Symphony," "The Bells of Zlonice," "Alfred" (opera), "Hymnus" (cantata), "Third Symphony" (won the Austrian State Stipendium), "Stabat Mater," "String Quartet in F major," "The American," "Cello Concerto," "Biblical Songs" and "Humoresque in G flat major."

Interesting Facts:

Dvorak fell in love with Josefina Cermakova, one of his students. But it was Anna Cermakova, Josefina's younger sister, whom he would eventually marry in 1873. The couple had 6 children. Johannes Brahms expressed admiration for Dvorak's works and recommended Dvorak's compositions to Simrock Works, a publisher. In 1876, Simrock published Dvorak's Moravian Duets followed by his Slavonic Dances in 1878, further cementing Dvorak's fame.

Music Sample:

Lots of music samples from Naxos Choose a link at the bottom then once the page opens, click "Watch Preview."

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