Antonín (Leopold) Dvorák
(Born; Nelahozeves, 8 Sept 1841; Died; Prague, 1 May 1904).
Czech composer. He studied with Antonín Liehmann and at the Prague Organ School (1857-9).
A capable viola player, he joined the band that became the nucleus of the new Provisional
Theatre orchestra, conducted from 1866 by Smetana. Private teaching and mainly composing
occupied him from 1873. He won the Austrian State Stipendium three times (1874, 1876-7),
gaining the attention of Brahms, who secured the publisher Simrock for some of his works
in 1878. Foreign performances multiplied, notably of the Slavonic Dances, the Sixth
Symphony and the Stabat mater, and with them further commissions. Particularly well
received in England, Dvorák wrote The Spectre's Bride (1884) and the Requiem Mass
(1890) for Birmingham, the Seventh Symphony for the Philharmonic Society (1885) and St
Ludmilla for Leeds (1886), besides receiving an honorary doctorate from Cambridge. He
visited Russia in 1890, continued to launch new works in Prague and London and began
teaching at the Prague Conservatory in 1891 (where Joseph Suk was among his most gifted
pupils). Before leaving for the USA he toured Bohemia playing the new Dumky Trio.
As director of the National Conservatory in New York (1892-5) he taught composition,
meanwhile producing the well-known Ninth Symphony ('From the New World'), the String
Quartet in F, the String Quintet in EFlat; and the Cello Concerto. Financial strain and
family ties took him back to Prague, where he began to write symphonic poems and finally
had his efforts at dramatic music rewarded with the success of the fairytale opera Rusalka
(1901). The recipient of honours and awards from all sides, he remained a modest man of
simple tastes, loyal to his Czech nationality.
Orchestral music Sym.no.1, c, 'Bells of
Zlonice' (1865); Sym.no.2, BFlat; (1865); Sym.no.3, EFlat; (1873); Sym.no.4, d (1874);
Sym.no.5, F (1875); Sym.no.6, D (1880); Sym.no.7, d (1885); Sym.no.8, G (1889); Sym.no.9,
e, 'From the New World'(1893); Pf Conc., g (1876); Vn Conc., a (1880), Vc Conc., b (1895);
Sym.Variations (1877); Scherzo capriccioso (1883); 8 ovs.; 2 serenades (str, E, 1879;
wind, d, 1878); 3 Slavonic Rhapsodies (1878); 2 sets of Slavonic Dances (orig.for pf duet,
1878, 1886); 5 sym.poems (1896-7)
Chamber music 3 str qnts(incl. op.97,
EFlat;, 1893); 14 str qts(incl. op.51, EFlat;, 1879; op.61, C, 1881; op.96, F, 1893;
op.105, AFlat;, 1896; op.106, G, 1895); StrSextet, op.48 (1878); 6 pf trios (incl. op.65,
F, 1883; op.90, e, 'Dumky', 1891); 2 pf qts(incl. op.87, EFlat;, 1889); 2 pf qnts(incl.
op.81, A, 1887); sonatas; other chamber works; many pf pieces (dances, eclogues,
character-pieces, duets); orgpreludes and fugues
Dramatic music Dimitrij (1882, 1894); The
Jacobin (1889, 1898); Kate and the Devil (1899); Rusalka (1901); Armida (1904); 6 other
operas; incidental music
Vocal music Stabat mater (1877); The
Spectre's Bride, cantata (1884); St Ludmilla, oratorio (1886); Requiem (1890); 2 masses,
cantatas and sacred choral works; partsongs, choral arrs.of Czech folksongs; over 100
songs and duets with pf acc; other arrs.
(c)Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK