Antonín Dvořák

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About Antonín Dvořák

Born the son of a butcher-innkeeper in the rural countryside north of Prague, Bohemia, in 1841, Dvořák defied his humble beginnings to become one of the leading nationalist composers of his day. He honed his composing skills while playing viola in the Prague National Theatre Orchestra, emerging in the mid-1870s with his first bona fide masterpieces, the Serenade for Strings Op. 22 and Symphony No. 5 Op. 76 (both 1875). However, it was his first set of eight Slavonic Dances Op. 46 (1878) that catapulted him from gifted provincial to international celebrity. Like Tchaikovsky, he fused folkish melodic enchantment and dance-like rhythmic vitality, most famously in his “New World” Symphony Op. 95 (1893), written during a three-year stay in the United States, which also inspired his “American” String Quartet Op. 96 (1893) and Cello Concerto Op. 104 (1894-95). Returning to the Czech homeland in 1895, Dvořák saw out his final years (he died in 1904 at age 62) with a series of late masterworks, including the opera Rusalka (1900), full of exquisite melodic subtlety and expressive intensity. For all his creative genius, Dvořák remained an essentially modest man at heart. “I am just a plain Czech musician,” he reflected toward the end of his life. “Disliking exaggerated humility and despite the fact that I have moved a little in the great musical world, I remain what I always was: a simple Czech musician.”

HOMETOWN
Nelahozeves, Bohemia
BORN
September 8, 1841

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