Antonín Dvorak (1841 - 1904)
Born: Sept 08, 1841, Nelahozeves, Bohemia, Austrian Empire
Died: May 01, 1904, Prague

Antonín Dvorak spent most of his life in Prague.

Dvorak’s parents recognized his musical talent early, and he fortunately received his earliest musical education as the village school which he entered in 1847. Dvorak later studied at the Prague Organ. In 1866 Dvorak played viola in the orchestra that was conducted by Bedrich Smetana.

For three times between 1874 to1877, Dvorak had won the Asutrain State Stipendium, thus gained the attention of Johannes Brahms. In 1878, Brahms assisted him to get his compositions published. This marked the beginning of his fame, as a number of his work was put on performance, including the popular Salvonic dances.

Dvorak visited Russia in 1890, at the same time continued to launch new works in Prague and London. He took up a teaching post at the Prague Conservatory in 1891 (where Joseph Suk was among his most gifted pupils). Before leaving for the USA he toured Bohemia playing the new Dumky Trio.

Between 1892 – 1895, Dvorak, as the director of the National Conservatory in New York, taught composition  while  producing the famous Ninth Symphony, From the New World, the String Quartet in F, the String Quintet in E-flat and the Cello Concerto.

Due to financial and family reasons, he went back to Prague where he began to write symphonic poems and finally had his efforts at dramatic music rewarded with the success of the fairytale opera Rusalka (1901).

He died in Prague on 1 May 1904, remained a modest man of simple tastes, loyal to his Czech nationality.

Dvorak’s composition display strong influences of Czech folk music. Such includes the furiant and dumky dance traits, polka rhythms or the immediate repetition of an initial bar. He admired a number of classical composers, including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert. Musically, he was also influenced by Wagner and Brahms.

His popular Ninth Symphony and the appealing Slavonic Dances and Slavonic Rhapsodies fully displayed his characteristic richness and eloquence.

~ Written by Boon Sin Ler

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