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Antonin Dvorak Edit Profile


also known as Antonín Leopold Dvořák

Composer , musician

Antonin Leopold Dvorak was a first Bohemian composer to achieve worldwide recognition, noted for turning folk material into the language of 19th-century Romantic music. He composed operas, choral music, a wide variety of chamber music, concerti and many other orchestral and vocal and instrumental pieces. Among Dvorak's best known works are his New World Symphony, the "American" String Quartet, the opera Rusalka and his Cello Concerto in B minor.


Dvorak, Antonin was born on September 8, 1841 in Mühmausen, Bavaria (now Milevsko, Czechoslovakia).


In 1847, Dvorak entered primary school and learned to play violin from his teacher Joseph Spitz. Frantisek. At the age of 13, through the influence of his father, who was pleased with his son's gifts, Dvorak was sent to Zlonice to live with his uncle Antonin Zdenek, working as an apprentice butcher, studying the German language, and eventually graduating to become a journeyman on November 1, 1856.

Dvorak took organ, piano and violin lessons from his German language teacher Anton Liehmann. Liehmann also taught the young boy music theory and was introduced to the composers of the time. Dvorak took further organ and music theory lessons with Franz Hanke at Ceska Kamenice. After leaving for Prague in September 1857, Dvorak entered the city's Organ School, studying organ with Josef Foerster, singing with Josef Zvonar and theory with Frantisek Blazek. Dvorak graduated from the Organ School in 1859.


He became the organist at St. Adalbert's Church, Prague, and began a period of prolific composition. Dvorak composed his String Quintet No. 2 in 1875, and in 1877, the critic Eduard Hanslick informed him that his music had attracted the attention of Johannes Brahms. Brahms contacted the musical publisher Simrock, who as a result, commissioned Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. Published in 1878, these were an immediate success. Dvorak 's Stabat Mater (1880) was performed abroad, and after a successful performance in London in 1883, Dvorak was invited to visit England, where he appeared to great acclaim in 1884. His Symphony No. 7 was commissioned in London and it premiered there in 1885. In 1891, Dvorak received an honorary degree from Cambridge University, and his Requiem Mass premiered later that year in Birmingham.

From 1892 to 1895, Dvorak was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Here Dvorak met with Harry Burleigh, one of the earliest African-American composers. Although Burleigh was never his pupil, he introduced traditional American spiritual music to Dvorak at the latter's request.

In the winter and spring of 1893 while in New York, Dvorak wrote his most popular work, the Symphony No. 9 known as From the New World. In the summer of 1893 he composed two of his most famous chamber works, the String Quartet No. 12 in F (the American) and the String Quintet in E flat.

Over the course of three months in 1895, Dvorak wrote his Cello Concerto in B minor, which was to become one of his most popular works. Yet, problems with Mrs. Thurber about his salary, together with increasing recognition in Europe (he had been made an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna) made him decide to return home.

During his final years, Dvorak's compositional work centered on opera and chamber music. In 1896, he visited London for the last time to hear the premiere of his Cello concerto. Dvorak was director of the Conservatory in Prague from 1901 until his death in 1904. He is interred in the Vysehrad cemetery in Prague. He left an unfinished work, the Cello Concerto in A Major (1865), which was completed and orchestrated by the German composer Gunter Raphael between 1925 and 1929 and by Jarmil Burghauser in 1952.


Dvorak was baptized as a Roman Catholic in the church of St. Andrew in the village. Dvorak 's years in Nelahozeves nurtured the strong Christian faith and love for his Bohemian heritage that so strongly influenced his music.