Antonin Dvorak is one of the most beloved composers, and he was born on this day in 1841 in Nelahozaeves, a village near Prague. His music is incredibly varied, perhaps resulting in his wide appeal. His Influences include the styles of Czech, Moravian, and other Slavic folk melodies. In 1892 Dvorak moved to New York City to become the Director of the National Conservatory of Music. While there, he published newspaper articles stating African-American and Native American music should be the base for Americans to find their own musical style. This music also became a big influence on Dvorak himself, and is best reflected in his 9th Symphony. The largo of his 9th, or “The New World Symphony” was so spiritual-like, it’s often mistaken for the real deal. This melody became a stand-alone song in the style of a spiritual, with lyrics provided by Dvorak’s student, William Arms Fisher.
Since much of Dvorak’s music is so inspired by folk dance, it’s hard to keep your feet still when you hear it, especially during his chamber music. This is the first movement of his Piano Trio No. 4, the “Dumky”. The word “dumky” refers to songs of lament originating from Ukraine. The lament doesn’t last long however; soon the music takes off like a Labrador retriever chasing a squirrel. Irrepressible energy.
Antonin Dvorak: born September 8, 1841 in Nelahozeves; died May 1, 1904 in Prague.