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Antonin Dvořák

Antonin Dvořák

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Antonin Dvořák

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  1. Antonin Dvořák

  2. Carnival Overture 1891 Played by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

  3. Dvořák was born in 1841 in Nelahozeves, Bohemia, near Prague in what is now the Czech Republic. He was the son of a butcher, and his father hoped he would follow in his footsteps. Dvořák birth house in Nelahozeves

  4. France Bohemia Hungary Italy Austria

  5. Nelahozeves

  6. Dvořák trained as a butcher but also took music lessons at the local village school. At age 16 he left for Prague to study at the organ school there, with the reluctant blessing of his parents. While there he also became proficient on the violin and viola. This came in handy, for he made his living throughout the 1860’s as a viola player in the Prague National Theater, whose principal conductor after 1866 was the famous Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. Dvořák made the equivalent of $7.50 a week (probably around $800 in current dollars).

  7. After marrying in 1873 Dvořák left the National Theater to become organist of St. Adalbert’s Church in Prague. This paid quite a bit better and allowed him some free time to compose. The higher social standing of this position was important in making new contacts. By 1875 Dvořák had produced five symphonies, two string quintets, a piano trio, at least one opera, and a baby boy (with the help of his wife, of course).

  8. 1875 was also a year of sadness for Dvořák, as his new baby daughter died, one of three of his children to die in infancy. He poured out his grief in his Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor, followed by his Stabat Mater, the Latin text of which expresses Mary’s mourning over the death of her son Jesus Christ. The following year was extraordinarily productive for Dvořák, which saw his Symphony No. 5, String Serenade and String Quintet No. 2, among others.

  9. In 1877 Dvořák learned from the influential critic Eduard Hanslick that his music had come to the attention of Johannes Brahms, the most famous composer in Europe at the time and much admired by Dvořák. Brahms interceded with his publisher Simrock on Dvořák’s behalf in order to get some of his music published. The two later became fast friends, in spite of Dvořák’s admiration for the music of Richard Wagner.

  10. Simrock’s published versions of Dvořák’s music were immediately successful. This led to the successful premiere abroad of his Stabat Mater in 1880, which in turn earned him an invitation to visit England, which he did to great acclaim in 1883. Subsequently he wrote his Symphony No. 7 for a performance in London, which ocurred in 1885. In all, Dvořák visited London nine times, often conducting his own works..

  11. In the early 1870’s Dvořák labored under the influence of Richard Wagner, a phase that lasted about five years. The major works during this time were his first symphony and the opera “The King and the Charcoal Burner”, which failed. Eventually he decided Wagner was better at being Wagner than he was, and went in a new direction. That direction was folk music, which Dvořák attempted to work into his compositions to give them a Czech national flavor. When he later came to America he encouraged American composers to do the same with their folk music.

  12. While Dvořák studied folk music, he never used actual folk tunes in his music but rather the rhythms, inflections, intervals and forms that made them characteristically Czech. Dance forms were especially influential, particularly the “dumka” and the “furiant”. Dvořák’s attempts to produce a national style of music extended to his many operas, many of which were based on Bohemian or Czech stories and fairy tales. Many were fine works, but only Rusalka holds the international stage today.

  13. Dvořák met the prominent Russian composer PiotrIlyich Tchaikovsky while the latter was in Prague preparing for a production of his opera Eugene Onegin at the National Theater. Dvořák admired the work, calling it “such beautiful music as permeates the soul and cannot be forgotten”. During his visit Tchaikovsky heard rehearsals of Dvořák ‘s Seventh Symphony, which he admired. This meeting led to invitations to visit Russia, which he did in 1889 and succeding years. He conducted orchestras in Moscow and St. Petersburg in his own works.

  14. Around 1889 Dvořák was offered a job as professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory. At first he turned it down, but then accepted it, probably due to financial problems due to payment disagreements with his publisher Simrock over his Eighth Symphony. In 1891 Dvořák was awarded an honorary degree by Cambridge University in recognition of his contribution to the musical life of England. He responded with his Requiem, premiered later that year at the Triennial Music Festival in Birmingham. That same year he was awarded another honorary degree from Charles University in Prague.

  15. Soon after receiving his Cambridge degree Dvořák started work on the Overture “Carnival”. It was to be part of a set of three concert overtures or tone poems on the subjects of “Nature, Life and Love”. The first eventually became “In Nature’s Realm”, the second “Carnival”, and the third “Othello”. The three are connected by a theme which appears in all three, given first to the clarinets in each case. Dvořák gave the premiere of the set on April 28, 1892 at the Rudolfinium in Prague during a series of concerts he gave of his own music before departing for America in the fall.

