Antonín Dvořák was the second Czech composer (after Bedřich Smetana) to achieve worldwide recognition.
Dvořák was musically talented from an early age, being a good violin student from the age of six. The first public performances of his compositions were in Prague in 1872, and in 1874 he entered and won the Austrian State Prize for Composition, impressing the renowned composer Johannes Brahms, who was the leading member of the jury.
Brahms assisted Dvořák by introducing him to his publisher Simrock, who commissioned the ever-popular Slavic Dances, Op. 46. The excellent sales of the sheet music to this piece launched his international reputation.
Dvořák frequently visited England, and his Seventh Symphony was written for London.
Dvořák was also a train spotter, spending hours at the Franz Josef railway station in Prague. It’s said he knew the timetable off by heart and when teaching, he would always ask his pupils to describe in detail any train journeys that they had recently made.
In 1892, Dvořák moved to the United States and became the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. While in the United States, Dvořák wrote his most successful orchestral work Symphony no.9: From the New World.
Many saw Dvořák as the heir to Brahms, infusing music possessed of clear formal outlines with melodies that are both memorable and spontaneous-sounding. He frequently employed aspects of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia, absorbing these influences to create a style combining national identity with symphonic traditions.
About this Contributor
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- Antonín Leopold
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- Collection 2 #16
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