Living in the 1800's in Czechoslovakia would have been a feat within itself. Times were difficult. Antonin Dvorák told his father that he wanted to be a musician. This did not find a sympathetic ear. None the less, he went to Prague to study and to teach. Entering his music into serious competition, his judge was Johannes Brahms whose support helped Dvorák gain international recognition.
Marrying his student, Anna Cermáková, Dvorák was a devoted family man. Sadly, three of his children died and when his two-year old daughter, Josefa, died, he was devastated. Dvorák went on to express his sadness through his Second Piano Trio in G Minor.
With heartache often comes a new determination. This gifted composer was about to make a new journey….this time to the new world. He had an opportunity to write his music through the generosity of an American patron of the arts, Mrs. Jeanette Thurber,and to become director of her conservatory of music in New York. His music may have never been known to the world without those who would give of their funds to make it happen. Without courage to cross the great ocean; to face the unknown, we may never have heard his works or this breath-taking symphony. (video below)
While in America, Dvorák was quickly inspired by the music of the “New World”, especially the songs of Native Americans and African-Americans. He combined these rhythms with folk tunes of his country. After completing his 9th Symphony, known as The New World Symphony, he spent time in the Czech community of Spillville, Iowa.
Dvorák’s inspiration in the New World eventually came to an end. His patron’s funds ran out and he and his family returned to Prague. Nevertheless, the world now enjoys the majesty of great music because of his courage to take a chance in a “New World”
These words, by Dvorák, says it best:
“The Music of the People is like a rare and lovely flower, growing amidst encroaching weeds. Thousands pass it…while others trample it under foot.
Thus the chances are that it will perish before it is seen….by the discriminating spirit who will prize it above all else.
The fact that no one has yet arisen to make the most of it…does not prove that nothing is there. ”
Enjoy this stirring performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Hebert Von Karajan. (CLICK and then click again on YouTube to watch).
and again, The 9th symphonyLargo (Instrumentalist at their best!)