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Antonin Dvorak, composer


 

(Compiled January 2004)

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) was born in a small village in Bohemia to a father who was both an innkeeper and a butcher. He studied music, learning to play the violin and organ, and began his career as a concert musician with the new Provisional Theatre Orchestra. He also found employment playing organ for a local church and teaching music to young women of means. What he really wanted to do was compose.

His big break came when Brahms happened upon some of his compositions and, impressed convinced his publisher in Berlin to bring Dvorak's music to a wider audience. With the publication of his Slavonic Dances, he became an overnight success.

He continued teaching and composing, holding positions at the Prague Conservatory and the National Conservatory in New York where he was named director and teacher of composition in 1892.

Throughout his career, Dvorak composed nine symphonies, 16 string quartet and several symphonic poems. Although he was not known for his sense of drama, he also composed several operas. His music was greatly inspired by the rhythms and sounds of his homeland and the Slavic lands around him. He applied his great talent for incorporating the folk music of different people into his music while in America, mining the rich diversity of the young country to inspire his music. One of his most celebrated symphonies, the ninth (From the New World) was composed and performed in New York in 1893.

He returned to his beloved homeland after only a couple of years in the United States, continued to compose, and died almost penniless in 1904.

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