  16. Dvořák said that the Carnival Overture was meant to depict "a lonely, contemplative wanderer reaching at twilight a city where a festival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of the people giving vent to their feelings in songs and dances." Into the basic sonata plan of the piece, he inserted, at the beginning of the development section, a haunting and wistful paragraph led by the English horn and flute to portray, he said, "a pair of straying lovers," the wanderer apparently having found a companion. Following this tender, contrasting episode, the festive music returns and mounts to a spirited coda to conclude this evergreen Overture.

  17. In 1892 Dvořák was contacted by Mrs. Jeannette Thurber, a wealthy New York socialite and philanthropist, to become the director of the newly formed National Conservatory at an unheard of salary of $15,000 per year. She also requested Dvořák write a piece to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the new world on a text Mrs. Thurber provided. The piece would be performed upon Dvořák’s arrival in New York. Dvořák accepted on both counts. The promised poem did not arrive, however, and Dvořák feared he would not have enough time to complete the piece. So he turned to the ancient hymn of the church “Te Deum Laudamus” (Thee, O God, we praise) for his text. The hymn inspired some of Dvořák’s best music, and the performance was a success.

  18. While in New York Dvořák encouraged American composers to craft an American national music using native themes, much as he had done for Bohemia. He met with many American musical leaders, including the arranger of African-American spirituals Harry T. Burleigh. Dvořák was taken enough with American folk music that it served as inspiration for his symphony “From the New World”, finished in New York in 1893. While working in New York became terribly homesick. He heard about a Czech farming community in Iowa, Spillville by name, from a Czech-American businessman. After finishing the “New World” symphony Dvořák went there to spend the summer of 1893. He drew much comfort from conversations with his fellow-countrymen there.

  19. While in SpillvilleDvořák completed a string quintet and the “American” string quartet, one of his most famous works. The quartet was first read by a group in Chicago, where the Dvořáks stopped to take in the 1893 World’s Fair, as they had on the way to Spillville from New York. It is also probable that Dvořák first got the inspiration for his opera Rusalka in Spillville, when he happened on a local “water nymph” bathing nude in the Turkey River. Dvořák’s homesickness was not completely assuaged by his contact with the Spillvillians, and when Mrs. Thurber started having trouble paying his salary Dvořák resigned his position and went back home to Bohemia to become the director of the Prague Conservatory.

  20. After returning to Prague in 1895 Dvořák went to London to hear the premiere of his now-famous Cello Concerto. Later he began work on what became his most well-known opera, “Rusalka”. The story, based on Czech folk-tales, is kind of a twisted version of “The Little Mermaid”. Dvořák had become a hero in his native land. Sadly he did not live to enjoy his status very long, for he died of heart failure after a five-week illness in 1904. His funeral was a national event.

  21. Rusalka

  22. Song to the Moon sung by Anna Netrebko

  23. Rusalka is daughter of the Water Goblin who rules the lake. She falls in love with a princewho comes to the area to hunt, and wants to become human so she can be with him. The witch Jezibaba tells her it is a bad idea; if she becomes human she will lose the power of speech, and if the Prince betrays her, they will both be damned. Rusalka drinks the proffered potion anyway, and pleads with the moon to tell the prince of her love.

  24. Written to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage to the new world.

  25. Te Deum laudamus:te Dominum confitemur.Te aeternum Patremomnis terra veneratur. We praise thee, O God:    we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.All the earth doth worship thee,    the Father everlasting.

  26. Tibi omnesAngeli;tibicaeli et universaePotestates;Tibi Cherubim et Seraphimincessabili voce proclamant: To thee all Angels cry aloud;    the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.To thee Cherubim and Seraphim    continually do cry:

  27. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,Dominus Deus Sabaoth.Plenisuntcaeli et terramajestatisgloriaetuae. Holy, Holy, Holy :    Lord God of Sabaoth;Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.

  28. Te gloriosusApostolorumchorus,TeProphetarumlaudabilisnumerus,Te Martyrum candidatuslaudat exercitus. The glorious company of the Apostles  praise thee.The goodly fellowship of the Prophets  praise thee.The noble army of Martyrs  praise thee.

  29. Te per orbemterrarumsancta confitetur Ecclesia,Patremimmensaemajestatis:Venerandumtuumverum et unicumFilium;Sanctum quoque ParaclitumSpiritum. The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;The Father of an infinite Majesty; Thinehonourable, true and only Son; Also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.

  30. Te Deum laudamus:te Dominum confitemur.Te aeternum Patremomnis terra veneratur. We praise thee, O God :    we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.All the earth doth worship thee :    the Father everlasting.

  31. Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius. Thou art the King of Glory O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son  of the Father.

  32. Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,non horruisti Virginisuterum.Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,aperuisticredentibus regna caelorum. When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb. When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.

  33. We therefore pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.