What makes Dvorak's music so unique

175 years agoBorn composer Antonín Dvořák

The Bohemian musician Antonín Dvořák, he is 51 years old, travels with his family from Prague to New York in September 1892. He was invited by the President of the National Conservatory of Music, a millionaire's wife. Dvořák is supposed to teach students how to compose. But the lady has other things in mind.

"Americans expect great things from me, above all I should create national music for them." Antonín Dvořák takes his job in America seriously, for example he studies spirituals and Indian melodies. But then composes his own new orchestral work, his ninth symphony, the one with the famous nickname: Symphony "From the New World".

"From the New World" Dvořák's most played piece worldwide

In December 1893, Dvořák's "From the New World" symphony, the most famous and most performed piece of music in the world, was performed for the first time in New York's Carnegie Hall. Dvořák only used a few folkloric sound elements in it, the Bohemian "dialect" is so to speak overwhelming. Homesickness too: the composer is returning to his country after two and a half years.

In a town near Prague, on September 8, 1841, Antonín Dvořák was born as the first of nine children. The father plays the zither, the boy chooses the violin, learns to play the piano and organ. Dvorak is only gradually making his own music public: as a composer he is self-taught; when studying music, his teachers are Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann. It is the string quartet that fascinates him early on, until the end it remains his territory.

Classical-romantic tonal language and elements of Bohemian folk music

As in this twelfth string quartet, composed in America, Dvořák combines in all his compositions the classical-romantic tonal language with elements of Bohemian folk music, as well as with Slavic feelings. And he admired, not a matter of course at the time, Wagner and Brahms, the adversaries of the era. Brahms valued and encouraged Dvořák. The comparisons between the two composers are all too popular, but they are usually misleading. The conductor Christoph von Dohnányi knows.

"Dvořák was a completely different type of musician. He is a spontaneous, direct musician who writes without formal reservations. One should not underestimate how much Dvořák thought when composing. People always believe that the so-called stomach determined composers . There is a control of the supposed belly through the heart and vice versa, and also of the mind and the heart. "

Rich in ideas, forms, emotions

Dvořák's unique cello concerto, also admired by Brahms, was written in America, like the symphony "From the New World". His musical work, rich in ideas, forms, emotions, expands in breadth and depth. In addition to a lot of vocal and chamber music, the Slavonic dances, nine symphonies, oratorios, the late symphonic poems based on ballads by Wassermann, the Mittagshexe or the Waldtaube are created. He wrote his best opera, Rusalka, towards the end of his life.

The cello concerto is a solitaire, the only significant piece of music in the 19th century for this sonorous instrument with orchestra. Dvořák was able to grow to a European size. Honored around the world, Antonín Dvořák died on
May 1, 1904 in Prague.